Hi. My name is David Zak and I have a problem.
I have found myself stuck in a life where most of my work life is on my smartphone, desktop computer or a laptop dealing with emails. I am in a permanent exercise of trying to stay on top of emails. It is nuts. And it has to stop.
For some background, I am an entrepreneur and artist running an online business where we sell a product that we invented direct to the end consumer, to retailers and wholesalers internationally. I get a lot of emails! Everyone does! You do. This is nuts.
Why do we want less emails?
So we can live fulfilled lives. Self actualization. I want more time to help others. I want to paint more, make music more, make videos just for fun. Love my wife harder, be with my kids, work the garden properly, join a sports team, swim every day... unschool my kids! But I seem to spend so much of life emailing.
We are made to do so much more.
I did a lot of research, asked my business mentor during our biweekly phone call and talked with my 2 web developers about how I can spend less time emailing. This is the number 1 problem in my business life, and it effects our personal life.
Before I get into the details, I wanted to shout out 3 people who talked with me about my email problem.
Chris Wiersma is a longtime friend, mentor and now, bi-weekly mastermind partner. Chris married Rebecca and I barefoot on a dock.
Thank you Ugur, Jake and Chris for offering practical advise and suggestions on escaping my trap.
My mentors and the web developers both had the same answer: define the problem:
'What type of emails do you get?'
My examples may not relate directly to your inbox, but you will get the idea.
Before we begin, it is important to know that there is no single software or solution that will fix your email problem quickly. So give up that idea. Trust me. I searched and tested! To properly reduce your email volume, you will need to follow the process I outline below. It is simple: Identify emails that you get In a list and then apply one of the six solutions to each one.
I use gmail but this process can be used with any email platform as they use basic tools.
Collect Data (3-5 days)
For about a week, I kept a text document open on my desktop.
On the first day I went through my current unread emails, recent archived and sent emails, spam, promotions and social. In the text doc I started a list of types of emails.
Examples from my list:
- Customer order confirmations
- notifications from websites or apps about updates
- reports about broken links and new content on the web
- family related emails
- billing notifications
- rotary club info
- purchase orders that the factory received
- youtube comments on videos
- payments from our online store to the bank
- personal finance summaries
- customer reviews
- ..... and many more.
Every day I would take just 1 or 2 minutes and review all the latest emails I got and add anything new to the text document list.
The list turned out to have 27 line items after I was done. This list is short for me already. I am obsessed with automation. Customer service, shipping emails and many other aspects of my business have already been handed off to capable people and process documents have been created for training.
The next step is to print off this list. Keep a line or two between each line item for notes. Mine printed on 3 pages. Pick a good coffee shop, and go out to assign one of 6 possible solution to each item.
Give each item on your list a solution that makes sense for it.
Here are the 6 POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS that I came up with to choose from:
Use labels and auto filters
If you get lots of emails that you want to have in your email archive, but don't need to actually look at, then you can easily set up a filter to give the email a label, mark it as read and archive it automatically. When you use a label, you can use the search function in your email to pull up all emails with that label if you do need to access them.
It's really not complicated. Seriously.
This is from the Gmail website:
"Labels work like folders, but you can add more than one label to a message.
You can manage your incoming mail using Gmail’s filters to send email to a label, or archive, delete, star, or automatically forward your mail."
From my list, I got rid of a ton of inbox filler with labels and filters while not losing any emails. For example:
For Artresin (one business of mine) orders I set this up:
If the email included the subject words 'new artresin Canada order from' then the email gets labelled as 'Canadian shopify orders' marked as read and archived.
Here is a step by step example:
STEP 1: Create a new filter in your settings and identify words that will be in the subject line of every email that you want to put automation rules onto
STEP 2: Make a new label that will get applied to these emails automatically when they come it.
STEP 3: Check of all other automation rules that you would like to apply to these types of email.
Notifications of automatic website or application updates.
If the email included the subject words 'automatically updated' then the email gets labelled as 'Updated' marked as read and archived.
get it? For all those emails you should keep just in case, but don't actually have to look at, try this!
