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9 Items You Should Never Keep On Your Desk at Work

Why you should get rid of your mountains of sticky notes, excessive number of pencils, and much, much more.

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Leftover food

A half-finished food container belongs in the kitchen fridge, not on the corner of your desk. Aside from possibly bothering coworkers, crumbs and forgotten food could attract critters to your cube. To keep problems at bay, take food garbage to the trash can in your office’s kitchen, as opposed to the one under your desk. The kitchen trash likely gets taken out more often.

2 / 9

Tons of office supplies

There’s a reason you should try to keep office clutter at bay: One study by a Princeton neurologist found that the more stuff you have around you, the more each thing competes for your attention. That means it’s harder for your brain to filter information—a problem if you’re trying to finish a memo or focus on a project. Cut your office stockpile down to three pens, a highlighter, a marker, and a pencil. As for papers, develop a system for incoming and outgoing.

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Inappropriate photos

That hilarious photo of you and your friends at a wild bachelorette party isn’t the one to put on display for the entire office. Keep things tame: a photo of you and your significant other, your wife and kids, or your best friends at a ball game. If you wouldn’t show the photo directly to your boss, don’t keep it on your desk. These are the 50 secrets your boss won’t tell you that you need to know.

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Fragrance diffusers

Certain fragrances (think peppermint and lemon) can do wonders for your productivity and focus. And while it might be a great idea to incorporate these scents into your workspace, a diffuser is not the best way, especially if your colleagues don’t share the same taste in fragrance as you. Keep a small bottle of the essential oil of your choice at your desk. When you need a fragrant pick-me-up, dab a drop onto a cotton ball and take a sniff.

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Political items

Especially in an election year, it can be tempting to represent your favorite candidate with a button or sticker of support. But unless you work in a political office, keep your preferences to yourself. Don’t miss these 9 office mistakes to stop making ASAP.

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Sticky-note madness

A ton of sticky notes can do more harm than good. Sure, popping one onto your desktop to explain your absence, or writing a quick to-do least before you leave at night can help keep things in order. But if the entire rim of your computer is peppered with the things, it might be time to reconsider your process.

7 / 9

Personal grooming supplies

Items like hairspray, moisturizer, cleaning solutions, and spare makeup are fine to keep in a desk drawer, but try to keep them out of your main space. Your desk should help you feel organized and focused—not remind you to file your nails and add dry shampoo to your hair.

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Known distractions

Does having your cell phone on your desk tempt you to check your notifications every five minutes? Does your stack of magazines make you daydream? Keep known distractions hidden away and only take them out during pre-determined breaks.

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Unhealthy snacks

Mindlessly snacking at work isn’t so bad if you’re doing it with an almond mix instead of potato chips. Limit the foods you keep at your desk to healthy snacks that keep you energized. If you do need to satisfy a sweet tooth, dark chocolate is your best bet; research from Northern Arizona University found that the candy activates the brain to increase attention levels. These are the 17 things your desk says about your personality.