15 desk essentials


Almost as soon as I’d signed my job offer, I hopped over to Pinterest for the top cubicle-decorating tips. I searched for copper paper clips and succulents that thrive indoors (with essentially zero natural light), and was all prepared for decorating that space…Then I realized that was all exterior. What actually went in my desk? What would be useful, not just pretty? This is hardly a definitive list, but it’s my standard, and it’s all the things that I think make your desk/workspace an enjoyable environment. And these aren’t exclusively for a workplace environment either! A lot of the things listed below are things that I kept stocked in my desk at college.

  1. Pens, pencils, notepad
    The essentials. And yes, you do need both pens and pencils, because you’ll have a meeting when you need to rework, erase, rework, erase something, and you’ll have notes you need to last. Hit up the dollar section in Target for some seriously cute personality pens, but keep the notepad simple. For me, that meant gel pens, but countered with a white legal pad (which I’d always wanted because they seemed v. business professional).
  2. Tea and coffee
    Because sometimes the communal keurig will be out. Keep your favorites stocked in your desk so that when you make the trip to the break room late Friday afternoon, you can still get your Starbs fix.
  3. Mug
    There are a couple of great reasons for this one. First, easy spot of color/personality. Mugs are SO cheap, and such a fun way to brighten your desk (How cute is this Anthro one? To date, one of my all-time favorites!). I’m also someone who hates drinking out of paper cups, because of the amount of lipstick I wear, so having a ceramic mug is just much prettier to look at. Also, if you drink as much tea as I do, you can blow through disposable cups pretty quickly, so it’s a good way to be economical. Full disclosure though: I feel so much put together with my fingers wrapped around a mug. That little boost of confidence is great for a meeting!
  4. Blanket
    Centrally controlled temperatures are a necessary evil for office buildings. In order to keep offices from burning up, larger spaces are kept cool…for which us mortals suffer. I drop this IKEA throw over the back of my chair, and it’s perfect to drape over my legs when a pencil skirt can’t protect me from the elements. And by elements, I mean AC. *shudders of dismay*
  5. Scissors
    You’re probably not cutting out paper dolls at work, but you’ll have a loose thread on your favorite cardigan, or someone will need help opening a package. You might not use them more than a couple of times, but always good to have handy, just in case.
  6. Tissues
    For unexpected sneezes and for when you spill coffee. Better to have and not need, than need and not have.
  7. Hot Sauce
    For me, it’s Cholula, but for you it could be something else. Keeping a bottle in a drawer instantly ups your lunch, and saves you from having to stash hot sauce packets.
  8. Disposable cutlery
    Because there’s nothing worse than running to chipotle on your 15 minute break, barely making it back to your desk, and realizing you have to go back to the breakroom and open a set of pre-wrapped cutlery, just for a fork for your burrito bowl. Or needing a spoon for your peanut butter (which isn’t on the list because, in my opinion, everyone should ALWAYS have access to some crunchy pb, so it’s redundant). Or realizing you should’ve cut your pasta before you left home. Just keep ’em stocked.
  9. Lotion
    Industrial soap in the restrooms + recycled air = dry dry dry hands. Keep a neutral scent (this is my go-to), so your coworkers don’t start sniffing the air suspiciously.
  10. Water
    You’re sitting for 8 hours a day; the inactivity is not the best for your waistline. Drinking water not only keeps you hydrated and more energized, it will get you up on your feet for quick trips to the restroom. Win win!
  11. Heating pad
    Obvious reason aside, it is SO nice to have one of these on hand for the day when the office feels like the North Pole. See no. 4 for reference.
  12. Headphones
    As much as I wish the rest of my office appreciated the perfection that is Ed Sheeran’s new album, or the boost of motovation that comes from working to the Hamilton soundtrack, or the soothing qualities of Le Carnaval des Animaux…they do not. Headphones are the happy solution. I usually just keep one headphone in, so I can keep an ear on the conversations around me, and be attentive if I need to be.
  13. Granola
    It’s going to happen: 2:30pm. Lunch was 3 hours ago, dinner is 3 from now, and water isn’t cutting it. You have to snack. So at least try to keep some sort of healthy alternative in your desk. Otherwise you’ll have cheetos dust on your fingers and keyboard and regrets. So many regrets… These are my favorites to keep on hand!
  14. Fairy lights
    For that special touch of whimsical. Esp. if you’re in a male dominated office environment (*cough* software dev *cough*), fairy lights are just such a nice touch. Most desks will have some sort of light, so these are a great alternative. Plus you can grab some battery powered ones, to keep your boss happy. And they’re just so pretty.
  15. Chocolate
    Yes, yes, I know I just said to keep a healthy snack. But these are for your desktop: they go in a pretty bowl (again, hey hey @Target dollar section), and, in addition to giving you a mid-afternoon sugar boost, they might just win you a few friends.

Hope you enjoyed poking around in my desk! Did I leave any office essentials out? What are some things you keep on hand?

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