How I’m Taking Back Control Over My Life & My Business

Lately I feel like I'm working more than ever, but at the end of the day instead of feeling satisfied I'm disappointed by the long list of things that I didn't have time to get to.

Don't get me wrong, I still LOVE what I do! But as my new businesses grow, so do the levels of stress in my daily life. Now I could easily just accept this as a sacrifice of success, but the whole reason I love being an entrepreneur is because I get to live my life on my own terms.

So I'm going to do something drastic....

You see I have this routine, each morning right when I wake up, I reach for my phone and immediately start checking my email.

Does this sound familiar to anyone else out there?

It's just a habit that I've developed over the years based upon curiosity and necessity at the earlier stages of my businesses.

Here's the Problem:

I start my day out by looking at what everyone else's agenda is for me, instead of focusing on what I'm looking forward to working on, or using my clear head to strategize.

Instead of deciding how my day should be spent, I allow others to dictate what they need from me. And it's taking a toll on my productivity, the quality & enjoyment of my work, and also on my relationships.

I notice that when I try and work on projects, I'm constantly distracted by my email inbox pinging. That little red notification at the bottom of my screen makes me feel frazzled and I find it very difficult to concentrate.

So enough whining, do you want to know what I'm going to do about it?

Here's What I'm Going to Do About It:

I've made the decision to challenge myself to NOT CHECK MY EMAIL UNTIL 3PM EST every weekday for 30 days.

Now for some of you, this may not seem too drastic, but for me this is HUGE!

It will be extremely hard for me to wake up each day and restructure the way that I work. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and I'm determined to find a solution for the amount of stress and overwhelm that so many of us face as entrepreneurs.

At this time, I'd like to invite you to join me on this challenge.

I know something like this isn't possible for everyone, but may be an exciting opportunity for those of you who are looking for a more effective way of managing your time, energy and overwhelm.

Either way, I need your help to keep me accountable!

I promise to post a entry each week here and report back about how it's going. I'll share if it's helping, or any horror stories (hopefully there won't be any)!

Comment below if you'd like to join me on this 30 day challenge, and/or let me know if you'll help keep me accountable!

I'll be personally reviewing all responses. :)

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  1. Jody Murphy says:

    Tim Ferriss promoted this radical behavior back in 2007. I loved the freedom it gave me. I’ve definitely slipped since then, so your 30-day challenge is perfect timing. Thanks for the nudge, Melanie.

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    • Melanie Duncan says:

      Awesome! Thanks for sharing that Jody. I love Tim Ferriss!

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  2. Jackie Jacobson says:

    I’m with you on this one Melanie, Between email, Facebook and Pinterest I’m spending major time of my very creative hours. Moving it to 3 PM, can make a big difference in my productivity. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Melanie Duncan says:

      Wonderful! I’m glad that you’ll be joining me Jackie!

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  3. Hilary Haptree says:

    I have pondered about this very same thing – in fact, I just got an email from you and now I’m here instead of writing up a presentation!

    I think I’m going to try a slightly less daunting version of your plan and wait until 11am to check instead of 3pm – It’s normally an as and when they arrive thing with me.

    I feel these few hours without checking may be enough for me to get on top of my work load for the day and give me time to prioritise what I look at in the afternoon after I have checked my mail.

    Thanks for the inspiration :) – back to my presentation now!


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    • Melanie Duncan says:

      I know, I did find it a little ironic that I was emailing you about this challenge. Haha. I’m glad you’ll be joining me!

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  4. Deby says:

    I too am more productive when I don’t check emails and fb. Having a regular job and my business as well makes it very hard, but it will do both my interest well. I already do the email thing for business. I just have to control FB now and I will be great.

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  5. Donna says:

    Wow, this will be tough, but I’m ready to go, starting tomorrow?

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    • Melanie Duncan says:

      I started today, but you can absolutely start tomorrow!

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  6. Cori says:

    Being a moonlight entrepreneur, I often don’t get to check my email until the evening anyway – but I am way more productive when I stay away from the computer all together!

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  7. Kiki Petty says:

    I’m SO on that same page with you! It’s an addiction – grabbing the phone and checking mail first thing…it determines my imediate first emotions of the day and i hate that! More often than not i read emails and feel anxious and unsettled, not excited and ready to be productive. I do not think I cam wait until 3…but I am excited to try for 10am!!! Which is a good 3-4 hours after my normal read time:) Love this idea – thanks!!

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    • Melanie Duncan says:

      I can totally relate. I wake up in a good mood and then I see some email that gets me all worked up. I’m so glad that you’re joining me!

      Reply to this Comment
  8. Thoranna says:

    I am so with you!

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  9. ajspastime says:

    I will help you be accountable. since i work at a different job than my art i have to check and make sure no one bought anything so i can be prompt about shipping. I will however challenge myself to stay off of face book till the end of the day so that I can take care of other things instead of reading about what everyone else is doing. Have a blessed day. AJ’s Pastime

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    • Melanie Duncan says:

      Thank you!

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  10. Erin says:

    I’m going to try for a sneak peek in the a.m. – bright and early {because I don’t want my customer service to suffer}, but set a time limit for email, tweets, fb and my website. Then off to work. I’m SURE I would get more done and feel less stress throughout the day. :)

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    • Melanie Duncan says:

      I love it! Great plan!

