8 Things Every Guy Should Have in His Desk Drawer

New to an office, or feeling like the one you're in isn't ready for all the shrapnel work throws your way? Load up on these eight essentials and be ready for anything.

I’ve had various jobs in my young career, including retail, non-profit, freelance writer and motivational speaker. Therefore, I’ve had the need for a lot of various items to be at my quick disposal.


I usually try to keep a little bit of paper and coin money in my desk just for that rainy day when I’ll need 50 cents or I’ll need to coin flip a task with a co-worker. I’m on a great winning streak lately so that quarter is coming in handy. At my home office, cash is always nice because a few of the restaurants I order from don’t take credit cards, so cash is a must for my late night food needs.

Plus, the Girl Scouts don’t take a credit card.

Thank You Cards

It is definitely manly to send a thank-you note. They are simple and very personal. Plus they are pretty inexpensive. Anytime you have a one-time meeting with someone or it’s a special occasion, you should thank the attendees for their time. As we all know, time is money. I may not have a good meeting, but when I get a personal note of thanks, it does help. And if it happened to be a great meeting, that person is likely to move further up my list.

Flash Drive

I think this is pretty obvious for having in your desk drawer, your man-purse, shoulder-bag or briefcase. I use mine to carry documents I reference frequently or to transfer files from my work computer to my home office computer. It is also nice when someone needs a file that is too big to email or you need to work on a document remotely or at the library.


Remember that garlic pasta you had for lunch with your co-workers? And remember that client meeting you had later that same day that you didn’t land? Oh yeah, garlic! Of course I’m not saying it had anything to do with it, but it could, so why take the chance? I have gum in my kitchen and my office desk. I buy a bulk pack at Costco and it lasts about a year.

Picture of Your Significant Other

While I have seen the case of having too many photos of your children and family in offices, a few on your desk or in your window is a nice way to not only dress up your desk, but also make it personal. It is for you, not your business meeting partners. I’ve heard people say that they don’t want photos of their loved ones at work, but I beg to differ.

At any moment of any day, I can look up and see a reminder of where I’ve been and the great life I’m living.


I like to keep a few flavors of tea in my office drawer. Some are green and some are black teas. That way, depending on my mood and my needs, I can quickly get a healthy, (yes, tea does have health benefits!) flavorful,  warm drink. And nothing shows sophistication like drinking warm tea all year long.

Moleskin Notebook (or something similar)

I personally don’t use a Moleskin, but something with a hard cover with artist quality paper on the inside. I haven’t completely bought into this notebook, but I am someone who constantly evaluates my processes and for now, I’m with this one. But it’s important for me to always have my notebook with me. It is where I keep ideas, thoughts, questions, and all my notes from meetings. There is never a time where I don’t know where my notes from a meeting are at.

Something Motivational

I have a few items in my office that are motivational including a painting I’ve made, a painting I’ve been given, photos I’ve taken and quotes I’ve been given. Those work for me.

I also have a small shelf for my favorite books that are currently inspiring me. These range from fiction to non-fiction, but when I see them, they inspire me to go after my dreams, keep fighting or simply spread love. We all have down moments and imagine what someone feels who comes into your office when they need a lift. Does your office offer motivation?

I know I have way more than these eight items in my drawer, but most of those items are convenience items or things I just don’t want to move. Keep in mind; this is a list for a general man’s desk and is not career specific. And for Pete’s sake, don’t let your desk be a mess!

Richard Dedor is a writer, speaker and personal coach dedicated to helping each person achieve their dreams. He ran for political office at age 18 and recently published his first book, Anything is Possible. You can find him at his blog Believe in Possible and on Twitter @RichardDedor.

  • http://www.manvsstyle.com Schmidty

    I think the “thankyou cards” are over looked, not just when you have a new office, but for every single guy that works out there.

    Its amazing how much people will appreciate a small thankyou and on a card makes it so much personal than a quick email or txt message.

    Thanks for reminding me Richard, I will be going out to buy some tomorrow.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Great point Schmidty, I think in general guys should get used to sending thank you cards more often, not just for gifts, but for meetings etc. It will take you far.

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  • Whask

    Something to add onto the “Thank You” card suggestion…write on the back of the box or package of cards WHO you have given one too, unless you like giving the same card out twice if you’re lucky enough to have someone do something nice for you TWICE!

  • http://www.richarddedor.com/blog Richard

    @Whask – I totally agree with you. I was actually sending out a thank-you card to a client last week and wondered which one they had already received. I’m going to start doing your little tip.

    @Schmidty – I am still surprised at how many people *don’t* send thank-you notes. I work in an industry where I am solicited a lot for business… and I’d say only about 50% of the people follow up with an email or a card. It does go a long way!
    .-= Richard´s last blog ..Gratitude Week: Tears =-.

  • Ray

    Great tip. I am starting a new job where stewardship is key.

  • Max

    The bottle of Jameson’s counts as inspiration if I am not mistaken.

  • Bluejacket_989

    Why is there a picture of whiskey in the desk drawer as well?

