16 Handy Little Things Every 9-5 Career Gal Should Have At Her Desk

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I’ve had a lot of jobs. I worked as a receptionist all throughout my college years, and have worn many hats ever since: leasing office assistant, receptionist again, content writer, freelance copywriter and editor, and now, of course, managing editor to TFD! (I’ve also had three unpaid internships, but we won’t…go there.) And other than freelancing — a lot of which I do from a library, coffee shop, or…my couch — each of those jobs had at least one thing in common: an office, complete with my very own desk.

I’ve learned that I love offices. Namely, desks. To be able to have one space to call all your own, to fill with your own tchotchkes, photo frames, cute stationery products, as well as useful little things to get you through your day, is one of life’s little pleasures that just keeps on giving. I find that completely personalizing a workspace so that it’s someplace I really enjoy sitting, as well as making it clutter-free and comfortable, motivates me to work more than most other things. That being said, your desk is also where you likely spend most of your working week — it needs to be equipped with whatever you need. Personalizing your workspace extends far beyond inspiration boards and cute photos.

And let’s face it: most offices aren’t going to be a completely perfect working environment for you. They may be too hot, too cold, too stuffy, not liberal with supplies, provide terrible coffee, you name it. Any small thing you can add to help make yourself feel more ~at home~ in your office or at your desk, or more ready to tackle a small, unforeseen challenge that’s not even work-related, is worth it, in my opinion. So that’s what I focused on for this week’s Amazon Prime Roundup: things to make your desk more organized, more comfortable, and all around better for your productivity. If I were to dream up a perfectly-equipped personal workspace, it would include all of these things. Enjoy!

1. POUR OVER COFFEE MAKER

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Let’s get one thing out of the way: coffee is very important to everyone at TFD. Most of have at least one or two cups per day, if not more (not naming names). When I work from home, I only make pour over coffee. For one thing, I don’t have the counter space for a larger coffee maker, but it’s also super easy to make, and you have even more control over how strong you want it. | Bodum 11571-01US Pour Over Coffee Maker with Permanent Filter, 34 oz, Black

2. CERAMIC SOUP MUG

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Annie, our Sales & Partnerships manager, swears by this ceramic soup mug she got recently, and I honestly couldn’t be more excited to get one for myself. I have an arsenal of different soups I make in the winter, which are great, cheap meals that make plenty of servings and are endlessly freezable. I cannot stress the value of something that can be transported between the oven, microwave and dishwasher, that’s also a portable something that you can easily eat out of at work. | Corningware 20-Ounce Oven Safe Meal Mug with Vented Lid, French White

3. TWIN-SIZED FLEECE BLANKET

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I grew up in Atlanta, and spent a few summers in high school working as an intern (a paid one!) at a life insurance company. Even in very sticky and hot Georgia summers, blankets were a hot commodity thanks to the air conditioning that seemed to never not be on full blast. And no matter where I’ve worked, I find all offices to be cold. I think a twin-sized blanket is the perfect size to stash under a desk or in a file drawer, and fleece is a nice warm material that’s not too bulky. | Martex Super Soft Fleece Twin Blanket, Blue

4. INDIVIDUAL SPACE HEATER

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Have I mentioned that offices are cold? If you have room for a space heater under your desk and get cold often, I cannot recommend one enough. I had one of these under my receptionist desk in college and it made the Vermont winters just peachy. | Lasko 5307 Oscillating Ceramic Tower Heater, 16-Inch

5. DETACHABLE BACK SUPPORT

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Another idea stolen from my college work days is extra lumbar desk-chair padding. I’ve personally worked many, many hours on a couch, and I physically notice the difference when I sit somewhere with actual back support. These things make any not-great office chair so much more comfortable, and you can find them for not much money. | LoveHome Memory Foam Lumbar Support Back Support with 3d Ventilative Mesh cover and 3-way strap – Alleviates Lower Back Pain – (Black)

6. CLEAR ORGANIZERS

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The nice thing about clear organizers is that you don’t have to guess what they’re holding, and you can tell as soon as they start to get dusty or gross. Plus, they’re a great place to store bobby pins, hair bands, or mints, or anything else you don’t want getting lost *somewhere* in your desk drawers. | Choice Fun Multifunctional Acrylic Makeup Organizer Cosmetic Box 3.7″L3.7″W2.6″H

7. METAL-LESS PONYTAIL HOLDERS

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I personally really hate wearing hairbands on my wrist, but I always want to have them with me. Keeping some in your desk is an easy way to make sure you always have them handy. I love these ones especially, because they don’t have any metal that gets caught in your hair, and they tend to last longer than most! | Goody Ouchless Gentle Elastic Ponytail Holders, Black, 36 ct

