Featured in The New York Times

THE guy in the next cubicle is yammering away on the phone. Across the room, someone begins cursing loudly at a jammed copy machine.

The headphones on the other end of your desk suddenly look very appealing. Would anyone mind if you tapped into your iTunes playlist for a while?

Some workers like to listen to music when they find themselves losing focus. They may also plug in their earbuds to escape an environment that’s too noisy — or too quiet — or to make a repetitive job feel more lively.

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