When Cor­co­ran, 68, sold off her real es­tate firm, the Cor­co­ran Group, in 2001, she reached a mile­stone that leads many en­trepreneurs to call it quits. Seven years later, pro­duc­ers for Shark Tank came knock­ing. To­day, she’s called on to ap­pear at more even

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I have a young fam­ily to care for, and wres­tle with ap­por­tion­ing my time and fo­cus be­tween my obli­ga­tions at home and the de­mands of my busi­ness. Like every en­tre­pre­neur, I’m pulled in way too many di­rec­tions, and I of­ten feel like a pup­pet on some­body else’s string jock­ey­ing my time be­tween fam­ily obli­ga­tions, help­ing the en­trepreneurs I’ve in­vested in, film­ing Shark Tank, and fly­ing to mo­ti­va­tional speeches in mul­ti­ple ci­ties. Too much on your plate gets in the way of build­ing the busi­ness you dreamed of hav­ing when you first started out. Lucky for all of us, time is re­li­ably fair and doles out 24 hours a day to ev­ery­one, but it’s how you make the most of it that re­ally counts.


I or­ga­nize my to-do list to ac­com­plish the growth I care so much about. It helps me avoid feel­ing like a jackrab­bit jumping from one task to an­other and not com­plet­ing the im­por­tant things first. I make my to-do list at night, trans­fer­ring items I couldn’t get done that day. I also email items to my as­sis­tant as I think of them when I’m trav­el­ing or out­side the of­fice. I rate the items in or­der of im­por­tance: A, B, or C. The A’s are where the gold is. These are the things that will move my busi­ness ahead and make me money. I find there are re­ally only three to five A items on any given day, and I do those first. I al­ways sched­ule and tackle A tasks in the morn­ing, as it’s my most pro­duc­tive time. My to-do list is in charge of my life, so I give it proper re­spect. I’ve tried dif­fer­ent on­line to-do lists, but the Delete but­ton never gives me the sat­is­fac­tion that I get from cross­ing off an item on pa­per.


Here’s what I do: I di­vide my world into two parts—my busi­ness and my fam­ily—and I keep them to­tally sep­a­rate. When I’m at work, my hus­band and kids and friends don’t call. Ev­ery­one has my as­sis­tant’s phone num­ber for any emer­gency, and Gail knows how to find me. When I’m at the of­fice, work is what I’m there to achieve. I never think of my kids. When I get home at night, I fo­cus 100 per­cent on my fam­ily. There’s din­ner, the usual home­work, bed­time rou­tines, and the mini crises that come with all par­ent­ing, but at night I don’t check emails or an­swer the phone. I plug my phone into the charger at the front door, and the next morn­ing, I grab it as I walk out the door. I re­al­ized a while back that the con­stant flow of email­ing and tex­ting was my per­sonal en­emy and de­clared war. It was steal­ing the pre­cious time I had with my de­li­cious kids. Not any­more. I’m smarter, and I di­vide my life into two sep­a­rate parts.


I like to or­ga­nize my week so sim­i­lar tasks fall on the same day. It makes me more pro­duc­tive. Past be­hav­ior is the best pre­dic­tor of fu­ture be­hav­ior, so I sit down twice a year with last year’s cal­en­dar in hand. I find repet­i­tive work pat­terns to or­ga­nize my tasks more ef­fec­tively. For ex­am­ple, last year, most of my speeches fell on ei­ther a Tues­day or Wed­nes­day. So I plan my long-term meet­ings to avoid Tues­days and Wed­nes­days. Most me­dia in­ter­views last year were on a Wed­nes­day or Thurs­day, so I have time blocks in my cal­en­dars on Thurs­days to an­tic­i­pate those calls. I also plan my calls to clients, con­sul­tants, and pro­duc­ers in the same time block when I’m at my desk any­way, as it’s more ef­fi­cient. On Mon­days, I fo­cus on all my long-term A pro­jects, del­e­gat­ing por­tions of them and fol­low­ing up be­fore the week kicks into high gear. It also sets the tone for the week.

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