what items have made your life at work easier or more pleasant?

A reader writes:

Last week’s post about the modesty panels on desks made me a) thankful my desk has a modesty panel, when I’ve never given it any consideration before, and b) think of a possible post idea. I would love to know what office supplies/office items commenters have purchased or have been given that made their work much easier. With the new year starting, I have supply money that I want to use to buy great things that make my work easier, more efficient, more pleasant, etc. In the past, one of my best purchases has been a really nice pair of over-the-ear headphones!

Readers, have at it! What items have made your life at work easier or more pleasant? Share in the comments.

{ 1,189 comments… read them below }

        1. zora*

          Dude, two monitors for REALS. And I’ll add an accessory to that, the monitor mounting arms that mount to the desk. So you get the two monitors AND the desk space! Best of both worlds.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            I’ll go one better: a standing desk (Varidesk, easily adjusted up and down) with dual monitors and the mounting arm, so my monitors travel up and down with me and my desk. :)

            1. YNWA*

              I’ve had 2 monitors for years and love them (2 x 22″), I used to have the Varidesk as well and loved the standing option. I left the company, then came back again and my old desk & Variesk were gone! Now I’ve got to talk my boss into buying me a standing desk…wish me luck! I just got a new laptop and rather than a docking station it has a USB-C dock, which takes up much less room on the desk and I’ve ordered a vertical stand for the laptop, to free up more desk space.
              Everyone in the company has 2 monitors, but there is one lady who only uses one, the other is an expensive Post-It Note board!!!

            2. Goya de la Mancha*

              LOVE my varidesk. It takes up quite a bit of space on my actual desk, but I feel it’s well worth the spacial sacrifice.

            3. Ornery PR*

              Yes!!! I’m spoiled rotten. I have an adjustable standing/sitting desk (the whole top moves up and down and saves preset heights), AND three monitors that are mounted and can swing around when I want to show a visitor something. As much as I like the freedom of working from home, my office is so much more comfortable and gives me the tools to make work more efficient. My bosses are amazing. Everyone in the office, including those in the open cubicle area, have these adjustable standing desks and at least 2 monitors mounted on them. I don’t know how I worked before my 3rd monitor :)

              1. Jan*

                I admit I’m spoiled rotten that way – two screens at work, with a fairly large (6′ by 2.5′) desk that moves up and down.
                I liked it so much at a previous job that I got the same set-up for my home office – I used to work rather long hours from home, mostly over the weekends, and it helped a lot.
                Two screens is a boon for productivity – As a second screen will go for $150-200 or so, the productivity increase should pay for it in a pretty short time in many jobs.

                Another thing that makes sense for me is a tablet (Samsung in my case) as I need to refer to and review documents while on the move a lot. I got one with a pen, allowing me to annotate and highlight documents right on the screen. This kind of doubles as a substitute for the second screen while traveling, and to be productive at all on economy class flights (where the laptop is not really an option as soon as the person in front of you reclines their seat).

          2. LizLemoncake*

            For the desk: Two Monitors on mounting arms. Once you switch to two monitors, you cannot go back.

            For breakroom: ICE MACHINE. I love the ice machine.

            1. Hlyssande*

              Ice machine with the GOOD ICE! The water machines in our breakrooms do water and crushed ice. So good.

            2. Wendy Darling*

              Current employer has an ice machine that makes NUGGET ICE. It also dispenses cold water, and they have an entire fridge full of free fizzy drinks (sodas and also lots of kinds of flavored water). But really the ice machine is the best part. We had no ice at my last job and I used to go to the cafeteria and ask for a cup of ice several times a week.

              1. labreza*

                Our ice machine in the break room right around the corner from my office has been broken for two months, and I miss it so much! Rumor has it that it’s supposed to be fixed in the next 2 weeks though!

              2. D.W.*

                NUGGET ICE is literally the holy grail of ice. I would be in hog heaven.

                I actually eat eight trays of ice everyday at home. Two at at time. Before work, right after work, after dinner, right before bed. I fill the trays 1/3rd of the way so that I basically have ice chips.

                1. Lauren*

                  I used to do this (eating trays of ice), but once I started taking iron supplements the ice craving completely disappeared! I used to lust after nugget ice.

                2. Liz*

                  Funny, I was just going to say ‘craving ice is a sign of anemia’ but Lauren’s comment laready got there.

                3. Candi*

                  There’s a reason why, when they ask about nonfood pregnancy cravings, ice is on the list.

                  Don’t just jump in with supplements, though. Check with your doctor in case there’s an underlying cause that needs to be treated.

                  (Worried because a friend went to a doctor for a checkup for something else. They found her iron level was BAD. As in they prescribed a quadruple dose of liquid supplement to get her somewhere within the lower range of “normal”. There’s three different things that could have caused it, fortunately none of them lethal.)

              3. It's-a-me*

                Everyone please be wary of ice machines and make sure you know they are being cleaned regularly and PROPERLY, they can be a breeding ground for horrible stuff if improperly maintained (and no, freezing the water does not kill the germs/bacteria)

          3. hayling*

            Everyone at my office has sit-stand desks, and they’re great. I lucked out and got a monitor with an arm. Saves space on the desk, and makes it easy to adjust the height when you go from sit to stand.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        I was ordered to get a second monitor by one of my bosses. (He was justifying getting a second monitor for himself.) I didn’t really want to devote the desk space, but while “the boss isn’t always right, he’s always the boss.”

        Now, of course, I couldn’t do my job without it.

        The water cooler (which produces hot water hot enough for tea) is very nice, too.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          Yes! I almost never drink tea at home just because it takes longer, but the water cooler at work is so handy that I’ve been tempted to get one for home as well.

        2. Observer*

          It just blows me away how many people resist getting a second monitor. And it makes life at work SOOO much better!

        3. autophage*

          In the office, I have two large external monitors (in addition to the 15″ screen on my laptop).

          I typically use them to organize what I’m looking at – typically with the small screen in the middle for email, and specific task-oriented things on each external (I’m in software development, so I might have source code open on the left monitor and a bug report on the right, for example).

          At home, I like being able to move throughout the house, but I bought a USB-powered monitor, so I still have at least one extra monitor – and it doesn’t need an extra outlet, meaning I can move around freely without having to bring an extra cable.

          Another important use case for extra monitors is being able to screen-share (eg, giving a presentation) and still being able to communicate with other people in a way that isn’t visible to the whole meeting.

      2. Amadeo*

        LOL, this too. On the rare occasion when I work from home (or work on projects at home) I have a 15 inch laptop. I am badly spoiled by my two huge monitors at work.

          1. LavaLamp*

            I’m that weird person who has to have cool office supplies. So I have the cute stapler with colored staples, and the fancy binders that have cute patterns on them. My coworkers tease me about my stationery obsession but I’m organized and nothing is unprofessional.

            My personal favorite thing is that my work is totally chill with letting us use our own mice and keyboards. Totally rocking a purple mouse over here.

            Also; my two huge 24″ monitors that are literally my second set as the first set decided to try to do a ring impression and go funky. IT replaced them ASAP. And the fact that the IT dept takes care of us and makes sure our equipment is up to date.

        1. a Gen X manager*

          YES! I have a 17″ laptop screen and it drives me bonkers trying to do my work on it! (spoiled!) I only have one monitor at work, but it is large and I can have two full pages working at the same time. SO grateful.

        2. Teapot Tester*

          I bought a cheap used monitor to use when I work from home, so I use my laptop screen and the monitor for dual monitors. It’s not as good as my 21″ monitors at the office but it’s better than it was.

          1. Catabodua*

            Teapot Tester – I have to figure out how to do this. I’m almost at a point where I feel like I can’t work from home because of only being able to use my laptop monitor.

            1. Ornery PR*

              It’s worth looking into for sure. My work gave away all the old monitors when we got new ones, so I took one home and hook my laptop up so there are dual screens. Working from home majorly sucked before I did this. Monitors are cheap, and I’d bet you could look in classifieds for offices (like mine did) giving them away or selling them because they’ve upgraded. I can’t recommend it enough.

              1. Catabodua*

                Oh, I don’t even need to do that. We’ve got an old monitor sitting in our garage to get rid of “someday” that has a small green vertical line on the right hand side. I don’t want to use it on the regular, but hooking it up as a backup for the odd day I’m working from home would be wonderful.

                I just have to figure out cables and configurations and such, which I am not that good at. However, I’ve been told several times that I should be able to do it fairly easily.

                1. Anonymoose*

                  You may need to purchase an adapter if it’s a newer laptop, but otherwise it’s super simple. Plug it in and pretend like you’re extending your screen to a monitor and let ‘er rip.

            2. Ari Marie Bobo*

              Working from home, I plugged a 32′ TV into my laptop as a second monitor. I have it on a bookcase in front of my desk. I adjust the settings so I can drag pages between the two screens. I’m blind as a bat and I’ll never go back!

            3. Misschrissy*

              I bought a portable monitor for my laptop for home or when I travel. Cost maybe $80 & plugs right into the USB port. Best money ever spent.

            4. Thatguy42*

              Do a search for “Dual Monitor Adapter” on the electronics site of your choice (newegg, amazon, etc). Find one that meets your price range and connections on your extra monitor and PC, and enjoy! Had one for about three years before I saved up enough to buy a computer with an actual video card. :)

        3. Wendy Darling*

          I have a 13″ 720p laptop. If I don’t use an external monitor some of our internal tools aren’t even usable because they don’t fit on the screen and cannot be scrolled. I’m not sure what they were thinking giving us these laptops.

          1. Candi*


            Considering how omnipresent laptops are in the workworld today, I’m surprised the software can’t handle being used on/through a laptop. Is it a current programming impossibility, or did someone not think things through?

            13″ stinks, though. 15″ is as small as I’m willing to deal with.

            1. Jan*

              In my company, we can select 12″ (small), 14″ (regular) and 16″ (large, those beasts are heavy!) – or opt for a Surface aka laptop/tablet hybrid (12″).
              I went for the 12″ as I’m traveling a lot and like the weight savings plus at least some hope that I may be able to work in economy class – anything larger gets crushed when the whale in the seat in front of me suddenly and powerfully reclines.
              In the office, it’s dual 22″ screens hooked up.
              Next time, I might get the Surface (wasn’t an option 4 years ago when I got my current laptop, due for replacement this year).

          2. Graflex*

            On my old but trusty (and stupidly cheap) 13 inch 2009 MacBook, with the task bar on the bottom, I don’t have the vertical screen space to show the “save” button in Microsoft Word. It doesn’t fit on the screen. Move the mouse towards it, and the task bar pops up.

            (I just put the task bar on the left, which I like a bit better anyways.)

        4. It's-a-me*

          My office just asked us if we want to take their old monitors home. Called dibs on 2 x 19 inch monitors (not great quality but meh)

      3. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Yes! I’ve worked with two monitors for so long that I don’t think I could go back to a single display.

        1. Scott*

          I’m surpised they don’t make double sized monitors now that I think about it. But then I would demand two double sized monitors. Eventually my entire office would surround me 360 degrees with monitors. That would be perfect.

          1. paul*

            I got to the tour the local NOAA office and a few of them had setups like that. It was like something out of a movie, and excited my tech lust in ways I’d never felt before. And these weren’t crappy 15″ flat panels, these were *big* high quality monitors hooked up to some sort of professional graphics card(or maybe multiple, not sure) that could handle, I kid you not, 9 screens. They had some sort of special mounting system to handle them all, in a 3×3 configuration.

            *sigh* desktop goals.

            1. SusanIvanova*

              Software developer here: 5 monitors + a laptop, connected to 4 computers with some overlap – one computer ran 3 monitors, other computers had to share monitors. Just like those scenes in Iron Man where Tony Stark is bouncing back and forth between an arc of monitors.

          2. Manders*

            I work in a coworking space with glass walls, so it’s easy to see the setups of other companies. There’s one that gives all its coders MASSIVE monitors–I think they’re actually flat-screen TVs hooked up to their computers.

            1. Chalupa Batman*

              Conference rooms at my job have giant touch screen monitors-I have a 70 inch TV at home (Mr. Batman’s an electronophile), and these monitors have to be close to that big. Every time use one of them, I feel like a Jedi. “I just moved through six pages of documents and a Prezi USING ONLY MY HANDS.”

          3. MerciMe*

            I actually like two separate monitors better. I dropped the resolution and brightness on one for ease of reading, then I swap things into the other monitor when I need to focus on detail or see the big picture. So much easier on my eyes and fewer migraines.

            1. Jessica*

              Wow, this is brilliant. I have 3 monitors but never thought of giving them different settings! I might have to experiment.

          4. Pine cones huddle*

            I need double monitors and one that can be oriented vertically. Great for viewing a whole page at a time.

            1. Tax Nerd*

              Same here! I can look at a source document in one screen, and the tax return on the other, with a minimum of scrolling and zooming. It’s great, though harder to find monitors that rotate, and aren’t too skinny when rotated.

        2. Alli525*

          YEP. I actually prefer to work at the office now, rather than at home, because my one laptop screen just doesn’t cut it on days when I’m stuck at home due to snow or whatever.

          1. NacSacJack*

            I bought an AOC monitor for $79 just for that reason. I wish I could have two but I have to have my laptop open because they don’t give us docking stations to take home. More on my opinion of two monitors in a later comment to be written.

        1. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

          To the point that I would most likely not accept a job if I knew that there was no way I could have two monitors.

          Also true story: My one toxic workplace only gave me one monitor. I swear it was the size of a postage stamp. I worked with spreadsheets and databases pretty regulary, and I just could. not. function. I begged my boss for a second monitor. Repeatedly. Then one day I see a larger wide screen monitor sitting by the door/garbage. I asked if it was working. It was. Boss upgraded his monitor and instead of giving me his old monitor he was going to throw it out!!!! Marched in and asked for the monitor. He refused on the grounds of “you just don’t need it” (I mean I get it he’s the boss, but why would any boss deny their employee something that literally costs nothing!). I kept at it, and at least got him to let me switch out my tiny postage stamp monitor for this slightly better widescreen one. It was one of the most petty, irrational things that I’ve ever witnessed. To explain – it was a tiny family-owned company. Dad owned it, two daughters + son ran it, 5 people in office were all other family members or long time family friends (worked there for 20+yrs), my and one other role were the only non-family employees and they treated us like disposable cups.

          1. The Strand*

            Ridiculous. Even if he were to argue on the merits of the electrical cost, no doubt the older, tiny “postage stamp” required a lot more power than the widescreen.

          2. Been There, Done That*

            Eww. Wasteful–throwing out a perfectly usable item instead of letting an employee benefit from it, or even donating it somewhere. Re “petty, irrational” + “tiny family-owned company” — been there, I get ya. The worst I ever worked for, Boss Owner Tyrant routinely fired people who made it to the three-year mark on the theory that they’d been there long enough.

        1. OfficeSpace*

          One more vote for the second monitor! I thought it was super excessive when I first started working at my current organization, but within two weeks was in love with it and can’t imagine going back. It makes so many tasks easier (and saves paper in my head, because instead of printing something to be able to reference it while I type, I can throw it on my second screen)

        2. EddieSherbert*

          I’m totally one of the folks who has three monitors…and I LOVE it.

          I actually bought a giant gaming monitor for my home office so I’d feel like I still have the same monitor space that I have at work.

            1. a Gen X manager*

              YES! When I have a big task to do during off-hours, I’ll literally drive to work and do it instead of dealing with the one smallish screen at home!

          1. Red Reader*

            I work from home, and on one leg of my L-shaped workspace is a 24″ and 27″ monitor for my work computer, and on the other is two 24″ and one 27″ monitor for my personal computer. My housemates call it my control center. :)

            1. Ann O'Nemity*

              I prefer a single large monitor. I had double monitors for a few years before getting an iMac with a 27″ screen. The single screen is big enough, and I like the clean look.

          2. Aurion*

            Three monitors is a godsend.

            Due to Windows updates and driver issues my three monitor setup at work was flickering for two weeks and was driving me up the wall and I had to downgrade to two monitors for a while. Yesterday (after everything was fixed) my boss stopped by in my cube to ask me a question. I pulled up the relevant screens on my three monitors and had the numbers crunched in under fifteen seconds. She just stared at me and went “…you’re really fast with this”.

            This is why I love three monitors. I can see everything and do not need to abuse alt-tab.

