Office Supplies An Administrative Assistant Needs At Her Desk

By | Mar 17, 2010

Let’s face it, as executive and administrative assistants, we never seem to have enough space in our desk to keep everything we need.  Space always seems to be at a minimum.  It’s hard to keep everything we need handy and still keep our desks looking neat and organized.

So what exactly do we need to keep either on our desk or in a handy drawer?  Here’s a list of things I consider important to have easily available:

  1. Stapler and staples – Do yourself a favor and get a decent stapler. Also, make sure you’re using the right staples for your stapler and that you’re using good quality staples.  Good staples cost marginally more than bad ones, and you will probably end up saving money by not having to restaple your papers 5 times before the staple actually punctures the paper.
  2. Tape – While you might not need tape every day, when you need it, you usually need it immediately.  So keep your tape dispenser handy.
  3. Ruler – Rulers are handy for so many things: as a straight edge for drawing lines, as a guide for data entry, even for actually measuring things.  It may not need to go on your desk, but you need to have it handy.
  4. Tablet or Notebook – I live or die by my notebook.  I always have one handy to make notes and write things down so I don’t forget.
  5. 3-Hole Punch – Again, get a decent 3-hole punch, one that can punch more than 2 or 3 sheets at a time.  Remember, the punches get dull after a while, so if the punches aren’t replaceable, get a whole new unit when it stops punching cleanly.
  6. Pens and pencils – Keep a variety of pens in different colors available.  Red is great for proofreading, blue is important for signing contracts, and black is just your basic utilitarian pen.  Whether you keep them in a holder on your desk or in a drawer is up to you.
  7. Highlighters – Again, keep a variety of colors handy.  It’s helpful when analyzing data to be able to color code with highlighters.
  8. Birthday Gifts Under $50
  9. Post-it Notes – Have a variety of sizes for different uses.
  10. Post-it flags – Especially keep the “Sign Here” ones handy, but some plain ones in 2 or 3 colors are good to have as well.
  11. Dictionary – Granted, you can look things up on-line these days, but when you need to prove your point to the boss, having the dictionary right there is handy.
  12. Reference Manuals – Style guides, letter writing guides, industry references, whatever you need for the job you’re in.
  13. File folders – I like plain manila folders myself, but some people like to use colored folders.  I usually use colored folders for the ones I keep for the boss, i.e. “read this”, “sign this”, and “urgent-look at this immediately” type folders.
  14. Calendar – Yes, I know, we have Outlook on our computers, but I don’t want to switch programs every time I need to look at a date.
  15. Scissors – We always need to cut something.
  16. Sewing Kit – Just one of those little travel sewing kits is great to have in your desk.  You never know when the boss’s hem will come unsewed or a button pop off of his shirt.  Always make sure the boss looks good when he leaves the office.

These are the things I consider to be the bare minimum of  equipment I keep in or on my desk.  Everyone is different though.  What do you consider is absolutely necessary to have at your desk?  Leave a comment and let us know.

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10 Comments so far
  1. john mark (1 comments) March 30, 2010 1:36 am

    Yes true we need to be organize and clean we should observe 5s+1 so that we can locate and identify things easily like for instance our Tape, stapler, pencil, ruler and etc. Thanks you for sharing your great tips to us more power to your site! G-d bless 😉
    .-= john mark´s last blog ..Free Line Rental Overview =-.

  2. Office Supplies (3 comments) April 20, 2010 4:55 am

    Thanks for the list jodith, it’s amazing how many of those items I would have forgotten to get for my desk – especially the small sewing kit, brilliant idea. For me personally, I also like to have little colourful photo frames , toys and figures on my desk, just to make it my own and brighten it up a little bit!

  3. Georgia (3 comments) May 25, 2010 3:57 pm

    Batteries! So many items in the office these days use batteries. You or your boss might have a wireless keyboard or mouse, or any of a number of other things, which become useless when the batteries run down. Keep them hidden in your desk, as batteries tend to disappear. (Also, look into ways to recycle dead ones.)

    Know your boss’s favorite type of writing instrument, and keep a backup supply. Don’t wait until it runs out of ink or lead before ordering more.

    This is a great site for sharing info. Thanks, Jodith!

  4. Jodith (189 comments) June 5, 2010 12:39 pm

    Ack….batteries. How could I forget batteries. I always keep a hidden stash in my desk, since the ones in the office supply cabinet always seem to disappear over night. For every electronic item your boss uses, be sure you have appropriate batteries.

    And, of course, the pens.

    Thanks for the suggestions, Georgia!

  5. Clara (1 comments) June 11, 2010 4:44 am

    I have a lint roller for those pants that everything seems to stick to.
    I also keep a pack of Clorox wipes, for those times that they need to roll drawings or blueprints out on the table, and I know that someone was eating their lunch there earlier.

  6. Jodith (189 comments) June 11, 2010 9:08 am

    Those are great tips, Clara. I had one boss who had snacks for his staff meeting, so I was always having to go clean up the table after the meeting.

  7. tc@office space Jacksonville (1 comments) July 2, 2010 6:16 am

    Correct – space is of the utmost importance….

    Some people maybe able to find what they are looking for admist a pile of unsorted paperwork, whereas others need a pristine, organic space. Having a stress release mechanism helps as well!

  8. Vibration Plate (1 comments) August 2, 2010 9:48 pm

    Let’s face it, as executive and administrative assistants, we never seem to have enough space in our desk to keep everything we need. Space always seems to be at a minimum. It’s hard to keep everything we need handy and still keep our desks looking neat and organized.

  9. Hayabusa (1 comments) August 6, 2010 7:07 am

    For me personally, I also like to have little colourful photo frames , toys and figures on my desk, just to make it my own and brighten it up a little bit! you ‘ve got to keep yourself entertained eh!

  10. Amber (1 comments) June 20, 2012 11:23 am

    I know a MUST HAVE for me is a small container of hand sanitizer. Just make sure it isn’t to overbearing of a scent, also that you don’t work closely to anyone that is easily bothered by perfumes. As many hands as I shake in a day, this became a major necessity!

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