Emails that you 'Need'
Mark and list items that you wouldn't want to miss as 'NEED'.
Break down emails from people that you do need to hear from into further categories.
On my NEED list, I get emails from my executive team, immediate family and employees, to mention a few.
Start a new text doc. Go through each line item that you marked as NEED and write them in a text document. Now, one by one, search each persons email and quickly scan the last 20+ emails. You can categorize them further into types of email from each person.
This exercise will identify types of emails within your NEED category that you do not necessarily need to get.
This next part may be awkward, but it doesn't have to be. Reply back to the latest emails from your new list that you have identified as unnecessary. Email back something like this:
"Hey, I am getting flooded with emails. Moving forward, I don't need to be CCd on this type of email :)"
Adjust settings of automated reports
I get weekly summaries of new content that has certain keywords. I also get real time notifications if a URL on a website returns with an error message for someone. I also get summaries of our customer service response performance and many more.
After identifying all of these reports it was clear that I would be fine with a monthly summary of many reports.
I went into the settings one by one and changed them to monthly reports, tweaked the settings so that the data was useful, redirected the reports to someone else's email who would enjoy the data, or cancelled the reports all together.
Why didn't I do this years ago?
Delegate replies and create a system for saving common replies
I have 2 ways to deal with questions from customers that reach me:
The first option is to create customer service macros that my team can access for tough questions from customers or partners and show the team the new macro.
A macro is a saved templates answer that can be applied to repeat and common questions with one click. We use ZenDesk for customer service, and the macro tools is fantastic!
So, when a customer issues gets raised to my email, I answer it well, and then COPY and paste my email into our customer service software as a new macro. We also add this text to our online FAQ so that people can find info without having to email or call us.
The second option is to copy and paste a generic email message that will direct the customer to someone else that can help them just as well!
'I am no longer using this email address, please email support@ artresin.com to speak directly with an artist!'
That is just an example. But you get the idea.
Label, archive and auto forward to someone else.
I like to keep our product reviews and youtube video comments, sometimes they are nice to see!
But I just no longer have time to reply to every social media comment or enjoy every glowing review!
For example, if a youtube comment comes in, it can get labelled, marker as read, forwarded to a helper on my team and archived in my email automatically.
Any email that has 'new youtube comment' in the subject line gets this filter applied automatically and I don't lose the message.
Another example is anything that says 'billing notification' goes to our CFO and book keeper. Each of these emails get labelled and archived in my own email should I even need to access them.
Continue to unsubscribe from things! EVERYTHING!
I only want a very small selection of newsletters. I unsubscribe like a maniac, but time to turn the unsubscribe action into high gear.
So those were the 6 options I had at my disposal for identifying a possible solution for each of the email types on my list.
The final step is about self control and priorities.
You need to train the people around you how to treat you.
I try to turn off my phone when I get home with my daughter if I know my wife doesn't need to reach me if she is out. I also turn my phone off on Friday night and try to keep it off.
This is hard to do. But wow, you can do a lot of cool things without the ability to refresh your email. I also refuse to get a laptop.
I could elaborate here, but this article was about reducing email volume, not lifestyle priorities.
If you have any other idea or suggestions for how to have less email, please call me at 905 999 9941. I really don't want your email! Please.
And I might not answer my phone.
Hope this helps someone else who is feeling like I am. It IS possible to transition into a life of less email!
Since writing this blog and working through all my emails, I am definitely noticing a change in my inbox. I am almost nervous that I am missing something because I don't have as many things to click on! But, everything seems to be under control.
Here are a few additional thoughts and updates
1) This whole process took me about 3 months. Rebecca and I identified that we were spending all our time emailing and not doing what we were best at for our business. And we were not happy. So be patience and know that it takes time to change things.
2) Inbox PAUSE plugin works with Gmail and instals on Google Chrome. It 'holds' incoming emails until the times that you designate it to let them all go into your inbox. This keeps you from constantly hitting refresh. It was okay but it doesn't work on mobile so I cheated and eventually got rid of it.