        3. Amber T*

          It took a while to get used to having a second monitor, now I don’t think I could work as efficiently without it (the times that I’m working at home with just my laptop, I’m certainly not). I even catch myself grumbling “ugh I need a third monitor.” I don’t… but sometimes I think it would be nice lol.

        4. James B*

          Beware of overkill – at one point I had five (I’m a managing editor of a news organisation) and found it *very* easy to get distracted! Also, staffers found it intimidating to come to my office while I was sat behind a console of screens. Three is enough for me now!

          1. James B*

            That said, I can have as many monitors as I like – but I can never find a blue pen for love nor money!

        5. Aerin*

          They gave us a third monitor when we rolled out chat support. I initially didn’t think I would use it much, but now it’s hard to drop back down to two screens when I work remotely. (One is right out. I even got a USB monitor for traveling.)

      4. Antilles*

        A second monitor is one of those things that if you’ve never had it, it seems totally superfluous…but after a few days, you look back and can’t even imagine what it was like not having it.

      5. Higher Ed Database Dork*

        Oh yes! The second monitor is an absolute must. Sometimes I work from home on my laptop and I hate the one teeny monitor. I suppose I could set up my own 2-monitor station but I don’t have the room right now!

      6. Snark*

        I sort of split the difference and bought a cosmetically damaged but functionally perfect 30in monitor. I can side-by-side two documents, with navigation panes.

        1. paul*

          Try a 27″ primary and a 20″ secondary in portrait mode…that’s my home setup and oh man, you’ve gotta try it if you have desk space.

          1. Oranges*

            I just got a 4K monitor at work. Before I had two 1020(ish) monitors and my laptop screen so I basically have the same screen acreage but I miss having two because you can’t angle the 4K so I kinda ignore the far right 1/3rd. Bah!

            1. paul*

              When graphics cards are not so expensive (god I hope bitcoin pops already, stupid miners) and 4k monitors are cheaper I’m looking forward to a 4k 27″ or so main monitor and my current 27″ going to portrait mode; it works for stacking multiple word documents on vertically that way.

          2. Mishakal*

            At my office (IT department) everyone slowly upgraded to three monitors a few years ago. So when the company at large decided that everyone needed new desktops and monitors we all got three new (and much bigger) monitors. Since the new monitors were so big, I now have two monitors set to landscape mode and one set to portrait. mode My boss and a couple of coworkers actually have all three of their monitors all set to portrait mode.

      7. paul*

        I got one at work and promptly bought one for the house (actually upgraded my main monitor and used my old one as a secondary).
        Holy crap multiple screens is amazing.

      8. essEss*

        Absolutely this! I have the option to work from home when I want to, but that second monitor is the only thing that makes my office better than working from home most days.

      9. Justme, The OG*

        YES to the second monitor. My old job only had one, and needed two. My new job had two standard, and it’s great even if not always necessary.

        1. Interested Bystander*

          Work from home days are so painful, because I go from 2 22 inch monitors to one 15 inch laptop screen.

          1. starsaphire*

            I literally have to employ my personal laptop to act as the “read” screen and use my work laptop as the “write” screen when I WFH, for this exact reason.

            Also, the double screens at work really helps my fibro fog, in that I always know the thing on the right is the thing I’m updating and the thing on the left is the source, no matter how foggy my brain is at the moment.

      10. rubyrose*

        Three monitors here. One extra provided by the company, one is mine (work at home). Can’t live without them.

      11. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Double monitors have ruined me for life. I don’t ever want to go back. When I first saw someone use them, I thought they were being ridiculous. Now I never ever want it to change.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Same!!! The first time I saw it, I was like “why would you possibly need two displays?” Once I got into a position where I had them though…

        2. LibKae*

          Yeah. And now I’ve started passing peoples’ desks who have three monitors and I think “Ohhh. That must be nice!!” Monitor envy. It’s a real thing

      12. FJ*

        I was on the two monitor bandwagon for a a while but l I now much prefer one super-wide monitor. I think it’s 31inches wide so I can do things side-by-side pretty well. My home office has only one regular monitor and it’s not the same.

        ALSO – iPad as 2nd monitor for a laptop connected via USB cable. Duet Display is the app I use. Makes traveling soooo much better.

        1. Marty*

          Clearly you haven’t done the 2 super wide monitors thing. Three is no going back. (Alternately, 1 super wide monitor and two less wide ones.) Either way, more monitor is always a plus.

        2. Khaleesi*

          Game changer! I always bring my iPad Pro on work trips and awkwardly used it as a “sort-of” second monitor. So excited to try this on my next trip!

      13. Buffy Summers*

        Amen to that! I thought I wouldn’t like it but now I feel like I couldn’t live without it! I’m job searching and I’m seriously thinking about making that part of my salary negotiations….
        Them: Ok, we’re offering you $50,000
        Me (slyly): How about 45 and two monitors?
        Them: You’re joking, right?
        Me: Fine, 40 and two monitors, but that’s my final offer!
        Them: Deal.
        Me (thinking): Haha! Idiots!

      14. Modernhypatia*

        Second monitor. So so so much better.
        (Librarian: it makes it so much easier to have a catalog window or email up, and the data I’m working from in the other screen.)

      15. misskleio*

        Oh, man. My second monitor was/is work-changing. I had to fight the IT department for it (They don’t like to “support them” even though my budget admin approved it), but it was worth it. I get so much done, so much more efficiently.

        1. Observer*

          Your IT department sounds like idiots, to be honest. It’s been years since 2 monitors have been dead simple (at least if you are using computers that are not trash.)

      16. Zahra*

        Oh, yeah. 2 monitors is a non-negotiable for me. Also, mounting arms that allows you to place them one above the other instead of side-by-side. Shifting eyes up and down is easier and faster than left-right.

      17. Morag*

        I haven’t read all comments, but why two monitors? What’s so good about it? I have the option and a boss urging the second on me, but don’t quite understand why it’s helpful.

        1. An Auditor*

          I won’t speak for anyone else, but I work with spreadsheets and data a huge amount. Being able to have two items open and compare back and forth from one document to another without having to print either one makes my life easier by several orders of magnitude. It also means I can have my work open on one monitor and be looking at it when I tope a ocument/email. Or have Skype open in one window to discuss something with my boss and have the actual document we are talking about up on the other screen so I am not having to switch back and forth. I wasn’t sure why it would be useful before I got it, and now hate it when I have to go to client offices where all I have to work with is my laptop screen. I spent (if I recall correctly) all of $40 on a used LCD monitor and use my laptop screen for my second monitor. I would never want to go back if I could avoid it.

          1. LavaLamp*

            This. I work with floor plans and have to create documents from the data off said plans. So nice not having to switch back and forth between two programs.

        2. Mananana*

          If you find yourself printing out a document so you can refer to it while working with something on-screen, then you’d benefit from a 2nd monitor. The ability to Ctrl-F in a spreadsheet to find the data I need to complete a task on the second monitor is priceless. Try it out for a month — I think you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.

        3. Fuzzy pickles*

          Requested revisions on one monitor, design program on other. Code on main, browser preview on secondary. E-mail and task list on secondary regardless of main. That’s what I do – basically work on the main one, glance at the reference on the secondary one.

        4. Diatryma*

          If you have a bunch of papers on your desk, do you set them up in different piles or put them all in the same folder? It feels the same way to me– I want to be able to put references *here* and tape up the common conversions above my desk *here* and see the entire document and also the email someone sent about it.

        5. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins*

          I work in multiple programs where I need to be able to reference information from multiple places, and it would be a ferocious pain if I only had one monitor. I keep my main program on one side, and rotate the others on the other side. I would love a third one though…

        6. Been There, Done That*

          I have so many windows open that it helps organize and find what I want without having to constantly click buttons to get at stuff. (think, you’re working w/ several different kinds of paper documents but only have desk space to put them in one stack, so you have to shuffle through all the time to get what you want.) Having a monitor primarily for the email, with the capability of also momentarily parking windows/documents on that side, might not sound like a big deal, but it’s been a huge time-saver for me and a blessed convenience.

      18. PNW*

        Yes, about five years ago I got a second monitor and it changed the way I work. I’m so much more efficient.

      19. Jess*

        Yes! Same here. Our IT manager likes me and happened to have one spare so insisted on setting it up at my desk. I was of the mindset that “I’m fine with one monitor but I suppose it would be nice to have”.

        Well, I find it SUPER useful – not quite as much as when I was in a payroll-processing role and it was necessary to have timesheets on one screen and the pay software on the other, since I’m more general admin now, but I find it extremely useful to pull an email I’m referring to onto one screen while I have a document open in the other etc.

      20. The Other Guy*

        I have five monitors. A central 27″ 1080p and two 19″ 1280×1024 in portrait mode on either side. The big one in the middle for the main work, and the other ones with an ever-changing mix of pdf’s, email, web browser, doc’s, graphs, etc for reference. Most people think I’m insane.

    1. Amadeo*

      Agreed. I’m in an office right now that doesn’t use much in the way of pens, but I still need them and if I want the ‘good kind’ I have to buy my own.

      1. DouDou Paille*

        I find it so interesting that so many people say “pens.” I rarely write longhand anymore – 95% of what I do is on a computer, including taking notes during meetings and conference calls. Every year for the past 25+ years I have been in the working world I do less and less actual pen-to-paper writing. In fact, I am so unused to having a writing implement in my hand that on the few occasions I have to sign my name on a paper document, it feels awkward in my hand and I can barely scratch out my name.

          1. Magenta Sky*

            My handwriting has always been atrocious. The only reason I can read my own printing is that I had a class in Morse code in high school, and you failed if the teacher couldn’t read your writing. (They also taught us specific movements for each letter so they’d be readable.)

            But I always have a pen in my pocket. Always.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Same–I have fine motor control issues and it gets worse and worse the more I write. I also always have a pen in my purse, because a lot of times nobody else does.

              1. Magenta Sky*

                My first thought would be to take a Morse Code class, but that’s probably not helpful. Ham radio clubs aren’t all that common any more.

                Also, this won’t make you write *well*, only legibly. My handwriting is still atrocious, but most people can read it, even if I’m in a hurry.

                One of the replies here has the graphic showing the specific motions:


                It shows all the standard tricks, like putting a line through the middle of the letter Z, so it never looks like a 2, and a diagonal line through a zero, so it never looks like the letter O. And making the number 5 with two separate lines, so it’s less likely to looks like an S.

            2. Cristina in England*

              Do you mean shorthand? Short hand looks so interesting to me. Morse code is only dots and dashes and it is meant for like sailors and I don’t know, other people who have old fashioned ways of sending basic audio/flashing light signals.

              1. Magenta Sky*

                I was in a class for a ham radio license. At the time, all ham licenses absolutely required you to copy down Morse Code at a minimum speed, 23 wpm (I think), for a general license, which is pretty quick for hand writing. And you failed the test if the examiner couldn’t read your writing. It took special dispensation to do the test with a typewriter. (My father could copy nearly 100 words per minute with a typewriter, and had a commercial license.) So legible printing was mandatory, and was included in the class.

            3. Candi*

              I was in eighth grade before we had to turn in assignments typed up. It’s been amusing, in a way. It’s gone from “your handwriting is awful” to “you can write cursive!?!”

              I still write by hand, though. Often, it’s faster or I think better when writing a story. I even downloaded the Use Your Handwriting app (colors!) to scribble stuff down rather than typing in Notepad on my phone. (There’s other handwriting apps as well.)

              And I just love me some gel pens in All The Colors.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            What makes me sad is the loss of stamina/dexterity in my hands. I still hand-write, often, but my hand tires much more quickly now that I’m 95% typing. It makes me sad to think that I was a fast and organized hand-writer who took 3-hour finals, and now I can’t write for 10+ minutes consecutively without my hand cramping.

            1. JeanB in NC*

              Same here! I can’t even write a paragraph anymore, and I love handwriting things! I don’t think it’s just typing though – I have a couple of medical issues and my hands are verging on completely useless. I dread to think what they’ll be like in 10 years or so.

          1. Llama Wrangler*

            Yes, me too! Also because I’m left handed and pen quality makes a lot of difference for whether my scribble is merely illegible or also illegible and smeared.

        1. Sans*

          I’m a copywriter. It’s funny, I learned how to write and edit in the 70s and 80s, before computers. So even though I often write on the computer, for something more lengthy or complicated, I have to do the first draft on paper. I have to be able to scribble and make notes in the margins and circle copy and draw arrows to it and cross it out. My mind just works better that way. Once that’s done, I can use the computer to clean up later drafts. But I can’t abandon paper and pen entirely.

          1. Karo*

            I learned how to write and edit in the 90s/00s, with computers at my beck and call, and I still do my first draft on paper. It just comes out better that way!

        2. Oranges*

          I actually need the pens when I brainstorm. I need to scribble to figure out how to solve a code problem in the best way and all the computer application–even with a touch screen–can’t compare to the ease of a pen and a notebook.

        3. SeuciaV*

          I do a bit of both but find that I do a LOT of note-taking and stuff for myself using Evernote. I love that it’s cloud based so it replicates across every device I own, it syncs with my calendar (so often I’ll open a new note and it will automatically say “Note from Meeting with XXXX” because IT WILL KNOW), and I can use it for text notes, photos, articles, etc. etc. It is SUCH a good tool. I don’t think I could work without it anymore!

        4. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins*

          I have attention issues, and I keep paper notes just to help me follow things like date sequences, names, etc. I could do it digitally, but it’s mostly “throw-away” information that I use once and pitch, and I don’t want to gum up my government computer with stream-of-consciousness notes.

      2. Interested Bystander*

        I have a canister of cheap trash pens on my desk, and then I have my two Pentel Energel Alloys (my favorite >$20 pen) in my desk. I won’t be heartbroken when they walk away, but I will replace them.

    2. sometimeswhy*

      I was coming here to say good pens! Our organization buys truly awful pens. They leak, they smear, they literally fall apart in your hands. I’m in charge of the budget (including office supplies) for my section and I buy nice pens and refills practically in bulk. I get any kind staff want, as long as they sell them somewhere we have an existing account and they meet our particular documentation requirements (which, helpfully, include not smearing when exposed to a range of things that the org-supplied pens smear when in contact with, including, um, air).

      1. Scott*

        I hate the good pens ironically, I will go to the dollar store and buy the 2$ pack of bic roundstic pens because the good ones just blot on me. I also have terrible handwriting.

        1. Spelliste*

          Cheap pens make my hands happy! Paper Mate stick pens (blue, medium point) and gov’t-issue SkilCraft pens are my favorites; they have just the right resistance. I leave the fancy pens to fancier hands.

          1. sometimeswhy*

            I don’t even mind Paper Mate stick pens. They are Good Pens compared to the ones provided here. And if someone wanted a bunch of them, I’d make the order, happily.

          2. Quiznakit*

            …I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone say they like the SkilCraft pens. Truly, life is a rich tapestry.

      2. Marillenbaum*

        I am such a pen diva! I have my little pencil case that holds my favorite ballpoint pens, my fountain pens, spare cartridges, and my preferred pencils (Blackwing forever!)

      3. Been There, Done That*

        Back in the day when I was a proofreader, everybody was ready to go to the wall to get Their Pen–the one that fit their hand just right, flowed the way they liked at the pressure most comfortable for them. Blessed management understood. We stocked all kinds of pens.

    3. Mike C.*

      Fountain pens here, but once you get something that works for you the difference is huge.

      Heck, even the difference between a cheap ballpoint and a rollerball is huge!

      1. a Gen X manager*

        agree! Instead of a true fountain pen, I’m using the Pilot Varsity pens – LOVE THEM. Bonus: it’s amusing when people try to borrow my pen and are confused by the tip!

        1. halfmanhalfshark*

          Hey Pilot Varsity pens are true fountain pens! My pack of Varisities write more smoothly than a couple of “real” fountain pens I have.

      2. Spider*

        Yes! Ballpoint pens are unpleasant to write with and make your handwriting worse, but an inexpensive Pilot Precise rollerpoint is a dream and then fountain pens are next-level fun. I keep a Pilot Varsity out on my desk and a Pilot Metropolitan away in a drawer to use when I take notes in meetings, plus a bunch of sample vials of various inks, and using the Metropolitan feels like a small treat to make a dull meeting a little brighter.

        Plus, at $15, it’s not objectively cheap for a pen, but if I lose it or someone walks off with it, I won’t be heartbroken.

          1. LavaLamp*

            I use the Preppy cartridge fountain pens. They’re Japanese, but available on amazon for super cheap.

            1. Mike C.*

              I’ve converted a few to eyedropper. If you want to give bottle ink a shot, all you need is a little silicone grease and a few 8mm o-rings to seal up the body from the nib/feed.

          2. halfmanhalfshark*

            My current daily driver is a Metro with a medium italic nib filled with Diamine Majestic Blue. It’s such a pleasure to write with.

        1. CW*

          Felt tips pens (Artline) for me. I don’t need to exert much pressure, they don’t seize up (ballpoints do), and they dry instantly.

          1. Birch*

            I love felt tips! The ink feels more smooth, and they help people like me who will press too hard with the cheap pens.

        2. miss_chevious*

          The Pilot Precise V5 is my go to pen, even though I have a number of fountain pens and other fancy pens. I like its durability and flow, and I like that I don’t have to spend a fortune to replace one when I lose it or write it dry.

          1. Delightful Daisy*

            I totally want a fountain pen now. As a lefty, good pens are a must for me. My left handed scissors were bought 25 years ago, for my first library job, and have traveled to every job since then with me.

            I’ve used a laptop for 18 years so I find two monitors way too cumbersome to use.

            I have a Surface for work travel and I love it. Functions as a computer but also as a paper tablet for note taking. It’s much lighter than my laptop and easily tucks into a carry-on or my purse.

          2. Blue*

            I love, love, love the Pilot Precise Grip pens! Write smoothly, work reliably, pretty colors (bonus!), and the extra fine tip means the writing’s always legible, even when tiny. In the words of my grad school advisor, “You have to have the pens that make you happy!”

          3. Callie*

            Pilot makes so many good pens. G2s are my go to pen but I have lately fallen in love with Pilot Juice for my planner. Super fine tip gell rollerball in fun colors.

      1. WellRed*

        Our office manager switched from papermate mechanical pencils to the cheaper staples brand and the erasers suck! her solution: “I have a big gummy eraser here on my desk you can borrow whenever you need it.” Rather than, pop for the slightly pricier pencils.

        1. Papyrus*

          I find most mechanical pencil erasers are too small or don’t work. I buy a pack of those Pentel high polymer white erasers for like $2, and they’re great. They last forever and they truly erase everything without tearing up the paper.

        2. TootsNYC*

          Or, rather than give you your own eraser?!?!?!??!

          I find that mechanical pencil erasers get used up quickly, so I always have a really good white eraser on my desk.

        3. Geillis D*

          I just checked and my very nice mechanical pencil is indeed Papermate. Thank goodness for bosses who realize splurging and spending $10 more on mechanical pencils save an unquantifiable amount of frustration.

        4. Marillenbaum*

          When I was doing my grad degree in Europe, I was so surprised by all the students who had pencils without erasers attached–instead, they had eraser-less pencils and a separate eraser. Now, I find it more practical because you don’t always wear out the eraser evenly with the pencil, and sometimes the attached ones suck (especially if they just smear).

          1. Candi*

            I like what I call clicky-erasers. They’re long and skinny, inside a pen/pencil sized plastic tube and a slider that pushes them down -hence the click. One of them is great with a pack of wooden pencils. (I do not like mechanical pencils ever.)

          2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            We always use extra hard pencils at work because regular pencil just rubs off the special drawing film we use. They don’t have erasers so everyone usually has a separate eraser. One day I brought in a pack of the erasers you stick on the end of your pencil. My colleagues thought I was a genius.

      2. 12866*

        Bic – and only Bic – mechanical pencils ftw! I have one in my hand almost all day long. (And two monitors – yes!)

        1. namenamename*

          Agreed on this. I got used to Bic mechanical pencils in college and they’re still what I need to get serious work done.

    4. KylieB*

      Agreed. Although, I would add that the PaperMate InkJoy Gel 0.7mm are amazeballs. The ink is smooth with no spitting, it dries quickly which can be a plus for left-handed people, and it comes it black, blue and if you’re feeling special, the entire rainbow (which I own). Also, the line is exactly the right width. It makes me happy every time I’m filling out the employer portion of the I-9.

      1. JustaTech*

        Oh, my favorite are the Uniball Signo 0.7mm for taking notes in meetings and the Uniball Power Tank 1.0mm for the lab. The tank is amazing, alcohol resistant and big and study in the hand (which is nice when you’re wearing gloves).

        1. Tired Scientist*

          Why different for meetings vs. lab? I am wondering if I am missing out on some amazing hack here.

          1. Mike C.*

            In the labs I’ve worked in, you spray all the surfaces with rubbing alcohol as a way to sterilize the work surfaces. Rubbing alcohol is also a great way to erase all sorts of pens, including standard sharpies.

            JustaTech might have a different reason though.

            1. JustaTech*

              That’s it. Also, I want to write larger on papers in the lab (so it’s easier for other people to read), but for my notes I prefer a finer point pen.

      2. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

        Inkjoy are the bomb. I started bullet-journaling, and use the various colors for that (orange for my volunteer notes, purple for my musings, doodling pictures with pretty colors, that sort of thing). Smooth, nice saturation for the color, non-smeary. Love them.

    5. Karo*

      Oh God yes, good pens. My primary responsibility is writing, and I like to hand-write my first draft – good pens make my days so much better. Personally, I like Pilot’s Precise V5 RT in .5/.7 mm.

      1. Christy*

        Agree with the pens and the second monitor. When I started my current job (with an admin for the first time!! lifesaver), she asked me about my pen preference before my first day. When I arrived, the new pens were there already. Made my day, and so nice that they asked my preference (I love sharpie thin point pens).

        The other one – calculator. I’m awful with an adding machine and I needed a calculator that had enough digits for billions. Took forever to order the right one. Again, personal preference (most of my staff love their adding machine) – and yes we use excel for most everything, but this is easier for mtgs.

        1. Adding machine*

          +1 for adding machine. I am in the finance department and – no joke – the person I replaced had no adding machine and no calculator! (No wonder I found so many errors in their work when I took over!) I ordered both right away. The other day a co-worker came in and I had the adding machine and calculator going and they were like, “Wow, must be serious work today!” heh.

          1. JeanB in NC*

            I haven’t used an adding machine or calculator in years. I either use Excel or just the little calculator on the computer. I make sure I have a keyboard with a separate 10-key, though, even at home.

            1. Adding machine*

              I use Excel in addition to the adding machine and the calculator (and I have a keyboard with a 10-key section too). The beauty of the adding machine is that you can see the number of items you’re totaling and which ones you’ve entered (instead of a formula) so it’s easy to see you put 50,000 instead of 500,000 and that’s why you’re off.

              (I also find the sound of the adding machine when you’re really on a roll very satisfying!)

        2. SarahKay*

          I have a 12-digit calculator and I love it. Plus it’s just a very basic calculator otherwise, which means all the keys are lovely and big, which makes for fast and accurate use.

      2. MissMaple*

        Yep, I was just writing to say that they buy a variety of types, but whenever there’s a box of the Precise V5 with the fine tip, I sprint to the supply closet. I press really hard when I write, so I need a narrow tip so I don’t get ink everywhere, but also one that’s strong enough not to break. I like the V7s too, but I’ve broken the tip and had blue ink explode everywhere!

      3. Ann O'Nemity*

        I accidentally stole a coworker’s Pentel Energel Needle Tip 0.5. He hunted it down, haha. I’ve been buying and using them ever since.

        1. Karo*

          Everyone who borrows my pen makes a comment about how nice it is and I have to warn them that I know exactly how many I have at a given time and I WILL get it back :)

        2. Oranges*

          I’m the only one with my pens at the office (I can’t remember the name) AND I bought all the colors since I like colors. So if a color is missing I will go find it.

      4. Spider*

        That’s my favorite rollerball, too — it writes so well for such an inexpensive pen, I’ve replaced all the ballpoints in my office with it and will never look back.

    6. Triumphant Fox*

      I love the PaperMate InkJoy Gel Pens in a variety of colors. It was more important in my last position, where we had multiple people commenting on a printed document and needed different colors to differentiate, but I still use them and love them. They’re handy when I want to do a really complex organizational problem on paper.

      I also started using a work journal last year and it has made my life so. much. better. I write everything down and in an ideal world I would index it all at the front of each journal for reference. It serves as a single source for all of my notes and an easy reference for everything in one place – to-dos, status updates, client meetings, phone calls, strategy sessions, brainstorming. It was more urgent in my last position because I was managing 6-8 clients who each had a host of small projects operating simultaneously at one time and keeping track of all of it was a nightmare until I started keeping a journal. I also had a boss who would regularly not remember things accurately (he had a lot going on and just didn’t pay attention or keep track of anything) so I needed a single source of truth at the ready whenever he would start saying “Client said they wanted X” and I would need to interject with, “Well, I had the conversation being that you suggested X and they countered with Y for reasons A, B, and C – was there a follow-up conversation I didn’t catch?” Jogging his memory with specifics usually course corrected – or made him realize he was referencing a private conversation and I wasn’t in the loop.
      When I fill up a journal, it is a pain to transition to a new one as I no longer have my notes for easy reference, but that’s the only down side.

      1. Awkwardest Turtle*

        Omg I love the InkJoy pens too and your method for note taking sounds like it would really work for me. I wonder if there is a correlation between pen preference and organizational preferences

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          Definitely possible! At first I thought I would be fancy and actually bullet journal, but my notes are so fast and furious and my days vary widely – I can’t spend time creating gorgeous custom layouts for the week. Instead, I have a few different indexes in the front – it used to be one for each client, now its one for each major category I work on in house. I also keep an index of helpful things I’ve learned and may want to reference later – process/software tips/key industry terms and definitions. These are things I at times photocopy or type up and keep elsewhere for reference. All the other notes aren’t really worth keeping digitally.

          I’ve noticed that it helps me see where projects went off the rails. Looking at a client/project index, I can see at a glance when everything happened as well as what decisions were made at each step. When my boss asks “How did we get here?!!!” I can point to the timeline and usually mention internal meetings as well (which may never had appeared on a calendar – 15 minute discussions in passing) to remind them why we made the decisions we did along the way.

      2. SpiderLadyCEO*

        I love them too – I especially love the variety of colors. It makes different editors on a paper clear, different notes in a note book – it’s so nice to have a rainbow to choose from to differentiate everything. Also, I have terrible nearsighted vision and having different colors helps.

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          It also really helped when I updated my resume. I started looking back at my journals and realized – OMG I have done so much this year! So many of the things I did in my last job were not part of my title and my responsibilities shifted a lot over the course of my time there, without an official change in title.

      3. Merula*

        I started doing a journal for work, and the method I’m basing it on suggested just what you mentioned, an index in the front.

        I rejected that out of hand. A list of what’s in a book in the front is a table of contents; an index is in the back.

        I do have an index in the back, though, with general things listed. For ongoing projects I can’t imagine it’d be too hard to have “Teapot project: 4, 17, 35, 67-70…” and fill in the requisite page numbers as you go. Vonnegut be damned.

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          The thing is, it is more of an index because the items are indexed by category. Tables of contents follow the sequential order of the contents of the book, these don’t (except typically within each category). They are like what you mention “Teapot project: 4,17…” but instead it has a description of each item, like an index and they are arranged topically.
          Teapot project
          July 7 Client Kickoff: 15
          July 8 Internal Project Strategy: 23-27


          I like having it at the front because I can see everything at a glance early on, rather than at the back, but you can certainly do either.

      4. SeuciaV*

        I never thought of it as journaling, but I do something similar and it really helps! It was something I started doing when I was a paralegal a hundred or so years ago and it helped keep me organized. I use either steno notebooks or standard size pads with the spiral binding at the top (just like it better than on the side) and when I start a new notebook I put the start date on the front. Then any time I take any kind of handwritten notes for any of the projects I’m working on, I take them there. When the notebook is full, I put the end date on the cover and put it in the file cabinet. I cannot tell you how many times that has saved my bacon! When I remember I jotted down some random person’s name or number for my boss and she doesn’t ask for it until 2 months later, as long as I have some idea of what we were talking about when it happened or how long ago, I can generally work my way back and find the right random scribble. And while I do a lot of note taking now in Evernote, there are times it’s just easier or more practical to use real paper and a pen – and I find that sometimes in “cleaning up” my notes (when I type them into a word document or use them to formulate an email or generate a report) there are details or nuances that get lost. Being able to refer back to those notes is sometimes VERY helpful.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          I totally do this but I use different coloured post-it tabs or different page flags to mark things in it.

    7. Finman*

      I’ve recently found the Pilot Frixion Erasable pen. They write cleanly and the erasing aspect is very good.

      1. artgirl*

        Don’t use them to write something important and then leave the notes in a hot car or anything like that–since the erasability is based on the heat of friction when rubbing the paper, there could be unintentional erasing! I also read an article recently recommending that, for eco-friendliness, people should use these pens only in one dedicated notebook, digitize by taking photos of all notes, and then microwave the book to return it to blank paper, ready to be reused. Not sure I’m going to jump in with both feet but it’s an interesting concept!

        1. Christmas Carol*

          You can get a special notebook for these w/QR codes on the pages and an app for your phone. Photo the pages w/your phone, and the app syncs the digitized notes w/your cloud automagicaly. One of our engineers has one, and loves it.

          The pens have also become very popular w/fabric artists. Draw you design on your material, cut, sew, embellish as desired, then run a hot steam iron over your project. Voila, no more layout lines.

        2. SpiderLadyCEO*

          The idea of losing my records is disturbing to me…I only write in pen, I hate pencil, and I like to know what I crossed out and changed. Reusing a notebook that you digitize is the antithesis of everything I stand for.
          I support people being ecofriendly, but this would not work for me at all!

      2. MidwestRoads*

        I love these pens…for my sewing room! I can mark on fabric and it erases with a hot iron. The best fabric marking pens, EVER. I don’t use them at work though, I think my boss would freak out. :)

        1. irene*

          I switched to the FriXion *markers* for sewing! The ink rinses out of regular cotton really easily, but I’m a little skeptical of the ballpoint. I also like how the felt tip takes a lighter touch to get the mark down.

          I think some Targets carry them now (so says the PilotPensUSA twitter, but not my local shops), or you can get them on JetPens. :)

      3. fretnone*

        I came here to say this! My one true love.

        I work in design and take notes on drafts during client meetings, and these are The Best for when client changes their mind 5 times – no problem, erase erase, and write clean notes over top. Such a game changer for this scenario.

        Also – leafy green plants within line of sight immeasurably brighten the workday :)

    8. Audiophile*

      I love their Precise V5/V7 RT pens. I specifically love the V7 in blue ink, but it is largely unavailable in stores.

    9. Darkitect*

      My PaperPro one finger stapler! I work for the federal government (home of broken, used office supplies) so it was a real coup to find a PaperPro hiding out in the supply cabinet. And when it was stolen off my desk, my tale of woe compelled my coworkers took up a collection and replace it for me. :)

      1. MerciMe*

        Yes! I bought a stapler with a super easy action back when I was having problems with repetitive stress injury – the difference is amazing. (I also noticed that after I left it in the printer area by accident, someone ordered several for common use.)

    10. Awkwardest Turtle*

      I very recently realized how much more fun taking notes is with good pens! I took buy my own – Papermate InkJoy gel pens (they come in fun colors which i sue at home and professional colors which i use for work).

    11. CJ Record*

      Related: if your office has whiteboards, shell out for the good dry erase markers, and more importantly, the good erasers and cleaner…

      and for the love of pete, replace the erasers regularly! They aren’t like chalkboard erasers that you can clap clean.

      1. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

        You can clean whiteboard erasers – just run them under the faucet with hand soap and air dry. You probably can’t do that forever as I imagine the glue will come undone eventually, but soap and water makes dry erase board erasers nice and fluffy again.

    12. Batshua*

      I second good pens! I can’t stand G2s, and since everyone swore by them, I thought I was some kind of freak. (Well, I am, but not because of that.) Then I discovered Uniball Jetstreams. They’re everything I wanted in a gel pen, and they come in normal and tiny sizes! I only keep a pink bodied one out at work because nobody steals the pink ones. :D

    13. June*

      The Pentel EnerGel pen (liquid gel ink in needle tip .07) is amazing! It became so popular in our agency that is the only pen our supply folks will now buy. It comes in black or blue ink.

    14. Just Peachy*

      Second this! I love that my office has a full supply of several colors of G2 pens. They are simply the best.

    15. Minnie*

      I have a pen obsession, so this was my first thought!

      I am currently admiring my new delivery of Sharpie fine point pens, which are my favorite

    16. Mary*

      I purchased myself a wireless quiet click mouse and I love it. The amount of clicking I have to do in my job and the constant clicking noise was getting on my nerves. Wish I had done this years ago, I had no idea it would be such a pleasure and make such a difference.

  1. Future Homesteader*

    As a small, cold woman: lumbar cushion, footstool, tea mug, and pashmina (currently enjoying the use of all three).

    1. BeenThere*

      As another thin cold woman I would also recommend an electric lap blanket. I think it was someone on this list that suggested it to me in the first place.

        1. zora*

          I just use the cheap “electric heating pad” sold at the drug store. And it is plenty warm but small enough to shove in my drawer.

          Sunbeam now has an electric blanket that is the size of a throw blanket. My mom has hers on the couch at home and loves it.

          1. Tara*

            I had cramps so bad one day on the way to work that I picked one up at the drugstore before getting to my desk. Now I just keep it at the office, has really saved me on crummy days.

          2. Camellia*

            I just went to QVC and ordered a heating throw with foot pocket, for home. How did I not think of this before????

        2. StellaM*

          I have a Sunbeam heated shawl that I use as a heating pad, shawl, and heated blanket. It’s very soft and gets pretty warm.

        3. Clewgarnet*

          I have a Dreamland microfleece electric throw (on the rare occasions when the cat hasn’t stolen it) and it makes life so much better.

      1. it_guy*

        I’ve used a bag of field corn warmed up in the microwave. It keeps warm for a long time. Kinda silly but it works.

          1. Valkyrie*

            yeah rice works really well! I just made a BUNCH of these as gifts for Christmas and they were a huge hit! My husband now has all my (functional, but not my best work) testers all over the house in places where he gets chilly.

    2. Language Student*

      I misread that and thought you were requesting a small, cold woman for a moment. Definitely agreed on footstool/lumbar cushion combination – if a chair doesn’t go down far enough, I feel like a little kid, and I like to sit as close to the back of the chair as I can.

      1. Bee*

        I’m super short (4’11”) and having a footstool has CHANGED my work experience. I even got one with little rollers in the middle so I can massage my feet when I wear heels. I even convinced my (equally short) supervisor to get one!

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          My footstool drives me crackers as it’s one of those adjustable ones with a wheel. I want it low and flat and that’s not possible – it can only be low in they front and high on they back, or flat but middling.

          1. Kiwi*

            I’ve got a simple solution: I use a thick sheet of solid packing foam. It gives enough that my feet don’t feel like I’m resting them on concrete, and it’s flat. Much better than a “real” footrest!

    3. Vin Packer*

      I am also a small, cold woman and it has somehow never occurred to me to get a footstool so my feet can stop dangling uncomfortably in front of my space heater. You have changed my life with this comment.

      1. Amber T*

        You know… I have a little foot stool at home under my desk. Why wouldn’t I get/request one at work??

    4. CheeryO*

      Heated mouse for me. Probably against some kind of rules, but it hasn’t set the office on fire yet.

      1. SarahKay*

        I too have a heated mouse, and I love it.
        And the site HSE manager knows I have it and hasn’t objected –
        this on a site where HSE is so strict you’re not allowed to walk while talking on a phone, or carry any uncovered drink up a flight of stairs – so you take my heated mouse from my cold, dead (but with a warm left hand) body!

      2. Admin 4 Life*

        Please tell me this is really a thing! That’s soooo cool! (couldn’t help it.)
        I hate working with cold hands the only thing I’d like more would be a heated keyboard. Just blow a little warm air out and I’d be able to keep going with my arthritis.

        1. teclatrans*

          These, too, exist. (Though, I don’t think there is any air.) Also, heated wrist pads (also called keyboard pads).

    5. JB (not in Houston)*

      I use a heated footrest, and if I don’t want to use that I use hand warmers that are supposed to be used for hands at spas but instead I use it for my feet. I also have a New Air oil filled personal heater, which seems to use less power than a regular space heater and therefore doesn’t cause any problems with flipping breakers at the office. It doesn’t put out as much heat as a regular space heater, but it also doesn’t blow hot air like the regular ones do, so I’m less inclined to get nose bleeds (and I also use a humidifier to combat dry-air-induced nose bleeds).

    6. Nolan*

      I work from home, but my radiators are all on the opposite side of the room from my work desk, so I just got a little Honeywell space heater to go under it and it’s been lovely. Do wish I’d thought of it before that cold bomb hit though

      1. Misstressfluffybutt*

        I work from home and I’m studying networking and I hate being cold. I literally created an ethernet port by the vent so my desk could be there. It’s amazing. I sit by a window and have warm air blow on me all day.

    7. Ebircs*

      I bought myself a big chunky knit throw blanket for my office. People smirk at me, but I work right next to the freight elevator and it gets COLD in the winter. My big blanket means I don’t sit and shiver at my desk.

      1. Ella Minnow Pea*

        I have the opposite problem…my office faces west and gets boiling hot in the afternoon. I have a mini Zippi fan that I got from Amazon. It has fabric blades, but they really move some air.

    8. NeverGoingToFindAHome*

      As a fellow small, cold woman (who works from home) my footstool, back pillow, and blanket (AND heating pad sometimes) are invaluable items. And of course, easy access to my tea collection and a microwave to warm my tea up when it gets cold (sacrilegious to some, I know).

      In my first internship, I would rest my feet on the computer case because it was the perfect height. Of course, I’d take my feet off anytime someone came over to talk to me, but I only realized afterwards quite *how* unprofessional it probably looked. It was only a two-month internship, so it’s not like I really could have asked for a footstool, and bringing one from home might have been weird…but certainly in my next office job, I will be bringing my necessities!

    9. tired anon*

      Yep, ditto to footstool + lumbar cushion. They have done wonders for my posture and keeping my back from getting worse.

    10. Aardvark*

      I am a lizard person and I recommend buying or making some wristwarmers/fingerless gloves. Very helpful for staying slightly warmer while typing.

      1. Birch*

        I always say I’m a lizard! Too hot when it’s hot out and too cold when it’s cold. Fingerless mitts and tea are the only reason I stay functional in the winter!

    11. Birch*

      As another small, cold woman, yes to all of this. I also have office slippers and fingerless mitts (but I work in academia so no one cares what I’m wearing) and a French press because our office coffee is typically burned to the bottom of the pot. The footstool was such a game changer! No more back and knee pain!

  2. Higher Ed Database Dork*

    My rocking footrest. I’m on the short side so I need a footrest anyway, but I like the rocking motion because I fidget a lot and I can move it around with my feet. It was like $20 and I’ve had it for a few years now.

      1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

        The one I have doesn’t have any mechanical parts – it’s just got rounded edges so if it’s on carpet, it’s pretty quiet. I can see it making noise on a hard floor or if I was really going to town on pumping it….but for the most part I never hear it. It’s Business Source Rocking Footrest, 17-3/4 by 13-7/8 by 3-Inch, Black from Amazon.

        1. Victorian Cowgirl*

          I think I need this. I’m a knee-bouncer and that creates noise so I’m always catching myself. Great tip!

    1. Serin*

      Yes, I just got one of these and I love it.

      Our cubicles are all connected, and the desk height can’t be adjusted; my chair is adjustable, of course, but if I raise it enough that my elbows are at that recommended 90-degree bend, my feet don’t touch the floor! (And I’m not that short — I’m 5’5″, which the last time I looked was average for an American woman. Which means that in most offices, most of your women and at least a few of your men probably need some foot support.)

    2. Natalie*

      Huh, I’ve never heard of a rocking foot rest. This seems relevant to my interests. Do you know the brand you have?

      1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

        Business Source Rocking Footrest, 17-3/4 by 13-7/8 by 3-Inch, Black – I found it on Amazon. I purchased it myself because I didn’t want to leave it behind at my old job. There’s tons of them out there, so you can find something that suits you if that one doesn’t work.

      2. Aphrael*

        I have a pretty basic fellowes one. I love it, but it’s easy to collapse with too much pressure on it, so you might want a sturdier one. Mine was only like $30, though – saving public resources :)

    3. INTP*

      Ooh! I think I need one of those. I’m that horrible person that doesn’t notice I’m bouncing my leg until someone gets fed up and says, “What’s causing that shaking!?”

    4. Crissy with an i*

      When I first started in my job I asked for a footrest. I ended up getting the rocking footrest as well and I don’t regret my decision! In fact, my footrest is so popular in my office that this year all my coworkers have asked for one as well.

    5. Nacho*

      I’ve got a footrest at home, but it just feels weird when I tried to use it at work. Do you wear shoes at your desk, or do you take them off?

  3. Corky's wife Bonnie*

    My boss found a heated footrest for me. I need a footrest anyway because I’m short. I am in the lobby, so there is an awful draft out here and there is also no basement in the building so the floor is freezing. We aren’t allowed to have space heaters, and this footrest was the only option. It really does help me in several ways.

      1. zora*

        Yep, I agree. I just have one of the electric heating pads I bought at the drug store. 12 bucks and only about 14″ by 20″ but it is so toasty warm but uses way less electricity than a space heater. and I can either have it on my lap or sit on top of it, and it’s pretty unobtrusive.

      2. LibKae*

        I requested one of those from Santa a few years ago, and the thing is a godsend! I have it on the back of my chair for when I’m having slightly chilly days and just want to lean against it, and for full-blown why-haven’t-they-turned-on-the-heat days I can wrap up in it — and I don’t get flagged by the space heater police!

      1. SarahKay*

        Oh, wow, I need one of these. I have lousy circulation, so I can be perfectly warm while my hands and feet freeze. A heated mouse and a cup of coffee has solved the hands; a heated floormat would be perfect!

          1. SarahKay*

            Oooohhh, that’s tempting…although, I do love my old mechanical keyboard, so perhaps not. Hmmm, decisions, decisions.

        1. Marillenbaum*

          And to keep your cup of coffee warm, there are also heated coasters that plug in via USB! I’m getting one as a Mothers’ Day gift for my mom; she is constantly forgetting her tea and finding it’s cold.

          1. SarahKay*

            I actually like cold coffee just as much as hot coffee, so that’s not such an issue. In fact in summer I’ll make myself a cold coffee by choice.
            Granted, my coffee-loving co-workers look slightly horrified at the idea but since my coffee of choice is instant coffee (black, no sugar), while they’re all making their favourite different blends in the office coffee-machine, they’re kind of used to the idea that I’m never going to be any kind of coffee aficionado.

    1. LT*

      Wasn’t there a recent post addressing someone who’s a receptionist who couldn’t keep heaters or blankets around and was baffled for solutions?

  4. bluelyon*

    A movable desk lamp. I get headaches from florescent lights and in a previous job had an office where I could shut the overheads off and just use that lamp. It was wicked tall and could be angled in many ways so when combined with my window I never needed the overheads.

        1. CheeryO*

          This is too cool. I had one of my overhead lights go out recently, and it’s amazing how much better I feel without the harsh lighting!

    1. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

      How you used wicked here makes me think you might be from the New England area. Am I right? If so…hello neighbor!!!

    2. HR Bee*

      I have a floor lamp with a moveable reading light (which is currently also pointed upwards to light the whole room.) I have high-lumen but low-wattage LED bulbs in there, so it’s much brighter than a normal one-bulb floor lamp would be, but still way easier on my eyes than the crazy bright fluorescent fixtures overhead. I never turn my overhead lights on and I’ve gotten many compliments on how cozy my office feels in comparison to the rest of the office.

      1. irene*

        Yes, me, too!

        The buzz of the fluorescent lights drives me batty so I have to leave them off in my office, but sometimes it’s too dim (especially on a rainy or otherwise dim day when my windows don’t let in much light). I got two floor lamps from a box store during back-to-school for $20 total – one has the reading lamp, the other doesn’t – and set them up in opposite corners of my office. I got to pick out the exact wattage and hue of LED bulbs (warm, 40w) and it’s bright enough for me without being exhausting (bright lights wear me out), and my visitors can still see when they’re facing the windows. And all the time, folks comment how cozy it is. :)

        Several of my coworkers have brought in their own lamps since I set mine up – they used to sit in the dark or only had one of their overheads on. We’re starting a little trend!

        At my old department, I never turned on overheads if i could help it. But it was an old 1930s building with huge windows. I hated when I got a promotion into the cubicles floor – nice, thick cubicle walls, and fairly tall, so they felt private, very nice – but I had to live with the overhead lights, and the one directly over me broke for a while, it was lovely. I got the worst headaches when it was fixed! I kept threatening to bring in an awning, but never got around to finding one before I got my own dim office again. ;)

  5. Murphy*

    I think I said this in the open thread, but a footrest! I didn’t actually ask for one until I was pregnant, but it’s really helpful even now that I’m not anymore.

    1. NW Mossy*

      I have a Zojirushi insulated coffee mug that is LIFE. It keeps my early morning coffee pleasantly warm well into the afternoon, which is wonderful for when I forget it at my desk when I go to a meeting. Best $30 I ever spent, and better for the environment than to-go cups too.

        1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

          Thanks for the suggestions – I’ve been looking for one for a while now, and the best I’ve found is just a regular ceramic one with a lid, and it’s just okay. I’ll check those out.

          1. Melissa C.*

            Hydroflask also makes an insulated coffee tumbler. It kept my tea hot for the 2 hour drive up to the ski hill (Denver>Breckenridge) and when I got back to the car after 7 hours of skiing it was still warm!

          2. stej*

            Contigo Vacuum Insulated Tumblers are exceptional for keeping heat in. Just let it cool off so you don’t burn yourself and then slip on the lid when it’s the perfect temp.

            1. Mine Own Telemachus*

              YES, seconding Contigo. It’s reasonably priced (~$20 at Target, iirc). I got one with a locking lid, because I’m a klutz, and it’s super convenient and does a great job of keeping my coffee warm!

              1. Meera*

                Thermos brand insulated mug – steel king! a) it’s giant; and b) it will keep your tea hot for 7 – 10 hrs. If I don’t finish my tea on the drive in to work; it’s still hot enough to drink on the way home.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I got an Adagio ToasTea that lets me brew my loose leaf tea right in the cup. I made my tea almost four hours ago and it’s still hot.

        1. Not that Anne, the other Anne*

          I believe Adagio is getting more of my money today. Thanks for the recommendation!

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            You’re welcome! I hope you like it :)

            One tip – the mesh isn’t really fine enough to handle rooibos.

      2. Secretary*

        YAAAASSS I have one that’s from target “contigo”. LOVE LOVE LOVE it during the winter when my office becomes a freezer.

    2. Cordelia Vorkosigan*

      I’ve created a mini-tea station at my desk. I keep a Britta water pitcher, an Adagio VarieTEA Kettle, a mug, and various kinds of tea along with sugar packets, etc in an Ikea Raskog cart. It’s deeply awesome. (Links in the next post.)

        1. Desdemona*

          How quiet is the Adagio kettle? I’ve been wanting to get an electric kettle for my desk but I work in an open office and don’t want one that’s really distracting.

          1. Cordelia Vorkosigan*

            The water does make noise when it boils, but the kettle itself doesn’t whistle or anything like that. I’ve seen noisier electric kettles, but I wouldn’t call it quiet.

      1. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

        Oh my – I love tea and I adore this idea! I’m in a cubicle set up right now so don’t have the space for a full cart, but I absolutely will be copying this idea as soon as I’m in a different space/setup

      2. irene*

        I did the same! I don’t have a kettle yet (our water dispenser makes gloriously hot water, so I’m looking for a good keep-warm teapot instead), and I have loads of cabinets/storage space going unused, so I basically created a tea cabinet instead of a cart.

        I had a set of mugs, so I can be lazy and bring them home to the dishwasher on weekends, several spoons, a measuring spoon set, sugar cubes, multiple types of tea and filters and meshes, and saucers and so on. I’ve also added some inexpensive Dragon flatware from Ikea for lunchtime and got a nice salad/soup bowl that I keep my seasonal fruit in for snacking or offering to visitors. I recently got tired of the crap brown paper “towel” rolls offered in the kitchen and bathrooms and brought in a set of dishtowels to help pick up spills or dry my teamugs if I’ve decided to give them a wash mid-week.

        I love having a little pantry in my office, even centered around tea as it is. Everything’s kept closed up and safe from bugs, and it gives me more options at lunchtime (I also keep some shelf-stable foods that I can heat up when my regular lunch just doesn’t do it – chicken noodle soup, easy mac, etc.) Or when we have surprise 10-hour days to get those last minute report changes done!

    3. Adlib*

      Contigo mugs are amazing for this reason! I get them as gifts for almost everyone in my life. (They even have a push-button seal which I like.)

        1. Secretary*

          Yep love mine. I just leave it open for 10 minutes in the morning then it’s perfect drinkable temperature for the rest of the day.

          1. Julia*

            The Tiger thermos I got in Japan keeps beverages extremely hot for hours – as in, leave it open for an hour before putting it in your bag and still burn your mouth when you try to drink.

    4. MCL*

      I have a Nissan Thermos brand backpack thermos. I’ve had it for years and years, and it keeps things hot (or cold) all day long. I have accidentally forgotten it at home all day before and the coffee is still reasonably hot. The lid locks, it fits great into my purse, so I make coffee at home and bring it into work. It’s only leaked once, when I over-filled it. The only thing it needs is an overnight soak in Oxy-clean every so often to remove the coffee stain build-up. I bought one for my spouse, and he likes it but he often boils water for tea and it’s way too hot to drink for a long while. I guess my coffee maker just doesn’t get that hot. So, if you’re doing something extra hot, you may want to build in a few minutes’ time of it sitting open to cool off.

      1. Marty*

        Thermos also makes vacuum mugs. They keep drinks hot for longer than any other insulated mug I have ever tried, and, when closed, if you don’t over fill them, you can turn them upside down and they won’t leak. Love those things.

    5. Teapot Tester*

      I have a mug warmer and it’s awesome. Keeps the coffee hot for as long as it takes me to drink it, which in the afternoon can be a while.

    6. Lefty*

      I’ll go the opposite route- I was just given a mug by a company called SIC (Seriously Ice Cold). I’m a notorious iced coffee drinker and it really does keep everything very cold through my 2 hour commute and into the work day! My husband recently grabbed it and said it kept his coffee hot for at least 5 hours (he’d finished it then).

    7. Robin*

      If you do administrative work, get a machine that trifolds paper. It makes putting things in envelopes so much easier.

  6. LiterallyPapyrus*

    A backless saddle seat to ease back pain from too much sitting and an ultra-wide monitor, which replaced my two-screen set up.

    1. Kati*

      Ooh, I want to hear more about this. I have a standing/sitting desk, but really wish my sitting environment was better…

      1. LiterallyPapyrus*

        I bought this one: https://www.amazon.com/Master-Massage-Hydraulic-NanoSkin-Upholstery/dp/B00HVHACIA/ref=sr_1_4_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1516292610&sr=8-4&keywords=saddle+seat (though it was half that price when I did!!!) and it’s been a game changer. It forces you to sit in a more natural alignment and keep your posture upright instead of slouched.

        It is a pretty wide seat, though, so if your hips are super tight or if you have a very small frame I imagine this wouldn’t be very comfortable. Also difficult to sit in with some skirts but HEY MODESTY PANELS!

        My next step will be to get a standing desk kit but they’re all so bulky!

        1. Gretchen*

          Have you checked out Varidesk? It works really well for me without needing a whole new furniture purchase. It’s nice because when I stand I raise my whole (cluttered) desktop.

          1. LiterallyPapyrus*

            I have! The bulk of them turns me off a bit because I tend to keep a very minimal work space but I haven’t found a much cleaner solution that isn’t an entire desk.

            1. Pasticcio*

              I use a simple IKEA worktop on adjustable-height legs, set permanetly to my standing height – because while it can be adjusted, you have to clear the desk first to do it safely.

              Then spent most of my budget on a nice architects/draughtsman’s chair with a good footstool attachment (it’s like a swivel desk chair, but it goes up to barstool height. There’s a bit of a trick to getting into the chair, since it’s on wheels and up high, so it might not be a good arrangement for people who have problems like balance issues, but now that I’ve got a higher chair, it just seems so logical.

              I like it a lot, especially because my chair puts me at a more conversational height when people stop by my desk, even when I’m sitting. Other people like not having to bend down to talk to me or reach stuff on my desk as well, so I feel like it’s good for the posture of the whole office, not just me.

            2. Zahra*

              If you keep very little stuff on your desk, you can get away with a cheaper one.

              Corollary: when buying a standing desk, always check how much weight it can lift.

        2. Ruthy Sue*

          I have a Ergotron Work-Fit sit-stand attachment for my desk, which is great! It just clamps on, and holds the keyboard, mouse, a work platform for papers, and monitors. Doesn’t take up the rest of the desk space and can adjust the keyboard tray to below the desk surface (which is where is should be, unlike the varidesk). Almost everyone in my office has them and are beloved. Huge improvement to my day!

        3. Clewgarnet*

          Ooh, I’d be able to do my riding exercises while at work! Practice rising to the trot without stirrups! This may be a game changer in many ways!

      2. MustNotBeNamed*

        I use the Back Joy and it has helped my back pain so much! And it’s fairly portable, so I take it to work, school, and my internship really easily.

      3. Mabel*

        I use a yoga ball on a rolling stand-type thing, and I love it. The yoga ball by itself is better for my back because it forces me to use my core muscles to balance , but it’s too short without the stand (I’m 5’7″). I got both from Amazon.

  7. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    Fancy coffee machine! I realize this isn’t something people themselves can (probably) go out and purchase. But the ability to walk in and a get a latte, cappuccino, mocha, chocolate latte, vanilla cappuccino, etc FOR FREE is amazing.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Yeah, it’s a small thing, but our fancy coffee machines are great — they make regular coffee, tea, cappuccinos, lattes, mochas, hot chocolate, chai/tea lattes. That plus the ice/water machine keep me going.

    2. essEss*

      That is a great perk at my office too. We have a fancy coffee machine, plus a permanent hot water spout for making tea. Plus a fridge full of free cans of soda and sparkling water. They recently began making jugs of ice water filled with lemons and cucumbers (one with lemon slices and the other with cucumber slices).

      I found myself drinking way too much soda pop though. I had a previous job that had a juice machine so we could get apple and orange juice all day.

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      Mine isn’t fancy but having my own coffee maker and mini-fridge has been life-changing for me. As a teacher, my time is limited and being able to have time to get coffee whenever I want is huge. And having my food available in my classroom instead of the other side of the school is a lifesaver during my 28 minute “duty-free” lunch. I’m currently shopping craigslist for a cheap micro and my private kitchen will be complete.

    4. Amber T*

      We have one of those kick ass Keurigs that connect directly to the pipes (actually two – one in the fancy board room and one in our regular kitchen). I regularly comment how spoiled we are as an office since we have 500 flavors of coffee, soda, juice, water, seltzer… but now I want a fancy coffee maker…

    5. B*

      Yes, this! While it may be a small thing it is a HUGE perk that I have found very enjoyable at an older office.

      As well, a hot and cold water machine where you do not have to change the bottle because it is tied directly to the water supply line. Being able to order pens and supplies I like. As well, as a decent size fridge, microwave, cutlery, plates, cups.

    6. Clewgarnet*

      Ooh, that sounds lovely! We have actual baristas armed with an espresso machine, but it costs a fortune.

  8. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    GOOD stationery. Pens that aren’t leaky and blobby. Notebooks with paper that’s not so thin the ink goes through. Files that the rings don’t break on. Labels that actually stick and a stapler that can staple more than one thin sheet, etc.

    And a Plantronics headset with microphone.

    1. Gen*

      Really good gel pens can do wonders for painful hands because they require so much less pressure to get consistent legible handwriting. This is doubly true if they have a soft grip (I use Uniball Signo)

    2. o.b.*

      My bosses actually BOUGHT me a plantronics headset, which I thought was fantastic until it came …. and it was too big for my tiny head :(

    1. DarcyPennell*

      Me too, this has been the #1 improvement in my work life. I bought them for my own birthday a couple years ago and I think it’s the best present I’ve ever had.

    2. Midge*

      YES! I work in an open plan office and I literally couldn’t do my job in this space if I wasn’t able to block out most of the noise. I have a pair of Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones. They’re wired, but it doesn’t get in the way too much.

      Rechargeable batteries are also a must with the headphones. Since I have the headphones turned on probably 20-30 hours a week, I would be going through a lot of regular batteries if I didn’t have them.

    3. MLiz*

      Can you guys recommend some? I’m in the market for a pair, but between all the different tests I never know what to get and it would be great to get some recommendations from office workers!

      1. Eric*

        Bose QC35s if they are in your budget ($350 or so). I can wear them for an entire day and they don’t hurt my head.

      2. Reba*

        If you have an outlet mall in your area, see if they have a Bose store; they also sell the refurb’s online I believe, for under 200 bucks. I also have the 25’s and love them.

      3. Perspicuosity*

        The Bose Quietcomfort 35 are great (and expensive). Rechargeable and cable-free. My former employer bought them for whoever wanted when they moved to a completely open office plan.

      4. IfYouDon'tHave200Bucks*

        I got these on recommendation from a coworker with a reputation for being very… thorough (as in, makes spreadsheets comparing features and price for stuff like this) and I’ve been very happy when them. I recently got moved into a shared office space with a very popular person, and so far these have been great at blocking out conversations happening three feet behind me as long as some kind of sound is playing through them. And the red ones are SUPER stylish, if I do say so myself. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XHBV8H2/ref=cm_sw_r_em_apa_QYliAbR6YX3CF

      5. The Chatty One*

        I use Sennheiser HD380s and I love them. They’re currently $150 on Amazon. They’re wired and don’t have active noise canceling, but they are extremely comfortable and can easily be worn all day. Mine have seen near daily use for two and a half years and are still in great condition.

        1. The Chatty One*

          Forgot to add: despite having no active noise canceling, the HD 380 is an around the ear design and blocks ambient noise quite well. Depending on how loud your office gets and what kind of music you listen to, they may do the job just fine without active noise canceling.

        2. Annie Moose*

          I have the Sennheiser HD 598 Cs, also $150 on Amazon right now. They’re amazing! Despite not actively having noise cancellation, they’re closed back–I can’t hear a thing when I have them on, and the sound quality is lovely without leaking. I’ve had several headsets over the years (some for gaming, some for music) and these are by far the most comfortable I’ve ever worn. Very soft, with a nice-feeling cover on the earpieces, and adjustable to my smallish head.

          The only complaint I have about them is there’s no volume control on the headphones themselves… but my keyboard has a volume control, so it’s not a big deal to me.

      6. a Gen X manager*

        I wanted the Bose, but couldn’t justify the price, so I opted for these Brand New from ebay for $100: Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9 QuietPoint Noise-Cancelling Headphones

        They are surprisingly great – both listening to music / audio and just on in noise-cancel mode for nearly absolute silence.

        1. Hodie-hi*

          I love my over-the-ear Audio Technica noise canceling headphones.
          They are less expensive than Bose and work very well, even while wearing eyeglasses. They are comfortable enough to wear for hours every day. Required equipment for open office where people don’t use their inside voices. They are wired, which is only a minor nuisance. Next set will be wireless.

          1. Open_office_sufferer*

            Loving these recommendations, will save me a bunch of time in research. I bought noise-isolating headphones, which are just ok in blocking out all the ppl in our huge open office floor. Ok isn’t good enough. In the market for noise canceling ones now.

    4. Anon Accountant*

      Amazing suggestion. This is great and will keep the sound of my 3 coworkers laughing loudly and disrupting everyone else from bugging me. Very frustrating when you’re picking up their slack and they’re having a nonstop party.

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        Sounds awful! I have been next to a loudly-laughing team before, I can only imagine how much more annoying it would’ve been if I’d been picking up their slack. I highly recommend a white noise website, rainymood.com, or something similarly neutral behind a playlist or podcast or whatever you’d like to listen to. It helps make the sound more “dense,” so it’s really effective at blocking out ambient sounds (and dulling high-frequency ones) without having to crank up the volume. With the noise-blocking headphones it’s sometimes almost TOO effective – I once had a coworker standing at the entrance to my cubicle knocking on the metal filing cabinets for I still don’t even know how long while I was blissfully unaware. He didn’t bother to tap my shoulder because he wanted to see how long I’d be oblivious. It was hilarious.

        1. Midge*

          Thanks for the tip on rainymood.com. I’m listening to a thunder storm right now, and it’s very relaxing!

        2. Anon Accountant*

          Thanks I’m going to try white noise or headphones with music. It gets very annoying, especially now since it’s W-2 prep time.

          Our 1 boss actually told them last week about how loud they were and they pouted. The next day when she wasn’t there it started right back again. Ugh

          1. Windchime*

            I love my Bose noise-canceling headphones. They are an older model; about 6 or 7 years old and they have a cord. I put them on with a white-noise app playing in the background and I am blissfully unaware of the two guys who talk constantly about Bitcoin all day long in the cube next to me.

      2. Julia*

        I knew for sure that I needed to quit my awful former job when I asked my boss for a headset (we were updating the telephone system anyway) because the co-worker I shared an office with was really loud on the phone, kept the TV on non-muted during the day, and huffed and puffed when she was annoyed. I had to press the receiver of the phone to one ear and stuff a finger of my other hand into my other hear when I needed to make a call (often in a different language, which made things even worse) and couldn’t take notes while on the phone without doing distortions with my head.

        He said: “You don’t need that.” When I quit a few months later, he was SO surprised.

    5. NeverGoingToFindAHome*

      My Bose wireless, bluetooth, noise cancelling headphones have been a life-saver on soooo many occasions. Chatty coworkers, construction noise, even just the ambient noise of fluorescent lights and air conditioning bother me after a while. Most people don’t seem to mind the wires, but just like the earlier discussion about two monitors (and that you don’t know you need it until you’ve had it), I feel like you don’t know you need wireless headphones until you do. It’s saved me from ripping the headphones out of the headphone jack (or off my head) so many times, and won’t get tangled up in my desk chair’s arms.

    6. Lygeia*

      First, GREAT username :)

      I wish I had noise cancelling headphones! Everyone in my office is always on the phone talking so sometimes it’s really hard to concentrate.

  9. Amadeo*

    Some kettle or receptacle for hot water for drinking. I have an electric kettle on my desk, the thing is noisy beyond belief while heating up, but on the days when I want tea in the afternoon it’s invaluable.

    1. Rachel Green*

      I used to have an electric kettle at my desk and the noise was too much, so I hardly ever used it. Now, I use the Keurig in the kitchen for hot water to make tea.

    2. Amber T*

      There’s an electric kettle in the back that the three or four dedicated tea drinkers share… I wonder if the office purchased that for them or if it’s an individual’s and they share it.

    3. CarolynM*

      My electric kettle makes me very popular! We have a lot of visiting employees from a country where tea is much more popular than coffee – they do a good job of hiding their horror when told they can get tea water by brewing the Keurig without a cup in it^, heating water in the microwave^^ or using the hot water button on the water cooler^^^, but the relief when I come up afterwards and tell them to find me when they want tea because I have an electric kettle at my desk is REAL! :)

      ^ If I wanted my tea to taste like coffee, I would just have coffee!
      ^^ Tastes funny – I have proven in blind taste tests that without fail, I can pick out microwaved vs. boiled!
      ^^^ Not hot enough!!!!! Brews a cup of dissatisfaction instead of a cup of tea!

      1. AMPG*

        RE: Keurigs for tea – I once made the mistake of trying an actual tea Keurig pod (when my old office switched over, we got a bunch of sample packs for a while and then ordered what seemed to be most popular). It tasted like warmed-over sadness.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          This post is making me want to have a discussion about tea in this weekend’s open thread.

            1. misskleio*

              I’ve only recently begun drinking tea and will be Very Happy to Learn from Those With More Opinions!

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          “It provided him with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.“ Douglas Adams

          1. another Liz*

            So let me get this straight. You want the taste of dead leaves, steeped in boiling water?

            Yes, please.


      2. Not that Anne, the other Anne*

        My desk supply of tea makes me equally popular. The teabags in the break room are made of sadness, so I always warn those from tea-centric countries that they can come find me and I will provide them with the good stuff.

        In turn, I am often given gifts of tea from said countries. Everybody wins.

        1. Marillenbaum*

          I love this! I was working in a tea-drinking country this summer, and the communal kitchen had the saddest teabags; the tea would turn gray as it cooled (!); I, however, had a box of PG Tipps and a sleeve of digestive biscuits in my desk drawer, which made me very popular with the local staff and any stray children who happened to find my cubicle.

