Any employer who expects their employees to buy their own stationery is immediately labelled a monster. Your employer is supposed to provide you with everything you need to do your job well. Unless you’re a makeup artist or a performing clown, there’s no need to bring your own tools or props.

However, after a couple of months on the job, you realise your back is aching from the lousy office chair HR provided you with, and you spend half an hour each day walking to the nearest water cooler which is located in another tower of the building. Great. Here are three essential items that seem insignificant but can help to make you a happier, more productive worker.

Water dispenser

We’ve all had those days at the office when we were so busy we barely had time to go to the toilet, let alone visit the pantry to get a water refill. Even slight dehydration can have quite serious side effects and affect your immune system, causing you to have to take more MCs. Being dehydrated also affects your mood and makes you less productive.

It’s a good idea to buy a small water dispenser that can store at least three litres of water and keep it by your desk. Not only does it help you to monitor your total water intake for the day, it also encourages you to drink up throughout the day no matter how busy you are.

Stress ball

Unless you have a job at a wellness spa as a massage tester, some degree of stress is inevitable at work. And in order to perform well in a high pressure job, you absolutely need to find a way to keep the stress at bay. This is something they don’t teach you at school, but time and again I’ve seen how employees who are able to keep a cool head in the face of work demands and unreasonable supervisors outperform those who melt at the first signs of stress.

Keep a stress ball on your desk so you can squeeze your frustrations away. Grab it the moment that irritating colleague’s voice starts to grate on your nerves or that demanding client gives you a ring. You’ll find you’ll be less reactive to unpleasant emotions, since you’re channelling all that tension into beating the crap out of the stress ball.


Sure, everyone uses iCal, Google Calendar or Outlook to make a note of their meetings and appointments. But there are some advantages to having an old-fashioned organiser or agenda on your desk. You can use it as a diary or notebook of sorts rather than simply a planner. A physical agenda enables you to take quick notes, scribble in your thoughts or important points to remember and view your schedule at a glance without having to click to an overview of the month or year. You can include to-do lists or points to note about each appointment, which is harder on a virtual calendar.

When you go for meetings, it’s also a lot easier to take notes and schedule appointments using a physical organiser rather than use your smartphone to check your virtual calendar. By all means continue tracking your appointments electronically. But if you don’t have a physical organiser in addition, you’re missing out on a lot of valuable note-taking, and will not be able to capture the finer details pertaining to your various appointments. Don’t slam it before you try it.


The original version of this story was published in on October 14, 2016

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