3) Book: Unsubscribe by Jocelyn K. Glei
This book was useful. It mostly helps with email behaviour. Things like being really clear and concise in your emails. Ways to email to get the job done with as little dialog as possible while still being very human and likeable! Worth a read if you are serious about getting out of your inbox for a while.
4) Analog solution for a written to do list.
This pause button folded paper goes on most evenings and on the weekend. I have a nervous twitch that makes me reach for my to-do list the moment I feel an uncomfortable moment of inaction.
This pause button reminds me that it is okay to stop for a while. :)
We are a sick, sick people!
This solution will only work for a while and then change will be needed. Solutions always need to be recreated as we adapt and bypass our own safe-guards. Never stop changing!
5) Growing up, I loved seeking advise from older people. I still do. Experience teaching so much and can save you years of learning. I am amazed at how many older people say something like this:
"I wish I didnt worry so much when I was younger."
The best parts of life, the ones where we truly feel alive, are the ones when we are doing things not because we have to, but just because we can. Doing for no reason is when we all truly feel alive!
We have made our firm decision.
- A WAY safer epoxy resin.
- A hardener that is clearer then the resin- like water!
- A hardener that doesn't yellow in the bottle for a very long time.
- A cured clear epoxy resin that doesn't yellow in the knowable future under normal circumstances! - tests are ongoing.
I'll be honest, I am a bit of a hippie.
My wife and I have a huge vegetable garden and we love the soil. I am usually barefoot, and think I can communicate telepathically with my cats, Nature is amazing and the idea that we are making and selling a product that can be damaging the planet is something that deeply disturbs our souls!
In this blog I'll share:
1) My honest, informed explanation about the epoxy resin industry and Eco friendly marketing (and also some 'greenwashing' that goes on in the industry.
2) The efforts we go to to minimize our footprint and also our best advice for proper and responsible disposal.
ArtResin is made from Petroleum.
Period end of story.
"The word petroleum comes from the Latin petra, meaning “rock,” andoleum, meaning “oil.”
Let's not fool ourselves. There are all sorts of problems with petroleum extraction. Petroleum spills and seeps into our oceans and water supplies while contaminating our soils and polluting our air. It is at the root of many wars and keeps developed countries depending on foreign supplies. It is essential to the production of Epoxy Resin.
Unfortunately the chemical industry is rampant with 'greenwashing' (using environmental claims as a marketing tool when they are having a net-negative impact on the planets well-being).
What can we do as a company to act responsibly?
ArtResin epoxy resin is fully reactive. Meaning, that there is no non-reactive material in our product.
Why is this important? Well, if we were to go cheap, and buy materials that have fillers or diluents to stretch our materials further and make more money, there would be 'non-reactive' material in our product that evaporates into the air.
Why is non reactive material a bad thing?
Well, because when you mix the two parts together, all the non reactive stuff is either released as VOCs during the chemical reaction, or they would leech out over time. If you put cheap epoxy resin in water, chemicals would leech out into the water. This is not only bad for your health, but also for the air.
Once cured, ArtResin is food safe and nothing leeches out into our environment. When mixed, no non reactive material is expelled into the air!
- Yes once ArtResin is cured it becomes safe as per FDA 21CFR177.2280 (safe for incidental food contact). You can check out the ArtResin® SDS for further details. Here is the exact FDA link:
So that's a good thing that we pay extra for in our manufacturing process.
Here are a few other things we do to act responsibly in our business:
We clean and recycle our totes and drums. Which is not huge cost savings and extra work.
We buy our raw materials locally as much as possible. It is sourced in Texas, where it is mixed packaged and distributed from. This cuts down in shipping from Taiwan where most companies get their raw materials from in this industry. We like to support local businesses and have built a great community of hard working local suppliers. Our packaging and shipping boxes are made just down the road. Same with our labels and printing materials.
To be clear, epoxy resin companies that say they are environmentally friendly or use post industrial or consumer waste in their resin, really should be examined. I urge you to call them and ask them if they are actually environmentally friendly. If you get an honest person on the phone, you will get the truth. The percentage of down cycled material used is very small and it is probably worse than just sourcing a local fresh supply for many reasons, including clarity and actual impact on the planet.
As a business, we have avoided saying that we are environmentally friendly, because it has never felt right.
ArtResin is made up of amazing people who love the planet and other people (especially artists!). We are honest and this is a hard conversation to have for us because we wish we had a better answer.
The reality is that epoxy resin is made from petroleum, but we got to extra efforts at higher costs to live responsibly and set an example for our kids and customers.
This stuff matters
So, as a consumer and lover of ArtResin (You!), what is the most responsible way to use this product in terms of minimizing your environmental impact?
1) Do not pour the hardener side of unmixed ArtResin into the water supply. Fish don't like it.
2) If you have extra material at the bottom of each bottle, open each bottle and put one bottle upside down on top of the other one. Have the two openings touching so that you can drain all of the one side into the other side. Wrap tape around the two at this meeting point and let it sit. This will react all the extra material in the bottom of one bottle and you can then recycle the bottles! No liquid material can leak out if it is all fully reacted.
3) if you have extra of only one side of the ArtResin, for example, some extra hardener in a bottle but no matching resin, then the best thing to do is take it to your local dump! Dumps have a spot where you can drop of half empty cans of house paint and other chemicals. Give this to them.
Now, what they do with it sounds terribly, but on further research, its not as bad as it sounds. These paint and chemical depots will often incinerate any chemicals that cant be reused in some other product or manufacturing process ( some companies take paint and re mix it for resale ). The incinerating of chemicals is quite sophisticated and there are many filters that capture impurities so that they are not released into the air. I am going to take a trip with my local dump to learn more about this process and I will report back!
They are very open to sharing their efforts to be environmentally friendly, so call your local dump if you want to learn more!
ArtResin is not marketed as good for the planet because of the obvious negative effects of petroleum extraction and refining. It would be irresponsible and dare I say 'evil' of us to nit-pick the truth and market this way.
We do our best, and will keep asking 'how can we do better?' Because we actually really do care.
If you have any concerns about anything I said here, or suggestions on ways we can do better, please contact email@example.com
Go make art!
We are so proud to bring you ... The 12 ArtResin Days of Christmas!
Day 1 - Pallet Christmas Tree
Our first video features rustic Christmas trees that ArtResin's Dave upcycled out of old pallets we had lying around the ArtResin studio. Painted, distressed, coated in thick, velvety ArtResin and adorned with twinkle lights, they look absolutely magical!
Day 2 - Holiday Stencil Paintings
Today's video features ArtResin's Rebecca creating a set of holiday paintings by stencilling letters onto wooden panels with paper doily stencils. Using a spray adhesive ( available at any art supply store ) to adhere the doily to the surface allows for easy stencil removal right after painting.
Create your own custom stencil paintings to lend a fun & festive look to your holiday decor!
Day 3 - Snowflake Door Decor
Today we are making a resin snowflake door decor piece!
These snowflakes will last forever! Memory saved successfully :)
Joanne is even sweet enough to teach us how to make a snowflake (incase you forgot how!)
You can hang them on the wall or in a window! Waterproof and weather proof so you can hang them outside :)
Day 4 - Stocking Holder Wall Piece
Do you have a fireplace Mantle? Me neither!
We screwed this old piece of barn-board (actually part of an old Ikea futon that was left outside) to the wall with hooks in it over our modern fireplace! But first, we painted it with initials of our family, and then coated it in ArtResin obviously! Careful not to light your stockings on fire. :)
Day 5 - Peppermint Candy Bowls
These bowls are super easy to make and with the top coat of ArtResin, should last for years and years! They are food safe and can even go in the dishwasher :) How cool is that.
Day 6 - Candy Serving Tray
Todays ArtResin craft is a Christmas Candy Serving Tray!
Patty saw this candy and thought: 'Those colors look like a cool winter night!'. And don't worry, ArtResin is food safe so you can put food on it and eat it and not die because the plastic leeched! So, this holiday season, poor a glass of Beaver wine, cut some cheese and marvel in your creative resin brilliance! :)
Day 7 - Melted Crayon Ornaments
John and Adriana took the whole melted crayon trend to the wonderful world of christmas. With a glue gun, some chunks of crayon, a heat gun and some clear artresin, these ornaments will last forever. The best this about homemade decorations is the memory that is baked into them. Start a new tradition with your own melted crayons Christmas tree ornament collection :)
Day 8 - Tasty Gingerbread House
What a good idea Tracey :) This will last forever now! No one actually like eating it anyways :P ArtResin is a great way to preserve special memories and lock them in time. A new tradition will be to bring this gingerbread house out every year at Christmas. ArtResin keep oxygen away from the food so that is will not decompose or break down. It is waterproof, food safe and turned this craft into a ‘product’!
Day 9 - Reusable Christmas Gift Tags
In today's video, Tracey shows us how to make the coolest gift tags out of upcycled Christmas cards coated in a thin layer of crystal clear ArtResin! What I love most is that these tags are reusable and use old recycled Christmas cards ... or be creative and create your own - either way, you'll be reducing waste at the same time!
Also love that a dry erase marker lets you make an easy change in case someone ends up on your naughty list at the last minute ;)
Day 10 - Glass Mosaic Trivet
Looks like Dave has finally succumbed to the holiday spirit ... or was it the holiday spirits? :)
Today, ArtResin's Rebecca shows us how to create the most beautiful Christmas trivet out of glass mosaic pieces and a mirror tile.
Use our holly design for inspiration or create your own for a beautiful family keepsake and a custom touch to your holiday home decor!
ArtResin is not only the most super crystal clear, super glossy, super hard finish to coat your art with, but did you know ... it's also the strongest glue in the world and makes the perfect adhesive for mosaic work!
Because ArtResin is non toxic when used as directed and certified safe for home use, this is a great project for the whole family!
Day 11 - Birch Tree Candle Holder
We're almost there!!
And a good thing too by the looks of it, cause Dave has finally blown his top!
In today's video, Joanne shows us how to make the most beautiful tealight holders out of firewood logs from the garden center.
And why resin them, you ask?
Well, not only does it give the wood a dark, rich holiday lustre, but it also makes these tealight holders weatherproof and perfect for outdoor use!
Using LED tealights will add a gorgeous warmth to your outdoor holiday decor,
and you can use them year after year without any fear of the wood rotting.
In fact, resin is such a good waterproofing agent that it's used commercially to protect the underside of boats from water damage.
How cool is that?
Day 12 - Barnboard Christmas Countdown!
Awwww ... turns out Dave loves Christmas after all
In the last video of our 12 ArtResin Days of Christmas series, Joanne shows us how to make a vintage inspired sign out of old wood, paint and transfer paper.
The BEST part is that by applying a coat of shiny, clear ArtResin, the sign becomes a whiteboard you can use with a dry erase marker to count down the days until Christmas or any other special event ... a birthday, birth of a baby, wedding date etc.
See? ArtResin makes everything better
We've had SO much fun creating this 12 part video series featuring fun & easy holiday craft ideas using non-toxic, non-yellowing, non-toxic ArtResin - and we hope you have just as much fun watching them!
Our hope is for these videos to inspire and spark creativity for you and yours this holiday season ... or at the very least, to make you smile :)
Did you create something based on one of our 12 ArtResin Days of Christmas videos? Please share with us at firstname.lastname@example.org ... we LOVE to see our customers' work!!
Stay tuned to our YouTube channel to catch more fun & inspiring videos from the ArtResin crew: bit.ly/arytsub
So what the heck exactly is the 12 ArtResin Days Of Christmas?
Check out today's Video Friday and Dave will fill you in on what busy little bees we've been over here at ArtResin World HQ getting ready for the holidays!
For all the latest and greatest, be sure to check out our YouTube channel at bit.ly/arytsub
Happy weekend, everyone!
It's been a great week over here at ArtResin World HQ. We've been working on some really fun videos and projects that we'll start rolling out next week - so stay tuned to our social media ( links are posted below ).
So speaking of social media, by far the MOST popular post on ArtResin's Pinterest page has been the Penny Floor.
This pin gets SO much traffic and has been liked, shared and repinned so many times, we've lost count.
