Guilty confession: I have a girl crush on Jenna Dewan.
I fell in love with her in 2006 when the Step Up movie premiered: Wanted to dance like her, wanted to look like her, purchased leg warmers and played the soundtrack on repeat, sashaying alone in my bedroom. Fast forward thirteen years and that sense of admiration still lingers, mainly because Jenna has evolved into the sort of woman I aspire to become. (We all want to be professional dancers with Channing Tatum, but Dewan’s current ideals of balance and sustainability are a lot more realistic to mimic.) When she published her first book a few months ago, I was quick to download it on Audible, and after devouring “Gracefully You” in less than a week, I purchased a hardcover copy for consistent reference.
The book itself is a topic for another day, but did want to highlight a section that really resonated with me. In the chapter titled, “Mind Your Business,” she wrote:
“It’s common knowledge in the entertainment industry that actors, musicians, models, and so on are able to make certain demands when it comes to their private space. You hear stories of talent demanding for their dressing room, only white flowers- or, more specifically, gardenias- or bowls of candles separated by color, or a plate of rare fruit. This list of requests is called a rider. For years I never wanted to give production a rider because I didn’t want anyone to think I was being difficult. When I started working on “World Of Dance,” production kept pushing me to present mine. In fact, they demanded one from me. It caused me to think about what makes me feel comfortable, at peace, and most creative. What would it take to create the most positive space for me to work in? It turned out this list wasn’t much of a departure from what I have at home.
-Framed photos of my loved ones
-An oil diffuser with energizing oils like citrus and peppermint
-Healthy snacks: organic fresh fruits and veggies
Having these things on hand truly did help me perform better at work. It gave me a sanctuary to feel centered and grounded amid the chaos of the show. I was able to focus on my job in a space I felt very comfortable in. Having healthy snacks around kept me on track in that way. I never felt famished, or had to think about where to get a quick bite when I should be memorizing lines. From this experience, I figure everyone, not only those in entertainment, should have a rider. Why not create an environment that encourages you to be the best you? Even if this only means putting a framed photo of your dog on your desktop, it will help you feel calm and connected to home.” (Gracefully You: Finding Beauty And Balance In The Everyday, Page 186)
After listening to- and reading- the above, I journaled about the ways that I could make my desk space more personal. I purchased a few items to round out my list and wish to share those elements with you here.
Photos On Display- Let’s start with an easy one: Framed photos always add a personal touch to any desk or office space. I use Shutterfly for easy phone to the mailbox printing (they always have great deals on prints!) and typically get my frames at Target, Homegoods, or even my local thrift store.
Desktop Diffuser– I have two diffusers in my house, one in my bedroom and one in my office space: They have become wellness staples after years of having Young Living Essential Oils as a client. Since I spend most of my day at my desk, however, I wanted to bring a similar sense of Zen to my workspace. I ordered this mini diffuser from Amazon and was hoping for the perfect mix of discreet functionality. For under $16.00, I can honestly say that its outstanding: Quiet, compact, easy to clean, and effective. That scent-infused stream of smoke is just what I need under my nose after a hectic meeting. My favorite oil to diffuse? Lavender calms the mind and is subtle enough for other desk mates.
Reusable Cutlery Set– In my ever-evolving quest to live more sustainably, I noticed that the trash can under my desk consumed my daily supply of plastic flatware. Our office provides complimentary disposables in the kitchen and I have grown accustomed to grabbing a set while standing at the microwave or passing the fridge to get my yogurt: It’s a second nature habit and I never really stopped to think about just how many meals I ate at the office. (Most times, two a day.) I therefore purchased this adorable stainless steel cutlery set from Amazon to eliminate waste and keep utensils within reach. The packaging comes in pink or blue options and reveals rose gold contents, both super durable and cute. For under $10.00, I feel good about all the straws, chopsticks, and plasticware I am saving and look forward to treating myself with these functional, beautiful tools.
Moisturizing Must-Haves– Keeping my favorite hand sanitizer, lotion, and lip balm on my desk ensures 9-5 moisture. I’ve posted about my go-to cream before from Earthbound Trading Company, and a simple Rosebud Salve balm in my drawer always keeps my lips nice and soft. It’s the smallest luxuries that make the most impact.
Favorite Mug– While some items on this list have been added for functionality, mugs are something that can be extremely personal. Whether it displays your child’s artwork, is molded into your favorite animal, or highlights a motivating quote, the mug on your desk should reflect something that brings you joy. Wonderwoman is there when I need additional strength and support with my afternoon pick-me-up.
Low- Maintenance Plant– Adding greenery to any room has proven health benefits and I love the look and feel of something alive and thriving in my workspace. I do require easy upkeep because 1. I travel often and 2. I don’t have much of a green thumb, even when I am stationary. This article has a great list of plants worth purchasing, and the lucky bamboo that sits on my sill loves to remind me just how lucky I am.
Mini USB Desk Fan- My office cube is by a window and while I love the natural light, I tend to get hot with constant sun pouring on in. I posted about portable fans before as I purchased one for my onsite travels, but I also keep this brushed copper 4-inch USB version on my desk. It turns on automatically every time I click my laptop into the docking station and keeps my area feeling cool, keeps me awake and alert.
Custom Mousepad– After I got married, I made a custom mousepad on Shutterfly and the beautiful photos make me smile every time I see it. If you have a smaller desk, this is a nice way to showcase pictures without cluttering your wall or table with frames and pinned printouts. Best part of all? They are cheaper than most thrifty encasements, on sale now for $6.50 plus shipping, and are extremely functional. (Way better than a mousepad received at an expo or wellness fair.)
Water Bottle- My hydration station goes wherever I go: From the car, to my desk, to meetings, it is along for the ride with my laptop and cell phone. I use the Hydro Cell stainless steel version that I wrote about previously; it’s only $20.00 on Amazon and is verified as spill proof, durable, and holds 24-ounces of H2O. Especially when I am on back to back meetings, this jug keeps me hydrated for quite some time.
Index Cards- This is a strange one, I know. Index cards can be purchased from the Dollar Store, Target: I just grab them from my supplies closet at work. But if I took a snapshot of my desk you might notice that I keep a healthy stack of cards on my computer monitor, well-worn and scribbled on. Whenever I travel or read or hear a good fact, I take out a blank sheet and turn it into a flashcard. This keeps me learning and well versed in the matters that interest me, unrelated to my day job. Sometimes I will turn to my colleagues and ask things like, “Name all five members of the original Rat Pack,” or “Tell me all of the phases of the moon.” We all retain the information through its repetitive nature and like taking the mental break from our Excel files and PowerPoint Presentations. Try it! Even if you learn just 10 random things a year- who knows!- Those may be the Cash Cab questions of your future.
There are many other things that I keep in my personal space, which is interesting considering that I have such little real estate. (Open Office Style Standing Desk, Chair, Roller File Cabinet, & Trash Can) But I do have a blanket slung over my seat, keep toiletries and cleaning supplies in my drawers, and frequently use the headphones in my gym bag. The above-mentioned items are just a little different, and significantly impact the quality of my day. Add these to your Amazon cart, Christmas wish list, or fill a gift basket with a few of these for your work pal or Secret Santa.
Do you have any other office space recommendations? Tell me about them in the comments below!