Living at Your Desk

Cubicle_August2011_webFor most of us, we spend more waking hours at work than anywhere else. During the recession, positions may have been consolidated, and now with workloads peaking in some industries, the workweek is getting longer. So what do you need in your desk to survive at the office?

The Grooming Kit
You don’t want your 2 p.m. client meeting to know you had onions in your salad at lunch, so keeping items like breath mints, a toothbrush and toothpaste, dental floss, or mouthwash in your desk drawer isn’t a bad idea.  A small comb and hairspray may be handy for days when it’s windy or rainy and you have to lead a meeting. Your appearance creates a first impression, and you wouldn’t want that tainted by a bad hair day. For emergencies, keep pain relievers, antacids, and other medications on hand. You should also consider keeping deodorant or perfume on hand, just in case.

The Stationery Drawer
We’ve all heard that networking is key to professional development and a well-stocked stationery drawer can help with that. To foster deeper relationships, have blank or personalized notecards you can use for congratulatory or thank-you notes. When a peer is promoted or a co-worker chips in on a project, being able to write a quick personal note is a great way to show you care. And with the rarity of handwritten notes, you’ll really stand out. You may also want to stock up on inexpensive birthday, retirement, get well and sympathy cards so you can respond promptly to those occasions.

In line with stationery, make sure you have business cards and a portfolio with a notepad ready for last minute meetings. It will help keep you organized and looking professional in meetings. Have a system for storing business cards you receive into your electronic address book to make it easier to retrieve for correspondence.

The Kitchen Cabinet
While you don’t want a desk drawer full of rotting fruit, keeping a couple granola bars, packages of mixed nuts or crackers, or instant oatmeal on hand isn’t a bad idea to help you keep up your energy for a productive day. Having healthy snacks can offer you the right choice for crashing blood sugar or a growling stomach on a busy day. And if you want to win over your co-workers, you might consider stashing an emergency chocolate supply to celebrate hitting a deadline.

While you need to keep your desk and cubicle space clutter free, having some life essentials on hand can make “living” at the office a bit easier.


  1. Gary B

    Thanks for the tips. Working actively, physically, for more than 23 years then getting a desk job has been a huge change.
    Breaking up the day with alternating activities to promote
    blood circulation and reduce the chance of blood clots (especially for older workers) is important.

  2. Pingback: Dealing with the Death of a Co-Worker | Movin' On Up

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *