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Ah, the cubicle – it’s likely the most frustrating aspect of a job for anyone who calls four half walls their home away from home.  They can feel as though you’re boxed in and vulnerable with no privacy at the same time.  Still, as A. Harrison Barnes, founder of the job site, they’re a practical solution for bigger companies that must be creative in their efforts of finding room for a large number of employees.  There are a few things you can do, though, that can help you through those eight hours a day.

Because your space is limited, many employees discover their table top areas are precious and as a result, they tend to keep family photos on shelves or perhaps a filing cabinet if they have one.  They also aren’t likely to keep things like the always-fun bobble heads or even candy bowls on their desktops, either.  It’s distracting and often invites passersby to drop in and converse about the latest addition to your collection of Star Wars figurines.

Also, to keep those feelings of claustrophobia to a minimum, eliminate boxes in your area.  It’s tempting to keep that box of invoices from last year under your desk, but odds are, you can find another area outside your cubicle that will house them until you’re ready to return them to the warehouse.

Don’t be afraid to ask your co-worker who’s in the next cubicle if she doesn’t mind lowering the volume on Foreigner’s Greatest Hits.  You may love the 80s as much as the next person, but if you’re trying to figure out that Excel formula, it’s going to be too much of a distraction, says A. Harrison Barnes.

Take advantage of those unclaimed cubicle shelves or detachable trays that hang from the cubicle walls.  They’ll help keep you coordinated and you’ll feel far less frazzled when looking for last week’s purchase orders.

Conversations tend to echo in cubicles, says the founder.  Try to avoid personal calls while in your area and if you must take a call from the babysitter or school, encourage them to call your cell so that you can easily slip out while not interrupting your co-workers.

If it’s allowed, incorporate a mirror, especially if your back is to the entrance of your cubicle.  This will help you resist the urge to turn around every time you hear someone approaching.  Plus, says Barnes, mirrors make areas appear larger.

If there are no locking drawers on your desk, invest in a small box with a lock.  This will allow you to keep your private information private.  All of us can relate to the occasional lunch break spent paying our bills online, but you shouldn’t have to leave that information vulnerable just because you’re in a cubicle.

Finally, A. Harrison Barnes says the life in a cubicle isn’t forever.  Employer’s needs change and promotions occur all the time.  A bit of patience might serve you well right now in the long run.

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