SAN FRANCISCO — You don’t have to live in fear of your e-mail inbox or be a slave to it, says Merlin Mann, a writer and Web personality who spoke Thursday at the Real Estate Connect conference.

Mann discussed his philosophy and strategies for quickly sorting through the many messages that can divide your time and attention if you’re not careful — he promotes this plan to get to "Inbox Zero" at his 43folders.com Web site.

His presentation began with the disclosure of the sprawling e-mail address he obtained in 1993: merlin@freenet.scri.fsu.edu.

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