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  11. Pamela Famisaran says:

    I agree with you and the ladies who commented below. The internet is a wonderful tool we use in many forms everyday to make our lives more productive, and yet it also drains us of our time and energy and leads us astray of our focus in life. I will take the challenge and use that time to be truly focused and inspired. We can do it!!

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    • Melanie Duncan says:

      Thanks Pamela!

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  12. liz says:

    This is the reason I don’t use a smart phone (even though I have one) as I don’t want to be accessible by email / Facebook 24/7. It is also the reason that I have a separate mobile phone number for my work. I want to keep my personal life separate from my work life. It is very interesting, but I think that this email predicament is dawning on more and more people – Brendon Burchard speaks about your email inbox being everybody else’s dumping ground! He speaks about the fact that if you start the day with your email, you live your life by other people’s agenda!

    Good luck with your challenge.

    All the best,


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  13. Andrea Beltrami says:

    I LOOOOOOOVE this idea and have been trying to implement something along the same lines, as I’ve run into the same pitfalls. I check my email before my brain is even in full swing and too often I find I lose hours by getting sucked down the rabbit hole that can be email. These days most emails contain at least a handful of links, so following even a few can cause so much wasted productivity. I look forward to seeing how long I can really do this, and how much more productivity I can regain by doing so. Good luck!! ;)

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  14. Colleen says:

    Sounds like a good idea, I admit it’s the first thing I do when I get up, (after making a cup of tea!!), but my business is in an early stage, and I have not started making any money out of it yet. I also only have off peak rates for internet until midday, so it’s not feasible to wail until after them. I still support you in your challenge though
    Good luck
    Cheers Colleen

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  15. Mary Gilmartin says:

    I cannot look at my Emails until I have done something for myself ,ie. water areobics, working out at the Gym or just walking the track at the Sports complex. After that is done I go for a power shake at herbal life club and then return home to check on the Emails. I must say that most nights I check emails before I go to bed so that I do not feel guilty about looking at them until after 10: A.M.My business( Destination Weddings in Puerto Rico is very competitive and the first to answer the requests is usually the one who gets the wedding. That being said I am not worried that I have lost too many weddings to my competitors because I took time for myself.

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  16. NPC says:

    Love this! I will try to implement it in my life as well. Thank you!

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  17. Terrie says:

    It’s funny that you mention checking emails. My life was out of control and I did exactly what you are doing last week.

    What a burden was lifted off my shoulders. I love having more control of my day! That control enables me to be more creative and have a lot more fun at what I do!

    I’m with you and thank you for all you do! It’s made a difference in my life.

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  18. Emma says:

    Since I am just getting started, I need to check my email, but I would make the pledge to not checking facebook, twitter, etc. That truly interrupts my day and gets me off track, etc. I will make the pledge to keep away from social media until 3pm, which is my biggest distraction!

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  19. Megan says:


    Have you checked this out:

    It is about getting your agenda done before everyone else’s agenda for you takes over. I’m going to attempt it (as long as my little ones sleep in a bit!)


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  20. Ainsley Shepherd says:

    This is a great piece of advice! I was doing this while I was focussing on writing the ebook for our website. It was an excellent strategy which allowed me to get ‘Journey of a Beautiful You’ completed quickly and give my full heart and attention to the project. But I haven’t always maintained the habit since then. So thanks for the challenge, this will help me to keep accountable to fully establish this habit into my lifestyle, and increase my productivity as a result. How are you going with it?

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  21. [...] One week down and 3 to go! If you haven't already, you can read about my 30 day challenge HERE. [...]

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  22. Vari says:

    I love this, Melanie! I’ve been finding myself in exactly the same situation lately.

    I’ve turned the ‘ping’ off on my email to help me stay focused and avoid distraction.

    With 2 little ones and a business that is growing so quickly, I find that I get stressed if I check my email 1st thing. The boys need my attention at that time and I get frazzled when I get an email and feel like I NEED to take action on it immediately.

    I’ve changed my thinking to realise that emails are people wanting MY TIME. They are asking me TO DO something.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Vari x

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  23. Alan Brooks says:

    What an almost impossible challenge! Not sure if it works for me. I try to limit my online work to mornings only and leave the afternoon open for massages, walking the dog, going to the pool with the grandkids or taking in a movie

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  24. Eva says:

    One thing I have done is unsubscribe to emails that don’t help me produce. I still check my email first thing in the morning :(
    All 10 of them.

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  25. Amy says:

    Just joined your email list and I love this challenge! I am taking the next week off from my day job and will be home all day working on my biz so this is exactly what I need to implement NOW to minimize disruptions this coming week and for the future……At work, I can’t check my email all the time, so that helps…but I know on weekends I tend to check it ALOT …..going to start with a check at noon and 6PM! I know I have set limits for times I am on facebook and twitter as that is a big time suck as well..

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  26. Christine St.Vil says:

    This is an excellent challenge and something that I need to commit to/change myself! Thanks for the reminder. I may also adjust the time a little bit and actually do one check at noon and one at 5pm (like I did when I was still working in Corporate). But the first thing in the morning thing (and all day off and on) has got to stop! LOL

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