As hundreds of new lawyers, MBAs, and other professionals head to work for the start of their jobs, we thought we’d round up some supplies that everyone needs in their office. In future editions we’ll tackle office supplies and gadgetry, but for now, here’s what you should pick up on your next trip to Drugstore.com.
1. New-Skin. Yes, it’s an electronic world, but there are still far more papers to deal with than you’d think — which means papercuts abound — which means every open wound increases your chances of getting sick. Our preferred method of dealing with papercuts is to apply a liquid bandage like New-Skin. It dries quickly, stays on all day, even after you’ve washed your hands, and it doesn’t leave that gummy residue on your nails and fingers. We recommend New-Skin Antiseptic Liquid Bandage, available at Drugstore.com (as is everything listed in this article) for $6.19.
2. Purell. This is another great way to ward off colds — and it’s particularly helpful to keep at your desk if you commute to work via public transportation (you can clean your hands the minute you get to the office), or if you shake hands with a lot of people during the course of your job. If you get one with aloe, it won’t dry your hands out as much. Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer with Aloe, Moisturizers & Vitamin E, available at Drugstore.com for $3.51.
3. Thermometer. The higher up the food chain you go, the more you’ll find that a little head cold is not an acceptable reason to stay away from the office if work needs to be done in it. That said, it’s generally poor form to come to work (or stay at work) if you’re contagious. Obviously you’ve got a thermometer at home to know when you’re running a fever — but it can be helpful to have one at the office for those occasional stretches where you’re practically living at the office, or where you suddenly feel lousy in the middle of the afternoon. We’ve always done well with a digital one, like the Vicks Comfort-Flex Thermometer, available at Drugstore.com for $12.99.
4. Preservative-free eye drops. Long hours of staring at the computer = dry eyes. For some women this is a particular problem. Our suggestion: invest in preservative-free drops. If you use the drops only occasionally, then you’ll be happy to open up a new vial of eye drops. If you use them frequently, you’ll be glad you’re not overloading your eyes with preservatives. We recommend TheraTears Lubricant Eye Drops, Single-Use Containers, available at Drugstore.com for $12.79.
5. Visine, Clearasil, and cover-up. Yes, we’re recommending you get both Visine and preservative-free eye drops. This is because several eye doctors have warned us against frequent use of Visine — something to do with the preservatives and the chemicals that take away the redness. But, that said, Visine can be great for those embarrassing times when you’ve got a zit or some other red spot on your face — use a Q-tip (or wrap a tissue around a pencil eraser), soak the cotton with the Visine, and dab it on your red spot. Visine — it gets the red out. We also recommend keeping Clearasil and cover-up on hand. Visine Advanced Redness Reliever Eye Drops, available at Drugstore.com for $7.29.
6. Floss. You probably won’t use this one a lot, but you’ll thank us for that rare time when you do use it — like when you’ve got something in your teeth and have to run to a partner’s or executive’s office. We recommend Glide Dental Floss, Comfort Plus, Mint, available at Drugstore.com for $3.99.
7. Eye-makeup remover. There are a lot of reasons for keeping eye-makeup remover with you in the office. We most commonly use it on those those nights when we’re stuck in the office in front of the computer — maybe it’s just us, but our eyes feel tired, and our mascara just feels gross and heavy after sixteen-plus hours of wear. Another big reason for having eye-makeup remover: occasionally, emotions may screw up your eye-makeup. Whether you’re crying for joy, sorrow, or frustration or anger (and hopefully you’re doing this behind closed doors), your eye makeup may need to be redone entirely in order to “save face” when you stick your head out of your office. We’re fans of Nivea Visage Eye Make Up Remover, available at Drugstore.com for $5.99.
8. Advil. Just give in to the idea that you’ll likely be at the office when you get a lot of headaches/cramps/aches, and invest in an economy-size bottle.
9. Tampons and/or pads.
10. Basic make-up (if you don’t already carry it in your purse). On the rare day that you can get to the gym, or when you walk to work, or when you need to re-do your makeup, you’ll be set.
I keep some sort of stomach-problem-cure-all on hand at all times in the office, particularly during recruiting-lunch season when I often find myself overly stuffed and trying to make it through an afternoon of document review.
My personal choice is pepto (in chewable or pill form for ease of storage and use).
If you wear contacts, keep a contact case and your glasses on hand at all times (I think that it’s worth it to own a second pair of glasses that are permanently at the office).
When you have to be at the office into the wee hours of the morning, you’ll be glad to give your eyes a break. Besides, if you ever lose a contact at work, you won’t have to muddle through your day half-blind.
I also keep bandaids (for shoe wounds), static-electricity spray (don’t need it often, but when you do, you really do), and shout wipes. Oh, and cleaning spray for the desk/phone/etc – it’s not like the cleaning crew actually cleans office surfaces other than the carpet.
tide pen or some other product for dealing with stains!
Definitely a lint roller, especially in the winter. And these deodorant removers are great if you have to change in the office:
Toothbrush / toothpaste, nail files and a mini-face wash are great if you have after-work plans.
This kit seems to have it all:
Also, these swabplus Qtips filled with nail polish remover or eye makeup remover or other stuff are super easy to store and use
I fully second the above comments. I also make sure to keep hand lotion at my desk, especially in winter. There’s nothing worse than going to shake a client’s hand and realizing my skin looks like an alligator’s.
Pump hair spray with no scent! btw, New Skin is a great idea and I will go buy some this week.
I haven’t seen nylons on anyone’s list, and, for me, an extra pair (or two) of these are ESSENTIAL desk drawer items. (Maybe these are essentials in only certain parts of the country.) I also keep a pair of flats handy and a favorite scent in the form of a roller ball (or roller ball & lip gloss) tube. Finally, (in addition to K’s comment about lotion) I keep one of Sephora’s “nourishing cuticle oil” pens handy. I have struggled with dry cuticles for the last two years simply due to the paper cuts and massive amounts of paper and old files I handle. This pen is a quick and handy solution. I keep it with my other pens in a top drawer, and, when I spot it, it’s a little reminder to take two minutes and use it.
Spare pair of tights/hose, spare knee highs (i keep a box of the el-cheapo drug store ones in a drawer), toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hand lotion. Also a spare pair of undies. (You will be very grateful for these if you have to pull an all-nighter.)
My firm keeps all the basics stocked in our pantry (pain medication, stomache meds, bandaids, rubbing alcohol, throat drops) but what i find most handy at my desk is 1. Mouthwash (sometimes you don’t have the time to head to the bathroom for a full brushing but this can be a lifesaver) and 2. vitamins (my food habits go to hell when I’m working a lot and this way at least I know I am getting some vitamins)
I also second the nailpolish remover, I totally noticed a huge, embarrassing chip in my dark polilsh right before a big meeting and used the remover to take it all off so I was appropriate for the big meeting
Deodorant (also for all-nighters);
clear or very light nail polish for high runs in my nylons plus extra nylons;
nail clippers (how annoying is a hangnail ALL day!);
a change of undies AND an outfit that hangs wells at work (poly blend dress pants and a sweater, if I need to pretend I went home);
hair products (I have curly hair and can’t take a shower w/o them at the end);
a pair of comfy, work acceptable flat for all-nighters (so appreciated when you are wearing tough shoes to work)
I keep a toothbrush and toothpaste (sometimes tapas is a great lunch idea, until you have a big meeting an hour later). Also useful for all nighters.
I also keep a deodorant for all nighters.
A container of clear nail polish (for runs in the hose)
Hand lotion (those papers also suck moisture out of your hands)
A nail file – I keep breaking nails on bankers boxes.
Big container of tums
A bottle of dayquil. Actually, a partner I work with has come begging for dayquil once. You just never know when you will start off the morning feeling just slightly off, and by hour 14 you are in complete death spiral.
These are all great ideas. I would say, though, that if you are experiencing dry eyes due to staring at your computer all day, you are damaging your eyes and you might want to invest in a glare screen or possibly even “computer glasses.” These magnify just slightly so that you don’t have to strain your eyes so much. I used to get tons of headaches at work from staring at my computer and I haven’t had one since I got my computer glasses. So, ask your optician!
Do you guys really have time to “touch up” let alone re-do your eye makeup when a partner or C-level exec calls (or sends their assistant) to drag you to their office or a meeting (unplanned) ASAP? This used to happen to me all the time and I barely had time to refresh my lip stick/gloss before I had to sprint down the hall to another floor. Can’t imagine having to change hose or remove and re-apply makeup and still make it “in time.”
I second the saline eye drops and the Visine–for the eye redness as well as other redness–but only infrequently for the eyes. Definitely some light or clear nail polish for runs in the nylons.