Oh the office. It’s where many of us, me included, spend the majority of our days. We are issued a desk, a chair, a laptop and hopefully an additional monitor or two, but all in all, it’s a drab way of life in a worker’s day. Granted, there are items and trinkets that we can and do bring in to personalize, but often they don’t make the experience better, and as many others do, I began to feel trapped in this dullness. So, I have made it my mission to upgrade my desk, and learned a few tips along the way. Here is my list of my go-to accessories at my desk right now that have upgraded my office life.
We’ve all seen those desks piled high with trinkets, photos, books, and the like, leading to a bit of clutter. I am not a fan of clutter, and having gone through a few layoffs in the past, have rarely settled into a desk beyond what I can put in one box for a quick exit. I am not saying you should plan to be fired or let go, but it’s a good rule of thumb I preach to new hires. From moving desks often to needing to clean up quickly, limiting the amount of desk accessories to one box full. Pictures, pinned to the wall, a business card holder, and a pen cup really are all that adorn my desk aside from the standard equipment.
When I got to my new office, sitting on my desk was this old, crusty keyboard that just, well, I didn’t want to touch. I could see the filth, and for me, that was too much. Now, I could have replaced it with another generic, but as someone who types all day, I wanted to get something that was comfortable and fit my needs right away. Having been a fan of the older, heavier mechanical keyboards, I picked up the Nixeus MODA Mechanical Keyboard and did not look back. It has a great, firm feel when you type, and I always found that the number of finger-slips and mistakes dropped as I was more confident in the placement of my fingers on the keys. It is also one of the smaller width keyboards that I like, keeping my desk clean and minimalist still.
The nice thing beyond that? When I needed to clean it, I can remove the keys with ease and wipe it all down. Everything can be placed back easily and quickly. While the price might be a bit steep for some, I found it to be a worth-while investment for a tool I used 75% of my time at work.
Notebook and Pen
Don’t be that guy coming to a meeting with an iPad or other tablet. And the huge notepads in the supply closet are absolute crap and do nothing for your professional image. Yes, they are free, but again, I am not discussing how to get by, but how to upgrade your office life. When I am not at my desk, I am in meetings, and I rarely take my laptop with me so I can stay focused and engaged. Instead, I have my trusty pen and notebook, and I always go with the same brand. For notebooks, I trust Moleskin, and in the office, I have the Moleskine Classic Notebook. It’s inexpensive, unique, and classic looking, all while easily fitting in your day or travel bag. For my pens, I always buy Parker no matter the need. They are refillable, heavy, and come in a variety of styles and point sizes for any preference. The refills are inexpensive as well, and the ink always dries fas, meaning your nice notebook will have no additional smudges or ink transfers.
That office mug is disgusting. Put it down and walk away. Now, mugs can be fun little pieces of art that can spruce up anything. Personally, I love to buy hand painted and designed mugs from Etsy.com artists, finding one that fits my style and needs. You are supporting a local artist and getting something nobody else will have. The second option is the travel mug if you are not subjecting yourself to the office coffee. I am a huge fan of the Contigo Autoseal mugs with the easy clean lids. I have never had a leak or issue, and they clean quickly and easily. Pro tip: fill your mug with hot water before adding fresh coffee. This will heat up the inside so that the cold temperature does not shock the coffee, causing a bitter aftertaste. And if you are subjected to crappy office coffee that is already bitter, a sprinkle of salt in your cup will cut back on that significantly. It’s all science, and science is awesome.
Open air cubes and desks are great, but sometimes you need to escape from the noise. You could use those cheap headphones you got with your phone or your latest flight, or you can bring the symphonic sounds of your music to your ears in style, comfort, and clarity. I love the sound quality technology out there for this, especially when those around me tend to get a bit rowdy talking about, well, whatever it is they are talking about. In this case, I again went with Nixeus as I was so pleased with the quality of their keyboard. The newly released Nixeus In-Ear Earphones sit very comfortably in the ear, and with different options for the ear bud sizes, it was easy to find the perfect fit.
The cord does not easily tangle, wrapping nice into it’s little carrying case when not in use, and with the in-line mic, I am able to pop the headphones from my laptop to my phone and take a call easily. The metal ear piece is a bit heavier than other headphones I used to use, but that’s just an orientation time to the new fit and feel. While not truly noise cancelling, they work perfect for the office environment where I need to still be engaged to what’s going on around me.
Out of everything, I think the bag is the most important aspect of any professional role. From taking work home to the every day things we need, having an amazing bag is key. I am a big fan of the messenger style bags which can hold everything I need with ease, are very travel and go friendly, and out of the ones I have bought, have stoop up to everything I have thrown at them. Easily carried off one shoulder or across body, they also are versatile. My recommendation are the Timbuk2 bags. Not only do they have a style and design to fit any of your needs, but the newer ones are coming out with TSA compliant laptop sleeves and some of the best straps on the market. You can design one however you like, showing off your favorite colors and patterns, and get all the accessories you need. I own two actually; one for work with my laptop, notebooks, and other necessities, and another just for photography. Another option would be the Half Mass bags from Patagonia. I own one of these as well, and while not used as often, is still an amazing bag to use for work.