Work Desk Do’s And Don’ts: Yes To Huge Calendars, No To Floss

It’s where you do most of your work and offers colleagues insight (unintended or not) about your habits. So put a little thought into it and build yourself a better space to work.

Work Desk Do’s And Don’ts: Yes To Huge Calendars, No To Floss

Yes, there’s a growing consensus that desks kill creativity and will probably also kill you. But no matter how many walking meetings you take, you’re still going to come back to your desk like a jealous, jilted lover–so at least make the space a little more livable.


There’s a lot riding on the line: as Danielle Kurtzleben at Brazen Life notes, your desk is not just your “haven” and “launchpad,” but also what everybody at the office sees when they walk by–like your clothes, the way you outfit your desk represents you to the world.

So, Kurtzleben notes, your desk should be professional–and functional. Let’s go over a few of her notes.

What helps?

You need to make the most of your little slab of office real estate. So consider the following:

  • A gigantic desk calendar: Calendars don’t just exist on your phone–having one out here in analog space can be a big help. Like Kurtzleben says, you’ll be able to do basic scheduling at a glance. More importantly, it’s a tear-away doodle space.
  • Photos: Keep a picture of your family or pet or whatever, Kurtzleben says, so when you want to “slam your head in the cabinet drawer for a while” after a particularly awful meeting, you can have a source of calm. (It’s science! When you’re freaked out, give yourself familiarity.)
  • Disinfectant wipes: “For counteracting scuzz,” she says. Simple enough.
  • Terrariums: Square employees love little plant dioramas. Sounds pretty awesome.

What hurts?

Don’t give people reasons to avoid you. To that end:

  • Don’t broadcast your beliefs: No one really wants to know your feelings about religion or politics. In the ongoing polite conversation that is office life, you want to be anything but annoying.
  • Don’t use a treadmill: It’s weird.
  • Don’t do hygiene at your desk: Clipping your nails, flossing, brushing your hair–watching you do any of these makes us want to puke.
  • And please don’t be gross: This is why we wet wipe: to clean up all the crumbs and skin cells and other assorted scuzzeries that human life tends to accumulate. Wipe your desk down–you’ll be happy for it. Your coworkers will be, too.

Why You Should Dress Your Desk for Success


Have you made any meaningful changes to your desk? Tell us in the comments.

[Image: Flickr user Tim Fields]

About the author

Drake Baer was a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covered work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation.