Xin Fu – The Martial Art of emailing: Clean your pond.

Xin-fu-Wiertz-sebastienLast year, I have reached a state of email bankruptcy which could be the origin of a certain anxiety for some. The number of emails and information I received was growing and will still grow this year, it was high time for me to reconsider the way I was handling them in order to get my head out of the inbox.

Today, the number of emails I received (everyday) has not decreased and I have finally realized that there are no such word as email overload or information overload, it’s just the way you control or not  those flows which might generate an overflow.

Having learnt martial art since my childhood, I have decided to apply the same philosophy to my emails. I was maybe already doing it but it was more in a Kung fu way that in a Tai Chi style. Every art has a name and thanks to my friend Xiaoli I will call this method “Xin Fu” ( 信 夫 : ”the skill of letters”). Xin fu is not the ultimate truth since I am still elaborating it but I propose to share this art of emailing.

If one imagines that an inbox is a pond and that all the emails represent thoughts, a free inbox would reflect a tranquility of no thought. A serene state of mind would deliver an inexhaustible power created by this tranquil pond (empty inbox) because it is free and open to everything (Yin)

Your quest for a serene state of mind (Zero thought- Zero email) will start by cleaning your pond of any existing remaining thoughts (emails)

Here are some steps to start cleaning your pond:

Stop bad sources that make your pond flowing off.

In Martial arts, repeating the same movements every day makes you progress. but when this gesture does not improve your skill or is done in the wrong state of mind, you should stop doing it. The same applies to emails that are systematically deleted every day.  Why are you spoiling your energy ?

  • Create a temp folder named “to filter from my pond”
  • Over a week, instead of deleting all the newsletters or reports you do not need every morning, you will place them into this folder (we will see on my next post how to deal with them )

Clean your Pond

A pond can be polluted in many ways, but the worst pollution is algae which decrease oxygen in water and multiply rapidly when they have dirt to eat. We will learn how to prevent algae from growing in your pond but first we need to clean the waste that feed them.

Do not try to organize your emails  or making rules at this time, just clean your pond. This process is slow but like Confucius said “it does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop”

In my next post, we will see how to start controlling the flows and start the basic movement of Xìn Fu.

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    This is a personal weblog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer.