I entered the world of work in 2006 and boy has it been an adventure.
I’ve had to figure out where my personality, workplace culture and business etiquette intersect. And sure, I’m still figuring out what works and what doesn’t, when and where.
But after seven years, I’ve discovered that there are key things I absolutely, positively need to survive from day to day. Here are seven of them.
Image: Jimmy Choos on the Treadmill
The day I discovered the travel-and-trial section in Target was the day my career life changed forever. No, seriously. These mini bottles and pouches of miscellany saved me from the embarrassment of on-the-job mishaps like pasta sauce stains and garlicky lunches in a pinch. My all-time faves? Tide to Go and mini bottles of mouthwash.
A tech-savvy professional, I once tried to skip business cards at meetings and offer to email or text my mobile contact card. No bueno! I’ve learned that most people, particularly seasoned executives, don’t care for your intangible, 21st century version of a business card. They want the real thing. If your office doesn’t provide you with some, it’s worth getting your own. Check out the impressive, attention-getting selection at moo.com.
You’ll always find someone who is good to you on the job. At least, that’s been my experience. When I want to express my appreciation, I turn to the trusty handwritten note. In an emailed-out work culture, it speaks volumes. My favorites are the capital foldover note cards from The Stationery Studio. So totally worth getting now that they’re on sale.
Image: mischiru via Compfight cc
There are some days when lunch just isn’t enough. I feel peckish. I need brain fuel. I need chocolate. And I don’t want to spend money at the overpriced vending machine. The answer? A snack stash at my desk. I’ve kept everything from a jar of M&Ms to granola bars handy for me and for my coworkers–when they need it. I’ve never regretted this addition to my workspace!
Image: Risto Juntunen via Compfight cc
In my early career days, I quickly learned the value of a having an extra pair (read: pairs upon pairs) of professional shoes on standby in my car. This habit came in handy for unexpected meetings on casual Fridays and for that one time my heel broke while on the job. No car? Keep an extra pair stowed away at your desk. (P.S. You might want to rethink this if your chosen footwear is Christian Louboutin or some other schmancy fancy brand.)
Among my list of things work life would be awesome without? Wardrobe malfunctions, super-cold board rooms, and any type of fabric stain. Enter the pashmina (depending on the scenario) and the blazer. They’re great to have on hand as coverups for inconvenient and chilly moments. If you’re ever wandering through an airport with time to spare, check out Bijoux Terner kiosks and stores for a wide selection $10–or shop online.
Image: Megan Day0903 via Compfight cc
Not every work day will be amazing. I’ve been through burnout during tight deadlines and bad company news that tried to get the best of me. My fix for it? A smile. I’ve noticed that–accompanied by a kind word or a compliment–it’s my No. 1 office accessory. And best of all, it doesn’t cost a thing.
Now, over to you. What are your must-haves for getting by at work?