  • Don’t Call Saul–Srsly

    I am an avid outdoor enthusiast/ survivalist and put myself through college and law school working as a backpacking and fishing guide during the summer–so I probably tend to over-prepare. Reading through my list might help someone decide what they need for their own office though.

    At the office I keep: condoms, a lighter and a big jar candle, a corkscrew/ bottle opener, and a pocketknife. Even if you do not drink or smoke these can make you a hero especially during an all-nighter or during a blackout.

    I keep a first aid kit in the bottom drawer of my filling cabinet with an emergency suitcase (more on that latter) that includes: small bottles of aspirin, nausea medicine, antihistamine, cold/ flu medicine, antacids, bandaids, alcohol, antibiotic ointment, hard candy, insect repellent, sunscreen are not only useful but greatly appreciated by others you work with.

    I like having a tool bag including: super glue, duct tape, electrical tape, a small sandwich bag of assorted nails/ screws/ bolts/ nuts, a small hammer, a phillips and flat head screwdriver, regular and needle nose pliers will give you the tools to rig just about anything until it can be fixed or replaced. I cram all of my tools in a zippered canvas bank bag–you will have to look hard to find a hammer that will fit in a bag this small. I also keep this in the bottom drawer of the letter size filling cabinet with my first aid kit and my emergency suitcase.

    Being prepared for ANY situation that will occur is a must in the work environment! As a plaintiffs attorney, I often deal with both clients and other attorneys that could use a drink. I keep a sleeve of 12 ounce styrofoam cups with a sleeve of lids and some straws, two gallons of water, a good bottle of scotch, gin, bourbon, rum, and vodka on hand at all times. I also have a mini fridge with coke, diet coke, canned orange juice, club soda, a six pack of light domestic beer, and a bottle of chardonnay (which no one has ever complained about drinking out of a styrofoam cup.) I love my mini-fridge, it is a 5.5 side by side refrigerator/ freezer. It is an Igloo from Walmart and is less than $300. I put a microwave on top of one side and a coffee pot on the other. I can make coffee from my two gallons of water in the refrigerator. Due to the sensitive nature of some of my cases–this allows me to not leave the office or invite a secretary in if I need coffee or drinks.

    I have a larger office than many people, but if you can squeeze it in I would suggest putting a couch in your office. I replaced the standard two chairs on the other side of my desk and put a couch there instead. When I am talking to clients they can tell their story in comfort and be at ease–when I pull an all nighter and stay at the office it gives me a place to sleep. I have a narrow dinning table in my office with 8 narrow waiting room style chairs around it–if I am signing/ reviewing documents–I will take clients over there. It also allows me a place to prepare/ glue/ paint exhibits as well as eat/ entertain in my office. I have a tv with a built in DVD player mounted on the wall above the table and keep a selection of coloring books and crayons–along with a handful of old Disney cartoon movies to keep kids entertained while I conduct business with their parents.

    Appearances are important in every business, in mine they are important to not only keep a client–but to get new ones as well. Keeping a full dopp kit and fresh suit with matching OCBD and tie, also some casual/ golf/ sailing clothes like: polo + slacks & shorts + boat shoes & sneakers, and a raincoat with duck boots are also important–because you never know what the day will bring or if you might not make it home. I know a bunch of guys that keep their golf bag and shoes in the office–I think this looks tacky and sends the wrong impression to clients. If you really need to go play golf to schmooze a client–every club in the US has some old clubs you can use–and they are usually fairly good and don’t cost anything to use.

    In addition to some emergency changes of clothes, I also keep a packed suitcase in my office that I only use for emergency trips–or as a last resort when the above clothing is dirty/ or something happens. This suitcase has its own TSA friendly overnight dopp kit, two sets of casual clothes, a suit, a pair of dress shoes and a pair of sneakers in a 21.5 x 14.5 x 9 suitcase which I keep in the drawer of a regular letter size filing cabinet–I could keep a suitcase up to 18.5 inches wide in the wider legal size filing cabinet–but my suitcase will fit in all known airlines in the world (the current smallest in 2016 is Are Lingus at 21.5 x 15.5 x 9) and since I always carry my passport, I like the reassurance that I can fly anywhere in the world at a moments notice.

    I also have some sports memorabilia behind my desk, including a signed baseball bat–which can be quickly taken off the wall in case of an unruly client. I also keep a Kimber .45 and two extra magazines in my desk because being a plaintiff’s attorney brings you into contact with all sorts of people.

    I know that all of the stuff listed above takes up a lot of space. Maybe you can’t put a table in your office. Maybe you can’t switch chairs for a couch (without the table the couch would not be comfortable for clients to review documents.) If you are only going to take my advice for two things: 1) get a tide to go pen–it will clean many eating spills, get some window cleaner and paper towels–you can clean most messes on many surfaces with these, and get some sort of air freshener–in case you have a stinky client/ someone burns something in the lunchroom. 2) keep a complete change of clothes at the office in case you need them during the day or in case you don’t make it home (for whatever reason: romantic rendezvous/ miss train or ferry/ in hospital all night looking after friend or relative.)