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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

9 Items You Should Always Have at Your Desk—No Matter What


My desk is many things: a place where I work, a lunch table, a cool spot to display the decorative notebook I never use, a medicine cabinet, a vending machine, and a Sephora—all rolled into one.

Such is the life of a working woman in 2015! What is my apartment but a place for me to hang out in between being at the office?

As someone fully resigned to the fact that I’ll spend more personal time with my desk chair than with my friends and family, I’ve learned the fine art of fitting a household-worth of items into my workspace.

Here’s what I recommend everyone always have on hand:

1. An Office Jacket

Pictured: J. Crew sweater

No, I don’t mean a formal blazer-like jacket—unless you’re a fancy businessperson, in which case, you do you. I mean a sweater, a sweatshirt, a pullover, or a snuggie (we’re just mere years away from those being ironic) that you can pull on when the office AC wars get crazy.

2. Deodorant

Pictured: Old Spice deodorant

In contrast to your office jacket, you’re also going to need deodorant. You’re an adult, so I don’t need to explain to you the ins and outs of sweating, but sometimes it happens at work and it’s a smart thing to have handy. Because when you need it, you probably need it.

3. A Few Grooming Items

Pictured: Stowaway Cosmetics Kit

Whether you’re meeting an important client who just stopped by the office on the fly or spontaneously going out for happy hour drinks with your co-workers, it always feels good to spruce yourself up a bit. From flossing and dabbing on lip balm to brushing your hair to giving yourself a full-on extreme makeover that makes people say, “Whoa, you look so different with eyeliner!”— having a few items on hand makes it easy to make yourself look (more) professional in minutes.

4. Food

Pictured: KIND Bars

At any given time, I have between one and 100 non-perishable items in my drawer. Seriously, if there’s a natural disaster in New York City, my best advice to you is to find my desk—granola bars for days. (On a related note: Perhaps, I’m not the best person to dole out natural disaster advice.) Whether you suffer from hanger—which is very real—or you’re the kind of person who gets so caught up in your work that you don’t have time to pop out to lunch, it’s always better if you can grab something quick. At least until you do have time to eat something more substantial.

5. Slippers

Pictured: UGG slippers

I know, it’s getting weird now—but hear me out. Winter is coming. And that means you’re going to wear boots and other large, clunky footwear to the office. Sure, you can keep a pair of nice flats or sneakers under your desk. Or, you can indulge your feet in pillow-y softness. Speaking from personal experience, it’s a dream come true when you come into the office covered in slush and get to put these on instead. Just know, that no matter what brand you get, they all come with free stares from confused co-workers.

6. One Dress-up Item

Pictured: Kurtzy ties

No matter how casual your office may be, there will one day be an occasion when you need to look a little bit more dressed up. Maybe an investor’s stopping by your startup, or a PR person wants you to drop by an awesome event, or your friends want to head to a fancy new bar. While you most definitely don’t need to have a back-up black tie wedding outfit ready, you should have one item that makes you look more put together. Be it heels, a blazer, a tie, or even a statement necklace—don’t be caught unprepared. After all, a shoe change could be the key to making yourself look more presentable.

7. Personal Necessities

Pictured: Kikkerland contact case

Yes, you can always run to the drugstore. But, more often than not, when the occasion arises (a.k.a., an emergency)—there’s no time. You know you better than I can ever hope to know you, so I won’t presume to tell you what’s a necessity. However, my emergency bag includes Advil, tampons, a contact case, and contact solution. Also an emergency granola bar, in case the first stash runs out. Stain remover and Band-Aids never hurt, either.

8. Headphones

Pictured: Beats by Dr. Dre wireless headphones

There are times when you want nothing more than to sit back in your chair and chitchat the day away with your beloved co-workers. Then, there are other times when you need to hunker down and get a crazy amount of work done quickly. And for those times, you’re going to need headphones. (Also for the times when you’re just not in the mood to be social. Nothing says “Leave me alone!” more than giant headphones.)

9. Phone Charger

Pictured: Portable phone charger

On one hand, you can almost always borrow someone else’s charger. On the other hand, life’s so much easier when you have your own you can use at any time. May I recommend a portable one? That way, in case you’re not into also having a work-bag-charger, you can easily use it on-the-go.

Did I miss anything? Tweet me and let me know.