8. PORTABLE CHARGER

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Keeping an extra phone charger at your office is basically second-nature to most of us now, and a portable charger is even better. You can take it with you to a meeting or out to lunch to make sure you never run out of juice during the work day, and then you can also be sure you have enough charge for the commute home — which is insanely important. | Anker PowerCore+ mini, 3350mAh Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger (3rd Generation, Premium Aluminum Power Bank), One of the Most Compact External Batteries

9. BLANK NOTE CARDS

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Let’s face it: most of us are not the best at remembering birthdays until we notice them while scrolling through Facebook feeds at lunchtime. If you already have a stack of multi-use cards (in pretty, cheery colors!) at your desk, you don’t ever have to worry about accidentally missing a coworker’s birthday. These are also great for occasional thank you and thinking-of-you notes! | Blank Note Cards – Multi-Color Pack – 40 Thank You Note Cards – Matching Color Envelopes Included

10. LINT BRUSH

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I spend half of my time in an apartment with a cat, and lint rollers are just a life saver. The disposable paper ones work great, but I also feel pretty wasteful using them, so I much prefer these reusable ones. This particular pack of two is a great deal, and bonus, you can keep one at home and one at your work desk! | 2 Magic Lint Brushes-For Pet Hair, Lint and Dust – Swivel Head

11. HOT SAUCE/OTHER CONDIMENTS

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The best hack for giving work/desk lunches a spruce: keep hot sauce at your desk, or in the communal fridge (with your name clearly marked, of course). I’m a Cholula girl, but keeping a small stash of whatever condiments you prefer will make lunchtime a little happier! | Cholula Hot Sauce Original 5oz. ( 2pk )

12. TIDE TO-GO PEN

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Frankly, these are a life saver. I find that they even work on pen marks, which somehow always land on me only on the days when I’m wearing a white shirt. Keep one in your desk, one in your purse or car, and one at home, and you’ll always be prepared. | Tide 0Mini Instant Liquid Stain Remover – 3 ct

13. CLEAR NAIL POLISH

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Okay, so I’m not actually suggesting you paint your nails at work. I feel like I’ve seen secretaries do this in 80s movies, but I’m also convinced it wouldn’t fly in any of the offices I’ve ever worked in. But a little trick I learned in my dance competition days is that, if you snag your tights, you can keep them from running by applying clear nail polish around the edges of the hole. Literally one of the best/easiest hacks, and it will save you the trouble of having to constantly be replacing tights. | Sally Hansen Mega Shine Top Coat 3460 Clear

14. SEWING KIT

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Being able to sew a button is simply just something everyone should know how to do. (There are many YouTube tutorials if you don’t know how to yet!) I’ve been in the Yikesville situation of losing a pants button at work once, and I had to go MacGyver them to stay up using just a paper clip, because no one at the office had a sewing kit, or even a safety pin. Learn from my mistake. | Mini Sewing Kit for Travel, Home, Campus, Car, Professional and Emergency Use. Premium Portable Starter Sewing Kits for Kids and Adults. Best Sewing Kit That Comes with Spool of Multicolours Thread

15. SPARE UMBRELLA

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I can’t tell you the number of times in my life where I’ve been stranded sans umbrella, and ended up having to buy one for $5-10 at the nearest Duane Reade. Keep an extra one at your desk in case of an unexpected downpour — and, of course, remember to return it the next day, so you don’t once again find yourself having to do without! | RayGone 60 Mph Windproof 10 Rib Travel Umbrella with Auto Open Close Button

16. MINI DRY SHAMPOO

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I owe a lot of my facade of put-togetherness to dry shampoo. And I’m not normally a stan for one specific product, but I will say that Batiste is the only brand of dry shampoo I will buy. If I didn’t use it, I’d have to wash my hair once a day to keep it from looking greasy, because that’s how greasy my hair is. I highly recommend keeping a travel-size one in your bag or desk for mid-day hair emergencies, especially if you are like me and could do with a little less oil up top. | Batiste Dry Shampoo 1.6 oz. Original (PACK OF 3)

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  • Jack

    So good!! I also keep makeup essentials like mascara, blush, and lip balm at my desk. I like to go barefaced but once in a while I like to step it up if I have a meeting or something. Also, tea, snacks, lotion, Maldon salt, vitamins, painkillers, bandaids.

  • Summer

    I actually LOVED my desk at my last job before I moved to Germany. The location of it within the building was excellent, I convinced management to let me order a Varidesk so I could work while standing, I had dual monitors and two mice (I’m right-handed but I also use my left hand for a lot of stuff and am forever using the mouse left-handed), I had a footrest, and a drawer which I reserved for “just in case” items.

