I am very skeptical of open office plans. Research suggests they make people less productive and more hostile and anxious. If your office provides private spaces that you can escape to — a cafe or library or nook or cranny — take full advantage of them. If your office doesn’t have private spaces, you need to make your own version. This is critical. Go to the park or a nearby coffee shop. And you have to take away the feeling of guilt — you’re clearing your head. Control whatever stimuli you can to reduce the sense of bombardment. Some people send their phone calls to voice mail or turn off the ping on their e-mail. Others wear noise-canceling headphones, if this is socially acceptable in their office. Even if they’re not noise-canceling, it’s a signal that you’re focused. You have to find ways to draw physical boundaries. • Cain is the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.


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