On Tuesday 9 November 2010,
You can tell a lot about a person by what they keep on their desk. From family photos to religious regalia, a few small trinkets tell our co-workers about our personality. They also have the potential to serve a greater purpose: making the office a better place to work. Here are a few practical items to consider putting on your desk:
Plants. You don't need a green thumb or an abundance of light to keep a small plant on your desk. Nature's filter will improve the office air quality and help keep you alert. Plus, studies show plants can enhance worker productivity.
The large seed in the center of a papaya can be turned into the perfect office plant. If you're botany-challenged, consider a spider plant, which are easy to grow.
Aromatherapy. One of the easiest holistic treatments is aromatherapy, the simple act of smelling essential oils for healing.
To keep yourself in a positive frame of mind, consider adding an odor or two to your desk. This can be in the form of an unlit candle, potpourri, or even a tea bag. Fight boredom with cinnamon, reduce anxiety with lavender or stimulate the brain with basil. Find the aromatherapy scent that's right for you.
Change cup. Give a nickel or take a nickel. Having change on hand is always useful, especially if your office has vending machines. Use the money for a late-afternoon sugar boost. You can also brighten a co-worker's day by sharing the coins. Or, better yet, save that loose change to invest in your career. You'll be surprised at how much change you can save over the course of a year.
A picture that reminds you why you work. Are you saving for your child's college education? For a trip to Bermuda? For that new sports coupe? Or maybe you're looking to pay the mortgage. Whatever motivates you to earn money deserves a place on your desk. If you're working so you can live in a house, hang a photo of the place in that home that gives you the greatest pleasure.
We all work for the money, but sometimes we forget what money is for.
Breathing Reminder. Ever find yourself tense or breathing shallowly? Conscious breathing is a wonderful tool to alleviate stress. Place a symbol in your field of vision at work that serves as a reminder to take long, deep breaths whenever possible. Better breathing is a step toward happiness.
Mints. A bowl of mints is a good way to encourage co-workers to stop by your desk (if you want them there). Part social catalyst, part public service--when you and your co-workers' breath is fresh, everyone wins!
Color. Offices have come a long way, but the majority of workers still toil away amongst grayish walls and fluorescent lights. Having certain colors within view can trigger feelings that make work more tolerable. Stay healthy by looking at yellow, calm by staring at green (like your new plant) and optimistic with orange.
You can pick up most of these workplace-improvement items on the cheap at the dollar store. You spend a lot of time at your desk. Use it to your advantage.
Andrew G. Rosen is the founder and editor of Jobacle.com, a career advice blog. He is also the author of How to Quit Your Job.