    One of those items was a mini flat iron (this one for $10! https://www.amazon.com/inkint-Professional-Straightener-Flattener-Electric/dp/B017B545F2/ref=sr_1_6_s_it?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1481908756&sr=1-6&keywords=mini+flat+iron), which was super handy for sprucing up if I had evening plans after work, or if I happened to get rained on at lunch or something (the front of my hair does terrible, stupid things if left to dry on its own). I am also an advocate for boring desk snacks, like almonds. There if I really need them, but not so enticing that I’m going to plow through the whole bag in one sitting.

  • Mary Harman

    My own arsenal is lotion, chapstick, tampons, ibuprofen, nail file and clear polish (makes me feel a bit more put together if I find out I’m going to a big meeting, but I’m sure nobody notices).

    I also have a whole drawer that I keep stocked with lunch options in case I forget or don’t have time to grab my lunch before leaving for work. It’s mostly cans of soup and occasionally some pre-packaged foods like pretzels. I also like to keep a jar peanut butter at my desk for an apples ‘n’ peanut butter afternoon snack because I am a twelve year old.

    • Christian Gonzales

      Every person on my row keeps peanut butter in our desk drawers, so you are not alone!! Pretty proud of my snack drawer game haha

      • Mary Harman

        I’m SO glad to hear this! One of the guys in IT is always teasing me about my “Work Peanut Butter”!

    • Johanna

      Good list.
      Although I’m happy not having to worry about period supplies. Period cup <3

      • Mary Harman

        Yes. This. I have tried and tried and can get mine to cooperate. I recently had a discussion with a friend who said it took her 6 months to figure it out, so I’m thinking about going back to it for a while longer to see if I can make it work.

        • Johanna

          Six months seems crazy long… Took me a few days maybe? I used it before my period started so I could get used to inserting and removing it and then i was ready. What’s your issue with it?

          • Mary Harman

            I think my problem may be that I have a tiny vagina. I (and I assume everyone) has to fold it to get it inside, but I cannot manage to get it to open up. Too much pressure from the walls/not enough room, it seems.

          • Johanna

            Most people will be able to expand it if they can use a tampon or have sex, so it should be fine 🙂
            It sounds more like you’ve not quite gotten the hang of expanding it once it’s inside. It’s a good idea to “twirl” it around once it’s instead and feel around to make sure it has completely expanded.

            This video might help explain it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CBh6cAKapA

  • Tara

    The pack of note cards is a great idea! I’ve been caught off guard a few times with a coworker leaving or a birthday or something and wishing I had a card to give them. This is also an excuse for me to buy a pack of cute cards, so yay for that.

    Other suggested essentials: a Tupperware for storing any extraneous office leftovers you snag; chapstick and hand lotion; and a water bottle.

  • RIA

    I think this is super helpful because I’m starting a new job soon (maybe add on lotion and tampons ) but ya’ll do NOT need to spend $30.00 on an umbrella *big eye emoji*

  • I keep a mini deodorant cause I’m trash

  • Shelby

    TEA. Sure, my office provides tea bags…but my tea is far superior 🙂 I bring in my own small stash.

    I share my desk with a lot of people (we all work different shifts) but I try to keep tea bags + my tea thermos, pads, chapstick, and a full water bottle on hand. Bonus: the lost and found is always FILLED with umbrellas!

  • Anni

    If you wear contacts keep a spare bottle of solution in case one doesn’t sit right. Also if you work in a major corporation like I do, make sure you ask about office supply ordering!! My office is obviously not going to give me Tupperware but I do not have to pay for any supplies out of pocket (pens, note books, sticky notes and staplers) and I also found out I could request a exercise ball to sit on to help with posture in addition to my office chair. Unless you really love stationary which is something I don’t care about, find out what you can get for free!

    Also this sounds harsh but when someone leaves my company, they usually do not clean out their desk fully which means a lot of useful things (mostly company provided things) like magazine shelving, wall mounted pen holding sleeves become up for grabs

  • Winterlight

    I had a drawer full of stuff back when I worked at an office. Period supplies, backup food for days when I forgot my lunch, lip balm, kleenex, a small vial of my daily meds in case I missed one, tea and honey, any OTC meds I used, hand lotion, sunscreen, tiny umbrella, and a complete change of clothing (I worked for the government and we were supposed to keep one handy in case we had to shelter in place. Never did, but one day I got drenched from the waist down in the rain and being able to put on dry sweats, socks, shoes, and undies was a blessing.)

  • AN

    I can vouch for that specific portable battery. It’s amazing. It will completely charge my phone and then some. It takes a while for itself to get fully charged, but it’s totally worth it.