And no wonder ... what a cool and beautiful project!!
An epoxy resin treatment not only seals the pennies in formation and makes the floor durable & scuff proof, but ArtResin's crystal clear and non-yellowing formulation will make the copper absolutely GLOW.
So earlier this week as we were flipping TV channels, imagine our surprise to see Scott McGillivray, one of our favorite designers, doing a penny floor segment on the Marilyn Denis Show, one of our favorite lifestyle shows!
And so, just imagine our DELIGHT when we spotted two familiar looking bottles on set, taking pride of place in between Scott and Marilyn ....
ArtResin made its TV debut on Marilyn Denis!
Clearly, Scott McGillivray appreciates ArtResin's non-toxic, certified safe for home use, non-yellowing, crystal clear, super durable, super high gloss, easy to use epoxy resin as much as our amazing customers do! ♥
For all the latest and greatest ArtResin news and adventures,
please join us on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube!
We'd love to hear from you!!
Today, ArtResin's Rebecca shares a beautiful project - a nautical themed canvas she painted for her new nephew Mason.
Sharing lots of great tips along the way, Rebecca finishes it off with a rope trim and a perfect pour of crystal clear ArtResin epoxy resin … taking her painting from sweet to stunning!
Check out the video to see the finished painting as it's unveiled at the baby shower!
For more inspiration to help you create your own amazing gifts with super clear, non toxic, non yellowing ArtResin, check out our YouTube channel at bit.ly/arytsub
Toronto artist Matthew Del Degan is on a mission to highlight the love, kindness and compassion that exists in the city. And he's spreading the word through the LoveBot - his 250lb, 2 foot high little robot mascot that he is dotting throughout Toronto to recognize good Samaritans and their heartwarming acts of kindness, which he feels too often go overlooked.
When ArtResin's Patty first laid eyes on Matt's artwork, she was totally enamored by his fun, colorful & bright imagery. But when she found about the significance of the robot and Matt's simple message that kindness trumps all, she fell in love and knew she had to own one of his pieces.
And how incredibly lucky are we that Matt dropped by ArtResin HQ to ArtResin the canvas Patty bought?!?! Check out the video to see Matt and Patty coating her piece in non-toxic, crystal clear, non-yellowing ArtResin - Matt's favorite and the only epoxy resin he will use on his art!
ArtResin + LoveBot spreading the love = a perfect match!!
Check out Matt's site at http://lovebot.com
And don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel at bit.ly/arytsub for more amazing ArtResin Featured Artists!!
Happy Halloween, kids!
In the spirit of Halloween, Dave transformed an ordinary styrofoam skull into a super cool objet d'art using gold leaf and super versatile ArtResin!
Gold Leafing has its origins in ancient Egypt, when statues intended for pharaoh's tombs were decorated with gold, the color of the gods. Later popular gilding applications included picture frames, manuscripts, jewellery, sculpture and paintings.
Traditionally, gold leaf was made by hammering pure 22 karat yellow gold into thin sheets - these days, you can easily find copper and zinc composite Metal Leaf at any art store, offering the same rich look of gold leaf, but at a fraction of the price.
Pair it with crystal clear, non-yellowing, non-toxic ArtResin, and you've got an effect that looks like a million bucks!!
Stay tuned to ArtResin's YouTube channel for more fun and inspiring arts & crafts projects using ArtResin, the best epoxy resin on the planet.
So … you’ve done a beautiful pour on your artwork with ArtResin, the clearest, safest, non-yellowing epoxy resin on the planet.
What’s the best way to finish the edges?
This is one of our most commonly asked questions!
We offer a few suggestions here, but in today’s video, Dave has yet another solution for beautiful, clean, professional looking edges to really show off your super high-gloss, crystal clear masterpiece.
Oh, yeah …. and just one other little thing in today’s video …
DAVE PULLS THE STRING!!!!!
What the what?
What is UP with that string anyway?
Or should I say UNDER?
As in …..Down Under???
Hmmmmm …. WATCH TO FIND OUT!!!
And stay tuned to our YouTube channel for the all latest and greatest from ArtResin!
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