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Enemy In Disguise

E-mail can quickly become an invaluable ally--or your archenemy. Five steps help you ward off the barrage.

While it's generally considered a tool that shaves dollars off your overnight delivery bill, minimizes your long-distance phone charges and gives your fax machine a rest, e-mail also has a dark side. This irresistible, inexpensive and ingenious way to save time can easily become a vicious time-stealer. So grab your computer, point your mouse and follow these five steps to combat your e-mail enemies:

1. Just say no . . . to e-mail distribution lists, that is. When you receive an unwanted SPAM, send a brief note asking the sender to immediately remove your name from their distribution list. That also applies to friends who have added your address to their "bad joke distribution list."

2. When you receive an e-mail message, take action. If you have only a few minutes to check your messages, scan each one then save the ones you need to read closely and delete the rest. But be selective about what you save--avoid saving and printing every e-mail message you receive.

3. Use one e-mail address for business and one for your personal mail. You'll unclog your business mail by segregating these categories.

4. Purge saved e-mail messages regularly. Get in the habit of reviewing your saved messages every month (if you label them clearly, they'll be easier to identify) and delete the ones you no longer need.

5. Be concise when sending e-mails. If you can use fewer words to convey the same meaning, do so. Enough said.

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