(Photo Credit: Chris Violette/Flickr)
Here are a few examples from our desks. (Hat-tip to Lifehacker, which covered a similar angle for your car.)
1. Something to write on, and something to write with.
"What, like the Pilgrims did?" Yes, an actual piece of paper and pen are essential items for any work space, even if you have written so much as your name on a check since the turn of the century. You never know when your computer will go on the fritz right as inspiration strikes.
2. Cough drops or tea.
Of course, if you eat cough drops like candy all day long at your desk, you're definitely going to exceed your recommended daily allowance of sugar and/or fake sweeteners, but having something soothing to the throat is essential in most offices, where the relative temperature and humidity is geared toward angering everyone an equal amount. Compromise!
3. A first aid kit.
Buy one fully stocked, or make your own, and you'll never have to wander the aisles of your cubicle farm, searching for a Band-Aid or some ibuprofen ever again. Additional suggested items: eye drops, antibacterial ointment, ice pack. Heck, throw in an eye patch. Even if you generally manage to muddle through your day without a corneal abrasion -- and if you don't, please stop working and go to the emergency room -- it'll come in handy when Talk Like a Pirate Day rolls around again.
4. Comfortable shoes.
Even if you wear flat shoes (or men's shoes) all day, every day, you can get caught unawares by a pinchy new pair, or a gym injury that didn't make itself apparent until you were limping through your day. Bring sneakers, or keep an old pair at work, so that you can change into something cushier at a moment's notice.
Plastic is neater and harder to spend on gum and coffee, but most office vending machines won't take your debit card, and anyway, you never know when someone will organize a lunch order at your favorite restaurant.
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