If Barbara Corcoran Can Turn Off Her Phone At 6:30, So Can You—Here's How

A real estate icon who sold her business for millions, then became an author, speaker, and "Shark Tank" investor, shares her secret for achieving work-life balance (hint: there is none).

The first sentence on Barbara Corcoran's website bio is a bit lackluster, referencing straight D's in school and 20-plus jobs before she turned 23. However, in the decades since, the real estate icon has made up for any poor performance earlier in life. In 2001 she sold her real estate business for $66 million. Today, she is the well-known female face on ABC's hit show, Shark Tank, an author, speaker, and investor.

During this episode of Work Flow, Corcoran shares how she divides and conquers her days in order to manage her many media appearances and her numerous businesses. Many of the people I've spoken with in this Fast Company video series talk about how they achieve work-life balance. Corcoran, on the other hand, professes that such a thing is not possible: "I gave up years ago on the concept that you could actually have balance in your life, I think it's a phantom chase," she says.

What she does instead is compartmentalize. In our Skype chat she describes how her phone goes on every morning at 6:30, ready for business, but she promptly shuts off the work line every night at 6:30 when she walks upstairs to her home to start her day as mom.

"I gave up years ago on the concept that you could actually have balance in your life, I think it's a phantom chase."

Corcoran also uses simple lists to prioritize what she has to do on a daily basis, giving each item a grade in terms of what needs to be done first. To get each job done, she talks about the small team she has put in place to keep up with the ongoing demand. "I'm in a reactionary business, I'm never in control of my time during the workday." Corcoran also shares her number one power tool "which no one should have to live without"—and it's not an app.

[Image: Flickr user Jon Rawlinson]

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  • David Kaiser

    Assuming you are not an on-call ER doctor or IT technician, whose job is to be available in the off hours, you need to have some downtime, otherwise you never fully recover and your performance, stress and creativity just spiral into disaster. 

    Seriously, the reactive, multitasking, email at 11 pm thing Just. Doesn't. Work! And it makes you miserable. Declare some boundaries and watch your happiness and your productivity soar. 

    David Kaiser, PhDExecutive Coachwww.DarkMatterConsulting...."Time to be Extraordinary"

  • Bette Boomer

    Balance in life a phantom chase? Probably.We've talked before about taking a vacation from technology and how hard it is to do in this digital age.(http://www.betteboomer.com/201... Some experts suggest curtailing the amount of time you spend with your devices.Set limits for how often you check e-mail or force yourself to leave your cell phone at home occasionally. Or like Corcoran suggests, "turn it off" at a point in the day that works for you.