    4. zora*

      Our office has a really fancy water filter that has cold and hot water, and the hot is the perfect temp for tea. It’s great.

      1. NJ Anon*

        Looks like a bike, just the pedal part. Fits under your desk so you can get some cardio in while you work!

      2. lizwid*

        I love my under the desk peddler. Can adjust the tension, use it just as a footrest… I usually get half an hour or more of exercise on it in a typically workday. And it’s quiet, no one else knows I’m using it.

      3. Meh*

        They vary in name, but I have a DeskCycle (http://a.co/eWu0ZtH ) and I love it. It’s a nice way to get some exercise at the desk. There are cheaper models out there, but I think this one is the best.

        1. JustaTech*

          How do you use it with a wheeled desk chair? I tried that with my desk peddler at home and the chair pretty much shot out from under me and I had to make do with a dining chair. If I could make the peddler work with a wheeled chair I could use it all day!

          1. fposte*

            I could actually get behind a setup where the pedaler was on wheels or ball-bearings and you just pedal around the office in a rolling chair all day. Kind of like working on a recumbent bike.

          2. Amber T*

            I’m sorry but that sounds hilarious.

            Reminds me of a time I was doing a sneaky fitness challenge with a friend. Nothing crazy… we’d text each other stuff like “get up and do 10 squats now” or “do a lap around your building” and if we could, we would. She texted me to do tricep dips, so I set myself in my (wheeled) office chair, and as I dipped, the chair wheeled itself backwards, and I landed on my ass. Thankfully, I have a closed door, so bruised ego (and tailbone) remained a secret.

          3. Meh*

            It’s how you pedal. If you pedal more down as opposed to forward, you won’t be pushed back. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you get it, it becomes second nature. . The cycles also usually come with a strap to put on your chair as well so that you’re not pushed back, but if you pedal correctly, you don’t need it. I use it with my wheeled chair all the time.

          1. Meh*

            Nope. The model I listed is dead quiet. I’ve used it in an open office with cubes and the folks sitting next to me didn’t even notice I was pedaling unless they looked over. Many were impressed by it.

    1. Purplesaurus*

      Be careful with the peddle action. I had to re-position my ethernet cable because my desk elliptical kept pulling it out.

    2. Ebircs*

      Haha, totally different reaction to what I thought your pedal was! I worked in closed captioning for a few years and we all had pedals on the floor – but they were like sewing machine pedals. They paused, rewound and played the videos we were captioning.

      1. Teacher*

        That’s what I thought too. I have done medical transcription in the past, so that was the first thing I thought of.

  10. S*

    I work from home, and these are the things that help: non-shared office with door. Control over window covering (seriously, this was a big issue when I shared an office). HUGE monitor.

    1. boo*

      Non-shared office! I just moved from a situation where I worked in a corner of my bedroom in a shared apartment, to one where I live alone and have an actual office (OK I live in NY, so actually I partitioned the living room in half with screens, but still.) The psychological difference of having somewhere that is just for work and all for work is amazing. Alas, that’s a much bigger discretionary expense than a new set of pens…

      Though actually, I would say if you work from home and can possibly partition off your office, even if it’s just a tiny corner of another room, it’s still really helpful to have a dedicated space.

      1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

        Yep. I work from home most days and I have made a corner of my dining room into my office. I have a pull out desk (old built-ins from the 1920s). I love that when I’m done with work I can close up the desk and not see my office. I even found a second monitor that fits inside!

      2. Nolan*

        Yeah, when I first started wfh I had to work in a corner of my shared bedroom in Queens, and I started work like an hour before my partner had to get up for his job! Not ideal.

        Once we moved north and had a second bedroom it was much better. My office also contains the “family computer” and some other non-work stuff, but it’s primarily my space and I don’t have to worry about interrupting anybody else to use it

        1. Wendy Darling*

          I work from home and my desk is in our living room. This made perfect sense when we moved here because Mr. Darling is way more bothered by noise than I am, so his desk is in the guest room. I actually like where my desk is mostly — it’s in a very pleasantly sunny corner of the house, and when I’m not working I can do things at my desk but still be near whatever Mr. Darling is doing.

          Now the downside is any time he has the day off and I don’t I’m like “please get out.” Somehow having him not-working behind me makes it absolutely painful to be sat here working.

    2. Wendy Darling*

      My dream is to move to a place with a third bedroom. Right now I work from home and my desk is in (the best corner of) the living room, which is really a mixed bag. The other rooms are our shared bedroom, where my piano also lives scrunched in a corner because there is nowhere else for it, and the guest room, which has Mr. Darling’s desk in it. The guest room is quite cramped and the desk in there becomes completely inaccessible when the the guest bed sofa is folded out, so it doesn’t even really make sense for me to move my kit in there. Working if we had guests would be intolerable.

      I want a third bedroom so I have an office and space for my piano. It doesn’t even need to be big! The piano is digital, it is very small!

    3. LJL*

      Second the door. I work from home and it’s absolutely essential to be able to shut the door to keep critters and hubby out. It also serves as a reminder that when the door is shut, I’m likely client facing and not to be disturbed.

  11. Cold person*

    A heated throw blanket! I walk to work most days and it helps me warm up so much more quickly than anything else!

        1. Lauren R*

          I believe you can find them at Walmart or Target? Heated blankets are so nice and feel like heaven on chilly mornings. I used to have one that was big enough for my bed, and it was great for winter since I’m super cold-natured but also hate the weight of multiple blankets. I’ve definitely thought about getting another one but the big ones I’ve seen are a little pricey, so I may look into getting one of the throws!

          1. zora*

            Sunbeam is a brand that makes them. I’ve seen them a lot recently at the drugstores, but they are also on Amazon.

            1. Lujessmin*

              While everyone else huddles with their heated blankets, I had my little USB desk fan going all the time. In my old office, the heat was turned up because everyone was cold (but me!) I would create a red neck air conditioner by putting a frozen bottle of water in front of my little fan

    1. Anonicat*

      I am the reverse, a hot person in a hot country. A hand fan (as in, the old fashioned ones you fold out and flap yourself with) makes a big difference when I arrive at work already feeling sweaty and blah.

      Bonus points, it’s a beautiful one painted with birds and bamboo that was a gift from a Chinese colleague.

  12. Emily S.*

    I love my flat-stack stapler from Staples. It’s very easy to use (called one-touch), and it was about $10. It impresses everyone who tries it out!

    1. Midge*

      My coworkers at Old Job liked my one-touch stapler so much that it became the office stapler and they eventually broke it. :( I bought myself a new one that stayed in my desk drawer after that.

      It may seem like a small thing to have a slightly fancy stapler, but it makes me so happy every time I use it.

      1. As Close As Breakfast*

        Never underestimate the power of a stapler. Buildings have been burned down in their names.

        1. Goya de la Mancha*

          Well now you’re just jumping to conclusions. You should probably get a mat for that.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      My mom started a job recently where she is assembling a lot of document packets and she had me order her an electric stapler from Amazon. Made her life so much easier!

    3. a Gen X manager*

      agree!! We replaced all of our staplers with these, but we recently ordered an additional one and the quality isn’t what it was just two years ago.

    4. inkstainedpages*

      Yes! My husband got me the One Touch stapler from Staples for my birthday a few years ago and I love love love it!

    5. Rebecca in Dallas*

      I have a Paper Pro one-finger stapler and I love it! My boss at an old job had one, I was constantly coming into her office to borrow it for large stacks of paper (it can staple up to 25) so she finally got me one as a Christmas gift! And now everyone wants to borrow it here at my new job, so I made sure to label it so it doesn’t disappear.

  13. SNS*

    Standing desks and second monitors for sure. I also have a mouse pad with a wrist rest that I love, that our HR rep (jokingly) scolded me for buying with my own money instead of just asking her to order it

    1. Media Buyer*

      Seconding this. As someone who deals a lot with multiple excels, etc. having a second monitor is such a life saver.

      I also got a standing desk about six months ago and having the option to alternate between standing and sitting has really helped my back as I’m no longer sitting for 7 straight hours.

      1. StudentPilot*

        My unit just got standing/sitting desk not too long ago and they have made a huge difference. My concentration has gotten so much better now that I can stand and pace around my office while on conference calls.

        1. Lillian Gilbreth*

          Depending on what you’re doing with Excel, I’ve actually learned a way to do this.

          If you open document #1 the way you normally would, and then open Excel again from the start menu and open document #2 from the file>open drop down, you can have the two documents open side by side (repeat step 2 as necessary for more files.) HOWEVER, this opens two separate “universes” of excel so the files won’t talk to each other. If you’re just comparing number or looking at one for reference it’s fine, but you can’t link doc #1 to doc #2 which is annoying.

          1. Amber T*

            I’m so thrilled that excel has this trick, but I’m so mad that excel makes you use this trick to do it. It’s super obnoxious. Adobe Reader also automatically opens in the same window as an already open pdf, though you can drag it out and place it in its own window now. Ugh.

            1. SarahKay*

              If you move to Excel 2016 it will open everything in a separate window, and they will talk to each other…but, depending on how you work, this is not entirely a benefit. And it doesn’t seem to be optional.
              I’m on a Microsoft Comment thread of people asking to please let them have back the option for all documents in a single ‘Universe’. I gather that it can cause real issues when running macros that work over a number of documents, amongst other problems.

              1. Amber T*

                My dad is a database developer by trade , and my guess is if your macros are getting screwy because your excels aren’t in the same “universe” anymore, he’d tell you your using excel wrong. This is coming from someone who barely understands pivot tables and really only needs to know how to sum up columns, so I am in now way an expert (other than purposely ticking off my dad by asking him “can’t you do that in excel?” anytime he’s explaining a work problem cuz I’m mean like that).

                BRB… asking IT if we can update to 2016…

                1. SarahKay*

                  Truthfully, I’m not clear on exactly what the issue is with the macros either, since I don’t use them much; it’s just what I’ve picked up from reading other people’s comments. The consensus seems to be that serious users are getting clobbered by it – and that if you need many worksheets open at once then you’re also eating significantly more processing power.
                  So far the only reason I’d like the option to have them all in the same ‘universe’ is because if I want to move everything from one screen to the other it’s easier if they’re all attached so it’s one move instead of five or six. That’s a minor complaint though; mostly I find it easier now.

                2. SarahKay*

                  Oh, while I remember, there are two other common irritations with Office 2016:
                  1) No more ‘Auto-Preview only for unread messages’ – Auto-preview is on, or off, but you can’t enable it just for unread messages. Also true for Office 2013; I jumped from 2007 to 2013 so can’t comment on 2010.
                  2)Huge icons for attachments in emails in Outlook 2016 eating your screen space. If you want a feel for the new size, look at your icons in a Windows Explorer folder. They’ve always been set at the ‘Small’ icon size, now they’re at the ‘Medium’.

              2. iseeshiny*

                Ohhhh see I’m on 2010 at my work. We only recently upgraded to Windows 7 from XP so it’s anyone’s guess when I’ll get Excel 2016 but I look forward to it – I only use macros for small things so this will be a lot better for me. I’ve only ever used macros that work on one worksheet, never mind on different workbooks.

          2. taco*

            And here I thought I was doing something wrong when that was the only way for me to get two separate Excel windows. It’s not like one would ever have to compare different spreadsheets side by side….

            Microsoft, why do you do these things to us?

        2. Tara*

          You mean like looking at the tabs in the same Excel doc in different windows? In my 2016 Excel, you can go to View > New Window. It’ll open a new window, but it’s the same document, and both windows are live (like if you update a formula from one tab, it’ll update anything you have linked in the other tab).

          1. Natalie*

            There’s a slightly older version of Excel where they very stupidly took this feature away. I remember it being intensely aggravating when I was using that version at work.

    2. Future Homesteader*

      Oh I recently got a gel wrist rest for in front of my keyboard and while my wrists are indifferent, my elbows LOVE it (no more sore elbows/tingly arms from leaning on the hard desk).

    3. StandingDesk FTW*

      I love my standing desk! It has a handle for quick up/down (instead of a crank or a button).

      – It’s especially great when someone stops by my cube to talk about something. Instead of them leaning into my personal space, BAM! Up goes the desk and we can stand there together to discuss.
      – It’s also great cause if I sit in one position for too long, I feel like a lump.

      Saved my sanity and my urge to fidget.

    4. Hapless Bureaucrat*

      Seconding. My desk is adjustable height, so the whole surface raises to stand and lowers. First time in this short woman’s life that I haven’t needed a footrest. And it’s alleviated a lot of lower back pain.

      As for mice, at my old work I had this roller bar mouse that sat under my keyboard that I loved so much. At this office I have a joystick mouse that I love equally.

      I also second the headsets and nose cancelling headphones upthread. Also, when I worked in a cube with my back to the entrance I used to hang a mirror that would reflect the entrance so that I could see when someone was coming up to see me. People in that office liked to hover, and it made it so much easier for me to relax into work, knowing I’d see them. Also, if I was wearing headphones they could just wave to get my attention in the mirror.

      1. hermit crab*

        We have fully adjustable desks now too, and they’re amazing. The brand is called (checks side of desk) Workrite. It’s motorized and the whole L-shaped workspace goes up and down to whatever height you choose! You can even save your preferred “stand” and “sit” settings so you just have to hit a button and it goes to the right height.

    5. Mbarr*

      I also vote for a standing desk. Sitting for too long causes my lower back to start cramping up, so having the option to alternate between sitting and standing has really helped.

  14. Gen*

    You can get sets of sticky labels/flags from Japan in lots of different designs which are super handy for marking up documents. I personally use cute pastel cat labels because they make me laugh and they never leave my office, but there are less twee designs available. Sometimes it’s just nice to give your eyes a rest from black and white!

    1. Blue Anne*

      There’s something to be said for the cutesy office supplies! When I was the admin/bookkeeper for a small tech company, my stapler would always crap out or go walkabout. I bought a really high quality one in hot pink. No more problems with it jamming up or disappearing from my desk, my entirely male colleagues always returned it.

      1. Karo*

        We have company-supplied staplers so I can’t justify buying it, but Target has iridescent ones that I’m coveting hard.

        1. Elemeno P.*

          If it brings you joy, I’d get it. I bought a novelty otter tap dispenser for myself and that $15 has been very fun every time I’ve needed tape over the past year and a half. Plus, it comes with me if I leave!

      2. Ejane*

        I’m a big fan of cutesy office supplies too! I’ve always worked in very image-conscious environments, so I get my cute in little ways, and one of those is a set of pencils printed with vintage dog themes. I’m obsessed, and they write beautifully.

      3. Christmas Carol*

        Re: Hot pink supplies. Buying hot pink tools was the only way I could keep the warehouse guys from stealing my tape measure/tape gun/utility knife

      4. Ten*

        I get compliments on my crocodile staple eater all the time. I’d never go back to a plain one now. =)

    2. KR*

      I have cactus a sticky notes since we are located in the desert. They aren’t very useful but they’re so cute!

    3. essEss*

      Even simply having multi-colored postit notes instead of plain yellow. That allows me to flag and categorize notes by sticking different colored mini colored postits that stick out off the edge of the page.

        1. Marillenbaum*

          May I recommend Zebra Midliners? I have a bag of about 20 colors, and they are amazing! I use them for notes (grad school) and my bullet journal, and they make everything prettier and easier to sort.

          1. Teach*

            Also the Frixion pastel highlighters! They are pastel colored and erasable. My students (all high schoolers) get to use them as a reward.

    4. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

      My friend bought me Gudetama sticky notes for work. The older people in the office were kinda freaked out by them! I’m using teddy bear sticky notes now.

    5. LAI*

      My friend bought me adorable paperclips that are shaped like dachshunds and I love them so much that I refuse to use them for anything because I don’t want to lose any.

      1. As Close As Breakfast*

        I have these little red bow shaped ones (thank you Target dollar spot!) and I do the same thing! At this point I’m basically just hoarding them and using them for stuff that just stays at my desk. But man oh man do they make me smile every time!

  15. AnonResearchManager*

    A corporate mobile phone! I honestly can not live without it, being able to see my schedule anytime of day, call into meetings while I’m stuck in traffic, respond to urgent emails/texts in real time. I know a lot of people disagree, but I find it makes things so much more flexible for me… which is the most valuable perk.

    1. Someone Else Needs The Wood*

      This. Although I occasionally grumble about carrying two phones, having one dedicated solely for work is great.

    2. FJ*

      Having one phone dedicated to work is pretty nice! I can leave it behind on weekends and not be distracted by work e-mail all the time.

      I wish our corporate security on e-mail apps would let us use third-party calendars so I could see my google calendar and work calendar in one app though!

      1. A. Schuyler*

        My work calendar syncs into the Calendar app on my iPhone which is also linked to my other personal calendars (Google, TripIt, etc.) and I find this absolutely invaluable. There was a brief period between getting a dedicated work phone and being allowed to sync my calendar to two devices where I could only see my work calendar on my work phone and it was so inconvenient.

    3. Serious Sam*

      I prefer my dual-SIM phone (Moto G5). One SIM for work, one for home, but only one item to carry and manage the charge on. Can turn off the work SIM whenever I like, e.g weekends.

    4. Anxa*

      I would have loved a GPS or smartphone at my summer job.

      I probably would have gotten 20% more work done every other day. I think they forgot I didn’t have a smartphone, although I mentioned it during the interview and once during onboarding. Oh well.

  16. JBPL*

    I have a sunlight replacement lamp in my office. I spend 8-12 hours in this windowless office (which is nice in many other ways) so I rarely see the sun in the winter. It has made my job a lot more pleasant.

    1. Julianne*

      I also work in a space that has no outside windows (there is one next to my door that looks out into an interior hallway). Tell me more about this magical lamp, please!

      1. JBPL*

        Mine is a hand-me-down, and it looks like it’s from the 70s. But the link below shows you something similar. It’s amazing for people who need some daylight in their lives or those of us who have some seasonal affective disorder. My staff calls it my sad lamp (SAD). They always make me turn it on during reviews!


    2. irritable vowel*

      At my previous job, my officemate and I bought some fluorescent tubes that mimic natural daylight and replaced the standard fluoro bulbs in our light fixtures. It made a HUGE difference. We had a window but we were in the basement so didn’t get much direct light. The two light fixtures became like skylights!

    3. Science!*

      I live in a place with low light for winter months and my workplace provides a discount for those lights for all employees.

  17. Snark*

    In no particular order:

    a) a pair of bluetooth earbuds. They don’t leak sound, so I don’t annoy my cube neighbors when I need to rawk, the sound quality is excellent, and I have no extraneous cords dangling around my hands.

    b) a standing desk, because back spasms are unpleasant at work. Honorable mention goes to my gel standing pad.

    c) a one-liter personal hot water kettle, for making the endless cups of tea I sip on throughout the (winter) day, because it’s 7% humidity here and I will spontaneously mummify if not fully hydrated. Honorable mention to my nice MiiR insulated camp mug, which keeps said tea nice and warm for a solid two hours but isn’t excessively bulky.

    d) a tea infuser, for making cold-brewed iced green tea which I sip throughout the (summer) day, because if anything it’s drier during the summer

    e) Ask A Manager, because obvs

    1. fposte*

      I have Gelpro pads in my kitchen, and they are *amazing*. If I had a standing desk I would absolutely get those.

    2. Elemeno P.*

      Bluetooth headphones are really the best. I kept getting tangled in wires and finally got a pair, and they’ve made life so much easier. I can also keep listening when I’m at the printer!

  18. super anon*

    1. One of those long gel wrist pads to use with my keyboard. I do a lot of typing at my job and the pad helps to keep my wrists in a more ergo friendly shape.

    2. A paper planner by Day Designer. I use it to augment my electronic calendars and to do lists and I’ve found it makes me much more productive because I can plan my day hour by hour and have a to do list beside it. I leave it on my desk at work and fill in the next day’s tasks before I leave for the day.

    3. A fidget toy to play with while brainstorming content or trying to plan out complex projects. Really something to play with when I need to focus and think but can’t go for a walk to pace it out. I have quite a few but my favourite is a tangle toy because it’s quiet and can be used in one hand.

    4. A book with a variety of post it notes in a bunch of different shapes and sizes.

    5. Am army of quality notebooks and pens. I have an spiral notebook that I can replace and remove pages in which makes organizing my thoughts and notes much easier. I have good quality pens because I’m less likely to lose them if I spent more money on them.

    I’m sure I have many more (such as a small army of personal care products like hand cream, lip balm, and pain relievers that all live in my desk) but these are the ones that stick out to me the most.

    1. Snark*

      Oh, and my collection of vintage-style WPA national parks posters, which introduce bright, saturated colors and relaxing imagery to my visual field, which would otherwise be dominated by black, medium gray, and fluorescent lights.

      1. Amber T*

        I got myself a fidget spinner which isn’t particularly useful for me (not to mention it broke right after I bought it…), but I got my dad a fidget cube for Christmas and I think I need one for myself. Much more my speed.

      2. Annie Moose*

        I have a little tub of Silly Putty (used to work for a company that produced a similar product) that I play with when I’m trying to figure stuff out. It’s great! The only downside is that it’s brilliant green and uh… does not come out of chair seats easily if you drop a piece. Or the seat of your light gray pants. Don’t ask how I know…

    2. Labotts*

      Ooh, tell me more about this spiral notebook. Where did you get it? Is it letter size or smaller? I love the idea of moving pages around!

      1. super anon*

        It’s a Blueline Miracle Bind. It comes in multiple colours and sizes (11×9 and 9×7) and has a ton of different inserts. There are grid inserts, normal notebook paper inserts, plain paper inserts, monthly planner inserts, project planner inserts, and even a hole punch so you can create your own inserts (for tabbed pages etc). The tabs on each page are reinforced so they don’t break when they’re removed and re-added. It’s super awesome and really useful to be able to create a fully customized notebook to your needs, move pages around or easily remove pages that need to be shredded, etc. It’s a bit pricey but if you’re passionate about organization and planning (or need to be or else you won’t ever get anything done) the money spent is well worth it. The paper is really nice too, which is an added bonus.

    3. But you don't have an accent...*

      I’m seconding the Day Designer! My sister in law got me one for Christmas and I love it :)

    4. Tara*

      Everyone please tell me your improvised fidget toys. Right now mine include:
      -coffee stirers
      -bent paperclips
      -a magnet combined with a binder clip
      -velcro cord tie (use only when alone, too much noise)
      -some string

      1. Jeannie Nitro*

        – Twist-ties from electronic cords
        – The broken-off plug bit of an HDMI cable
        – My headphone cord
        – a cheap plastic puzzle toy I “won” as part of a work contest
        – chapstick
        – a tin of Altoid Minis

      2. Borgette*

        – an orange OXO magnetic fridge clip from home
        – random bits of metal + the magnet in my phone
        – a fancy tin of rose chapstick from the Anthro bargain room
        – a lego infinity cube (Okay, this one is on purpose!)

      3. Amber T*

        I bought a squishy toy of a sleeping kitty. Actually bought a four pack… kept two for myself (the two white ones because it reminds me of my beast, one for work, one for home), gave one to a fellow cat loving coworker, and one to my mom. They’re our squishies. You boop their bellies or tug their ears, or just stare at them, wishing you were petting a real cat.

      4. Anonicat*

        Pen lids
        Rubber bands
        Sturdy twist ties
        Empty chapstick tube (lots of different surfaces and edges to feel)

        I also love fidgeting with a hoodie cord, so I got a roll of that kind of cord from the sewing shop. Cut off a few lengths, hem them at each end, and now I have a hoodie fidget even if I’m not allowed to wear a hoodie.

      5. Kiwi*

        The paper tags from my fancy teabags. They’ve got cutout corners and little notches, so lots of edges to fiddle with and I can fold them into odd shapes. They’re very satisfying.

      6. Been There, Done That*

        A plain ole pen works for me. Help when watching TV to keep my hands busy and out of the potato chips. :)

        I also used to have a “tizzy ball.” One was bright pink soft plastic with all these plastic “hairs.” They were kind of a fad in the early 2000s. Its successor was filled with some kind of gel and little plastic stars so when you squished it it made a soft nifty sound.

  19. Marley*

    Snacks! I always have a supply of things like roasted almonds and dried fruit to take the edge off if I’m trying to get something done and need a boost.

    Lotion, chapstick, a basic supply of other toiletries like contact lens solution and floss.

    Free *good* coffee at work is incredible.

    1. Snark*

      Ooooh yes, snacks are key. Whatever keeps me from wandering over to the convenience store and buying various cured meats and boxes of Mike and Ikes.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Z Nation has an episode in which they visit a corporate retreat that’s been going on since the zombie apocalypse started. It’s been three years of passing around the talking stick….

      1. Mike C.*

        In the Senate, there is traditionally a desk filled with candy from the state of the senator who sits there.

    2. Nicki Name*

      Snacks, definitely. The local Target has some fruit/nut mixes that I get in 27-ounce containers.

      Essential accessory: A spare drawer to stash them in.

      1. As Close As Breakfast*

        Or, as I have done, a small file cabinet to store all the stuff that should probably be in what has become the snack drawer.

    3. Marillenbaum*

      YES, supplies! I usually have eyedrops, lotion, mouthwash, floss picks, a compact mirror, and Tide pens. Oh, and Girl Scout cookies.

  20. Nobody Here by That Name*

    A label maker.

    The right stapler for the job and the right staple remover for the job. When you kill as many trees as my dept. does in a day, it makes a huge difference.

    1. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

      Ahhh – I love my label maker. Every once in awhile I go on a spree and start labelling everything

      1. misskleio*

        I got a Dymo Labelwriter 450 Turbo recently in the office and … it is the absolute BEST. No more wasting my time doing one-off address labels via a printer!

    2. LAI*

      Ah, I love the label maker. Also once worked in an office that had it’s own laminator. I didn’t realize how cool it was until after I left and had to live with plain old paper signs.

  21. C in the Hood*

    Hands down, my coffee mug warmer. I nurse my coffee, and sometimes I get so caught up in work that I can’t drink it right away, so it’s good to keep my coffee hot!

      1. MammaLlama*

        I recommend the Yeti thermal coffee cups. The coffee doesn’t get that “old, burned” taste from sitting on a burner all day. Yeti coffee cups are dishwasher safe!

  22. Squeeble*

    A headset for my desk phone has been great. I’m not chained to my desk and don’t get a hot ear from being on a phone a long while.

    Also, double monitors and a sit/stand desk!

  23. Reya*

    Easy touch hole punches and staplers are great for the occasions when I have to do a lot of either (they’re designed to require less force than the regular ones).

    Other than that, computer stands to make sure that everyone’s machine is at the right height for them are really important (also, it makes people happy to have nice ones). And the air con in our building isn’t really enough in summer, so plenty of fans!

    1. Reya*

      Oh, and I once worked for a company that provided tampons/other suppies in the ladies bathroom. It was a really nice touch – people tend to bring their own anyway, but just to know that in an emergency you wouldn’t have to run around trying to acquire one from somewhere, and that someone had thought about it, was so nice.

    2. JB (not in Houston)*

      Yes, I was going to say hole punches and staplers! Other things people have already said on this list are higher up my list of things I couldn’t do without (bluetooth headphones, good pens, snacks, footrest), but my PaperPro stapler is so great. I’m never going back to a regular stapler. You have no idea how much effort you use on a stapler until you switch to one that requires almost none.

  24. Mustache Cat*

    I never realized how much I appreciated tall cubical walls that actually provide privacy until they were gone.

    1. DCGirl*

      +1. I’m in the midst of requesting a reasonable accommodation because the new open office plan is wreaking havoc on my diagnosed attention issues.

        1. DCGirl*

          I just got the results of my neuropsych testing yesterday. I’d initially had it done 14 years by a different doctor, who (for obvious reasons) felt that she couldn’t sign any paperwork on my behalf after not having seen me in 14 years. She was really backed up on appointments (the testing is an all-day process) so I was referred to someone else. His take, which is somewhat different than what happened 14 years, is that I have non-verbal learning disorder for which I compensate with strong verbal skills and general intelligence, but that there are clear differences in how I process things that contribute to anxiety (mine is off the charts since the office move in December), how distracted I can become, etc. The testing is expensive ($3,000) and not always covered by insurance, but worth it.

          His recommendation is that I have a distraction-free environment with higher walls which HR has already told me isn’t going to happen, so I’m asking for some modifications to my existing space (there are, for example, rolling glass white boards that could be positioned near me that would really help), really good headphones, and a better work from home setup. I was roasted by manager for not taking advantage of WFH when I can if the environment is so intolerable (yes, my manager is being a jerk), but I also have myofascial pain syndrome and get massive neck spasms and headaches if I look down at a laptop screen all day. I also had surgery for De Quervain syndrome in my right wrist three years and find typing on a laptop all day uncomfortable. People who are full-time WFH get docking stations with external keyboards and monitors, so I’ve asked for that.

          Personally, I think that they are going to go hard for the WFH solution since the CEO is so obsessed with the look of the new office (sleek, all white surfaces, with happy people collaborating across their miniscule four-foot partitions). It’s an accommodation, but is it inclusive?

          I submitted my request today to Cigna which manages the ADA process for my employer. I’ll post in the Friday forums as I hear anything. Thanks for asking.

    2. Been There, Done That*

      My sympathies. When I joined Old Team, they had just changed to tall partitions and all the chatty people complained that the short partitions were better because people could see each other and talk more easily, which made for a better workplace and higher productivity. Sounded like a big company-paid kaffeeklatsch to me.

    3. Ophelia*

      My workplace has high cubicle walls and I find it unbearable – my coworker who I work most closely with sits beside me but we will often go days without looking each other in the face, and we have to semi-shout over our shared cubicle wall if we want to talk to each other as we’re working. I much preferred the shared office I was in at my last job.

  25. Murphy*

    A dry erase board! When I was an intern (my first office job) everyone had a whiteboard at their desk and they listed what projects they were on, sometimes with a status and important dates. I thought it was a great idea and I’ve always used one since. I obviously have deadlines on my calendar as well, but it’s nice to be able to at a glance see what all my projects are with their important dates.

    1. Breda*

      Ooh, yes! A whiteboard was one of my college ADHD workarounds, and now I’m hooked. My office one has my to-do list on it and sits in my direct field of vision. Bonus: I have to stand up and move around to add or remove things from it.

      1. Oranges*

        I had the giant desk calendar that had every class assignment on it (each class had a different color). I would fill it out at the beginning of the semester and add to it. I miss that. I need a project/time/whatever manager…

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I don’t use mine frequently, but when I have some big time mapping or coding, the dry erase board is so handy! Mine’s 11×17 so it is easy to tuck away when I’m not using it.

    3. zora*

      Our desks face glass walls that are frosted so we can use them as dry erase boards. I love it, I have written up info that I need frequently, like office addresses, billing code #s, important dates, that I get asked for all the time and don’t want to go hunting for.

    4. JennyAnn*

      I also have a notepad of dry erase pages (like 4″ x 4″). I pull off a sheet, use it for all the little scribbling I do, then when it’s finally worn down (which honestly takes like a year) grab a new sheet. The sheets are small enough that they don’t take up tons of room on my desk but big enough to take a couple of notes on.

        1. JennyAnn*

          I picked mine up at Hobby Lobby in their scrapbooking department, actually. I want to say it was like $6 before the 40% off coupon that you should never buy anything from Hobby Lobby without, and it came with 20/25 sheets.

      1. Gwenderful*

        I got some letter paper sized sheets like this and put them in the back cover of my calculus notebooks. I’d use it when working out tricky homework problems so that I wouldn’t waste a bunch of paper while I figured it out.

    5. Pasticcio*

      I made myself several ‘dry erase boards’ by writing with dry erase or whiteboard markers on clear plastic pockets with either plain card or printed calendars/to-do lists in them. They’re great because you can pin them to corkboards or they’re light enough to be clipped up anywhere on suction cup hooks.

      Some combinations of markers/pockets do seem to react weirdly together and mark or curl the plastic permanently, which is why I use the more expensive pockets with the slightly thicker, smoother plastic.

  26. Susan the BA*

    They’re not office supplies per se, but I have a lot of ’emergency’ supplies at the office – extra socks, pants, contact lenses, decorative scarf, umbrella, deodorant. It’s so easy to be thrown off your game by having to spend the day uncomfortable in pants with rain-soaked ankles or in terror because it turns out your button-down shirt doesn’t quite fit around your boobs. This stuff helps me keep non-work-related shit from getting in the way of a happy productive day.

