In theory...The One-Life Solution

Emma De Vita's weekly look at management-speak.

There's been a great deal of talk over the past couple of years about how you can square being a successful, high-flying manager and having a nice life outside work. The One-Life Solution, by Dr Henry Cloud, is a book that helps you to "reclaim your personal life while achieving greater professional success".

Cloud is a clinical psychologist who has garnered a bit of a reputation for himself in the US. His theory centres on setting boundaries at work in six key areas: ownership, control, freedom, responsibility, limits and protection. The idea is to build 'fences' around these in order for you to regain control of your life. There's a bit too much American-style breathless enthusiasm, but the core of what Cloud says is often wise.

Set boundaries over your time and your space, he says. For example, when you're at work, let it be known that your team members can't keep interrupting you during the day with petty problems that they should have the good sense and confidence to solve for themselves. Set a boundary by closing your door when you need peace and quiet. And set rules about the hours you work - it's funny how much extra work you can squeeze out in an afternoon if you know that you absolutely can't stay past 5.30pm. Procrastination quickly evaporates.

So why not get up and close your office door now? If you don't have an office door, find some sort of alternative tactic. Perhaps stick ear plugs in and look moody. That should do the trick.

- Emma De Vita is editor of the books pages on Management Today.

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