    1. Natalie*

      Yes, this is such a good idea, and is now my go-to gift for people starting their first professional job. I started carrying a dap kit when youth+no car+dating+friends living in other areas meant I slept at other people’s houses a lot. And since then I’ve repurposed it for work.

    2. Zahra*

      Yep! And I include sanitary pads. I’m never without and I always make a point to tell my colleagues where I keep them in case of emergency. The only thing I ask is that they tell me when the pack is almost empty so I can refill.

    3. myswtghst*

      Agreed. I always have contact solution, nail files, pain killers, immodium/tums, band-aids, a Tide pen/wipes, dental floss/toothpicks, and tampons/pads in my desk (or in my bag, when I travel to our other office), as well as a jacket/cardigan and a pair of black flats in my office, just in case. As someone who spills on herself at least once a week and frequently gets paper cuts, it’s really handy, and I’ve helped out plenty of coworkers too.

  27. SQL Coder Cat*

    Four yards of windbreaker nylon. No, really.

    My cubicle walls are six feet high, and our ceilings are eight feet. Due to the way the space was remodeled for cubicles, there is no place within the cubicle where my desk can be that doesn’t result in the AC blowing down my neck. However, my amazing boss let me attach windbreaker fabric to the top of the cubicle, which deflects the air. It also has the pleasant side effect of diffusing the florescent lights.

    1. JustaTech*

      Another way to diffuse the overhead fluorescent lights that I use is this cute leaf-shaped canopy from Ikea. It’s intended for a child’s bed, but it’s not super-cutsie and it really does cut down on the glare. And if you get it from Ikea it’s cheap. For some reason the identical ones on Amazon are $50.

      1. SQL Coder Cat*

        I only have it on the back half of my cubicle. That way the ‘visitor area’ is still open.

        Funny side note: my coworkers got me tiki torches to put at the opening of my cube and refer to my cube as ‘the cabana.’

  28. sometimeswhy*

    When we were still dealing with lots of paper that was frequently stapled and unstapled, a wand staple remover was amazing. I still keep a toothy one for industrial staples but for office stuff? Like magic.

    1. Amber Rose*

      I bought my own. It was a dollar, and it’s my most treasured office supply. Toothy staple removers tear paper really badly and are slower/more awkward to use.

      My last job was 90% unstapling things, so I had lots of time to form Opinions. :)

    2. Turtlewings*

      GOSH yes. I’d never seen one of those until my current workplace, but they are so much better in every way, I can’t fathom why the toothy ones even exist. (Admittedly I hadn’t thought of industrial staples, I guess.) They’re also weirdly hard to find in my experience, I have yet to see one in a store.

    3. SilverRadicand*

      This is me showing my ignorance, but how does a wand staple remover work in a way that doesn’t tear the paper? Do you use it on the prongs of the staple first?

      1. CDM*

        I only use it on the prongs first of really heavy duty staples.

        It acts as a wedge, you slide the tip between the staple and the paper, push smoothly, and as the tool widens it forces the staple to unbend as you push further. You end up with the staple wrapped around the remover, and your paper intact.

        I bought mine during heavy backscanning at work because the claw type was killing my wrist. I haven’t gone back.

  29. Can't Sit Still*

    1. Staple remover for industrial sized staples – A co-worker who didn’t know these existed was using a screwdriver on her documents! She hugged me when I bought one for her.
    2. Scissors with a box cutting blade in the handle
    3. Foot rest with a heater and fan which turns off automatically after 8 hours

    1. Can't Sit Still*

      I forgot the best pens ever: uni-ball® Jetstream RT BLX Retractable Rollerball Pen. They have black infused ink in pretty colors that are dark enough to show on scans, and they don’t smear if you’re left-handed.

    2. Beancounter in Texas*

      I’m just imagining the box cutter coming out when using the scissors and cringing. Otherwise, sounds useful.

  30. strawberries and raspberries*

    In our White Elephant exchange, I bought a small French press because my plan was to steal it back if all the other gifts sucked. Luckily I got it back, and it’s the most badass thing ever. I buy my own amazing coffee and make the whole operation right at my desk. I’ve probably saved about $100 this month on coffee and all my coworkers who ragged me about being “bougie” are now super jealous of how Scandinavian the whole thing looks.

    1. Snark*

      Yeah, I’ve got a full selection of teas and coffee, with a French press that I also use as a tea infuser, at my desk, along with agave syrup, caramel syrup, and a water kettle. Total lifesaver. Ain’t nobody got time for $4.50 lattes.

    2. MLiz*

      I have an INSULATED French press slash thermo mug at work. I don’t strictly need it in this office (because I get coffee for free that’s good coffee), but in my last job I had to walk two buildings over just to get milk and hot water or coffee. It’s been a lifesaver. It lives on my desk and when I’m busy/pressed for time/need more than a small cup of coffee I will brew it in there and have fresh, amazing, HOT coffee for a while.

      (Also amazing when the fancy Jura in the break room breaks)

    3. KylieB*

      I do the same thing. I have a 32 oz. double walled French press and my in-laws bought me a milk frother. So yeah, I make my own cafe au lait. The rest of the office has a Keurig. I just decided to own the fact that I was a coffee snob.

    4. Shelby Drink the Juice*

      I have a manual coffee grinder that I use with my press. Made by Java Presse. Everyone knows when I’m in when they hear the grinding.

  31. SM*

    I second a good pair of over-the-ear headphones. They’re great when I need some me-time to get things done because they cancel out the noise around me, and they’re super visible so people know not to bother me.

    And insulated thermos that keeps my coffee and tea warm for hours. I take it with me everywhere.

    My own pens. Our company buys these felt pens that I hate because they write so thick and dry out quickly. I finally caved in and bought a box of twenty of my favorite.

    Although these are the default supplied by the company, I’m really glad for my wireless keyboard and mouse and a second monitor.

  32. AVP*

    A nice Italian stapler that looks so unique from the standard American stapler that it’s essentially unstealable.

    1. AVP*

      I would add that – while you personally shouldn’t be buying this, if it’s in the office budget? If there’s a software program or work app that you’re constantly “sharing” log-ins with a co-worker or abusing the trial periods for, just BUY IT. You’ll be so much happier.

      1. Boris*

        Oh yeah, the day we actually bought sufficient licenses for Adobe Acrobat was a good day in my office.

  33. Rebecca*

    1. Snake plants (my $)
    2. Wireless keyboard/mouse (company $)
    3. Kneeling desk chair (company $)
    4. Square, hard cover, spiral bound sketchbook for notebook (my $)
    5. Multi-colored Pilot Precise V5 pens (company $)
    6. Well-stocked tea shelf, kettle, tea pot (my $)

      1. Rebecca*

        I think I got deleted because I posted an ecommerce link. Sorry. But anywho…it’s sort of like sitting on a comfier zen bench. Not perfect, but helps me sit straight, where regular chairs encourage slumping over.

        1. Papyrus*

          I remember watching the Simpsons and Lisa had a chair just like this one. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in real life and was always intrigued by it, but I wonder if it would be too hard on the knees.

          1. AMPG*

            They were all the rage in the 90’s, which is probably why Lisa has one. My high school computer lab replaced all the regular chairs with these. They were amazingly comfortable, and distribute weight such that they’re not hard on your knees at all. I wonder why they fell out of favor.

            1. irritable vowel*

              Possibly because they’re not best for people wearing business suits (wrinkled trouser knees) or many types of skirts, and they can also be seen as a bit undignified. So maybe that resulted in companies not buying them at scale? At my last job the CEO had one and he always looked a bit weird sitting in it. (I totally get that they’re better for you but they are super-weird to look at if you’re used to seeing people sitting in normal chairs!)

          2. Rebecca*

            It doesn’t bother my knees at all, but if I’m at my desk for too long, my hips freeze up a bit.

    1. CDM*

      Wireless keyboard with programmable keys!!

      I paid for it myself when my cheapo keyboard went kaput. Having a delete key on the left side of the keyboard is a game-changer. I also have keys programmed at the top for single key cut, copy and paste. All I lack is a comma key near the numeric keypad, and I’d be all set. (this design doesn’t have anything programmable in that region)

      I don’t understand why all keyboards don’t come with a left hand delete key and single key cut-copy-paste keys.

    2. Been There, Done That*

      I didn’t know kneeling chairs were still out there. I haven’t seen one since the 80s.

  34. Jen*

    Oh, I wish I could wear my amazing over-ear headphones at work but if I could, they’ve be number one!

    Double monitors are another good one, although the set up in my current job could be better. I much preferred my old job setup of two monitors side by side with one computer tower, whereas here it’s a laptop and a screen.

    Once I get more settled into this job, I’ll also be asking for a padded mousemat or I might just get my own. My wrist is starting to get pretty sore on a daily basis!

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      Suggestion: reverse your mouse buttons.

      You can change which of the buttons is the main one and which is the “right-click” one. It’s a tiny change that makes a huge difference for some people. Just changing up which finger is doing most of the work made my wrist happy again.

  35. socrescentfresh*

    My standing desk and floor pedaler. (Not to be used simultaneously, unless you want to practice for your circus audition.) They’re the only reason I don’t get chair butt after 8 hours at my desk.

    1. Gayle Davidson-Durst*

      “(Not to be used simultaneously, unless you want to practice for your circus audition.)”

      Thank you for making me laugh – I’m in a shitty mood today and this helped!

  36. Lead Technical Writer*

    Echoing other commenters with additional monitors, good pens, and some way to supply hot water that isn’t a microwave. Also decent tissues (two-ply!), band-aids, and the combination of Aspirin / Acetaminophen/ Ibuprofin.

    These lovely supplies have made my deep freeze of a New England commute bearable this winter.

  37. Amber Rose*

    Space heater for under my desk. I’d freeze to death in the winter without it.

    My label maker. I love my label maker. Much faster to use and easier to read than my crappy handwriting.

    I would probably use a footrest. I’m currently using a spare garbage can turned upside down. It works just fine though.

    Stuff I wish I had:

    A three-hole punch. Everyone in the office has their own two-hole punch, but all 30 of us share a single three-hole, which I keep on my desk and guard jealously. I feel like even one or two more would make me feel less Stapler Guy about it.

    Industrial stapler. The kind that can shoot a staple through 100 pages no sweat. Ours has been broken for a while and I miss it.

    1. Can't Sit Still*

      I love my label maker! It’s so much better than using sheets of labels when I only need a few at a time. I’ve been printing dozens of hang tabs with it this week and it’s great! Much easier than printing the labels, then sticking them on the tab.

    2. Amber Rose*

      Oh, and giant sticky notes. Our crating company has a novelty sticky note pad that comes on a tiny little wooden pallet, and it seems gimmicky until you realize that the added weight means it doesn’t slide away from you while you’re writing on it. The oversize sticky notes are just as good.

      1. Lefty*

        I got one of those little pallet pads at a tradeshow years ago- I loved it for the same reason! Once all of the paper was gone, that little pallet became a cute coaster on my desk.

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      Space heater for sure. I work in an old building and its HVAC can’t keep up with rapid changes in outdoor temps. There’s been times when I arrived at work and my office was 55 degrees.

    1. Changed*

      My pick too. I have a laptop which connects to a dock on my desk to effectively become a desktop, but every time I undock to go to a meeting I’m grateful that I accidentally bought a second mouse when I was getting a Christmas present for my friend.

  38. Mike C.*

    A pair of Sony MDR-7506 headphones. These are the sorts of headphones you always see radio DJs and camera people wear, black and over the ear. Very flat response and such good insulation that you can keep the volume of your music low while not hearing anything going on around you. Very comfortable to wear for hours at a time as well. Practically indestructible, with replacement parts that are easy to order and install if something does happen. Around $80.

    1. AVP*

      I work with a lot of camera and sound people and these are the only ones we use! They used to seem expensive but as regular consumer headphones get pricier and pricier they feel like a bargain now.

    2. Miss Herring*

      It looks like you can get them used on Ebay for less than half that. I don’t know much about headphones. Would getting them used be an issue? Maybe with new earpads?

  39. RML*

    Standing desk, kitchens stocked with snacks (free soda, seltzer, and water, huge variety of beer and hard ciders, hummus, veggies, fresh fruit, pretzels, chips, M&Ms, beef jerky, string cheese, espresso machines, all types of milk, yogurt, cereal, plus bagels delivered in once a week), focus rooms with comfortable seating (we have open seating and there are a ton of rooms with a table, phone, and some have couches). One of our other locations has way better snacks than my office – when I travel there I stock up on RX bars and all sorts of other treats for the flight home! That office also has catered lunch every single day with a TON of options, a huge spread, plus breakfast 2 days a week. I wish I worked there but I can’t move to that city at this point in my life. :)

    We used to have a deal with Manicube – you could book in office manicures a certain day of the week and they’d do it in a conference room at a discount. (Cheaper than a salon but not free.) We also had free yoga and boot camp classes. But our office moved and we no longer get these perks.

    1. RML*

      Oh, and free tampons and pads in the bathroom, and a cabinet full of ibuprofin, tums, tylenol, benadryl, cold meds, band aids, and all other types of OTC meds. generic, but extremely helpful. Only missing anti-anxieties like lorazapam – I have to bring my own script lol. :)

      1. JustaTech*

        My office used to have Advil, Tylenol and aspirin stocked with the office supplies, but then someone decided there was some kind of liability in having it around. So then people took stuff out of the first aid kits. So then new corporate decided that there couldn’t be any medication (oral medication) in the first aid kits because we might poison each other.

        So now we buy stuff on the sly. *sigh*

      2. Nicki Name*

        +++ for free tampons and pads! I’ve only seen that at one employer and wish more companies did that.

        1. Soz*

          This is one of those things – why is loo roll free and not tampons? they are both things we have to have hygienically. I’ve been to 1 pub which has them free with the loo roll. Banging.

        2. Connie-Lynne*

          I walked into the ladies room at Change.org and OMG the vast selection of free menstrual products made me feel so supported and seen.

      3. Triumphant Fox*

        I did like that my last job had Emergen-C and a whole host of OTC meds available, but it was a little gross. The Emergen-C was fine because it was single use packets, but the other meds were giant generic bottles and we had issues with some people not being hygienic (hand washing, general cleanliness – nails in particular) and once someone pointed out that they never used the medicine because of that and I couldn’t un-hear that. I wished they would have had individual packets. Probably more expensive, but people always dump half the bottle in their hand, then put all but two back.

    2. RML*

      Oh, we also have walking/working treadmills. They have tables across them so you can bring your laptop and walk up to 2mph. At our old location they had monitors on them so you could plug in and actually work on the large screens, but at our new office we have a mix of Mac and PC users so they didn’t add the monitors to them.

  40. ZenJen*

    My must-haves:
    Contigo travel mug (AWESOME and doesn’t leak–I can even put it in my designer tote without worry)
    Quo Vadis Visual paper planner–keeps me organized and the paper is SO nice and smooth and gel pens never bleed or show through (makes those Ata Glance planners look like crap, sorry!)
    G2 gel pens
    wireless mouse
    gel keyboard rest

    1. ThatGirl*

      My Contigo mug is great. I had an older one, and my only complaint was that it was hard to clean; the newer one has the flip-out bit so I can get in there and scrub out the coffee buildup. Hurray!

    2. zora*

      I love the Contigo mug for traveling!!! I don’t really use it on my commute these days, but I love the security of being able to put it in my carry on and not worry about it leaking. Amazing.

  41. Bow Ties Are Cool*

    1) Good mechanical pencils, the kind with the nice gel grip. Our admin got them for us after she noticed how many of us were bringing in our own!
    2) Good pens. Same admin, same reason.
    3) A Cubii (silent under-desk elliptical). I bought that one for myself. It’s amazing how much more productive I am when all my fidget-energy is well directed into real exercise. Also it’s helping me lose weight and my calves are toned AF.
    4) Permission to wear headphones. This is a must in any open-type office.
    5) Dual monitors. Big, nice HD ones.

  42. Cassandra*

    A humidifier in my office. I’m in a cold climate such that indoor air is bone-dry in winter. The humidifier prevents nosebleeds (seriously!) and eases unpleasantly dry skin somewhat.

    I also made myself a back-of-door kanban board with one of those easel-size sticky sheets and Post-It notes. It’s working well to force me to remember back-of-brain things that still need to get done, and I can change out the projects just by putting up a new sticky sheet.

    Repeating things others have said: electric kettle, lamp, decent writing implements.