Be Prepared for Anything at Work: The Ultimate Guide

Has a completely avoidable wardrobe or hygiene fail ever derailed your workday? These tips will give you lots of ideas of products and supplies to keep on hand so you'll be prepared for anything at work.

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Do you ever have those moments at work where a completely avoidable wardrobe or hygiene fail threatens to derail your day?

  • You spilled coffee all over your dress, and the assistant regional something-or-other is visiting the office today.
  • You got to work, only to realize you forgot to brush your teeth.
  • You’re due to give a presentation in 10 minutes, and you’re so nervous that you’re pitting out your blouse.

Don’t let these events throw you off your game and ruin your day.  Stock your desk with some supplies in advance, and you’ll be prepared for anything at work.

Be prepared for anything at work… within reason

Let me just way this – I’m not blowing smoke at you.  I actually keep every one of the items listed below in my cubicle at work.  Let’s just say I like to be ultra prepared!  However, you definitely don’t have to keep everything listed below in your desk.  Choose what’s reasonable for you based on your needs and workspace.

Also, don’t feel like you have to buy all of your supplies at once.  That would be a decent chunk of change!  Start by collecting duplicates that you have lying around at home, and bring them in to work.  Things like a travel-size tube of toothpaste, an extra bottle of hair spray, or a few extra band-aids will do the trick for free.

Okay, back to the goods.  I separated my list of supplies into 5 categories:

  • First aid/medical
  • Hygiene
  • Beauty
  • Wardrobe
  • Snacks

Take a look at my lists and choose the items you’d like to have on hand.

First aid/medical

Pain and discomfort can seriously affect your productivity at work.  Having supplies on hand for when you’re not feeling your best can mean the difference between an okay day and a downright miserable one.  Here are some items you may want to stock:

  • Preferred pain reliever
  • Rescue medications for sudden-onset conditions such as migraines, asthma, allergic reactions, anxiety (Keep in a locked file cabinet)
  • Band-aids
  • Neosporin or other wound ointment
  • Spot blemish treatment
  • Cloraseptic or other sore throat spray
  • Pepto Bismol, Tums, or other digestive medication
  • Cough drops
  • Eye drops
  • Digital thermometer

When it comes to medications, I usually buy the smaller-sized containers to keep at work.  They take up less room, and I have a much better chance of using them up before they expire.

By the way, did anything on that list surprise you?  I’m guessing you may not have been expecting to see blemish treatment.

I’ve suffered from adult acne for over a decade.  Keeping a tube of my favorite blemish treatment at work has been a game changer for me.  I can deal with acne as soon as I notice it, rather than waiting until I get home.  As a result, my blemishes have a shorter overall lifespan.  Yay for being prepared!  If you also suffer from adult acne, I have 3 other tips you might like to try.


Ah, hygiene.  Perhaps the most embarrassing of workplace mishaps.  Keep these items around, and you’ll sidestep those, um, personal fouls (Okay, pun totally intended) every time.

  • Dental floss
  • Mouthwash
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Antiperspirant
  • Tampons, maxi pads
  • Panty liners (Bonus tip – if you’re sweating through the armpits of your top or dress, pop a panty liner inside the pit of each sleeve.  They’ll absorb the moisture from your skin, and keep it from soaking through to the fabric underneath.)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Baby wipes (I like the Charmins wet wipes)
  • Minty gum


Ever go into a meeting worrying that your hair looked greasy?  Met with a client when you knew you had a total unibrow but forgot to take care of it before work?

It’s natural to be concerned about your appearance.  You want to come across as polished and credible.  Plus, knowing that you don’t look your best can become a severe distraction mentally, keeping you from focusing on your work.  Pop travel-sized versions of these products in your desk, and kiss your workday beauty blues goodbye.

  • Dry shampoo
  • Preferred styling product (Mousse, hair spray, etc)
  • Preferred hair accessories (Ponytail holders, jaw clips, bobby pins, etc)
  • Tweezers
  • Nail clippers
  • Clear nail polish (Super handy for when you need to look polished at a meeting (no pun intended), or for stopping runs in tights)
  • Lip balm
  • Lotion


When you’re getting ready for work at 5 am, may not realize that your blouse is embarrassingly sheer.  Or the zipper on your skirt breaks after your lunch hour workout.  Keep a few practical items at work, and you’ll save yourself the grief of a wardrobe fail.

  • Socks and flat shoes (Very useful if your heel breaks, your shoes get rain-soaked on the walk in, the building gets evacuated, etc. 7 flights of stairs in pumps during an emergency?  No, thanks.)
  • Travel stain remover (Tide Pens are a good example)
  • Safety pins (Quick tip – if you’re pinning together a piece of dark-colored clothing, color the bar on the safety pin with a black Sharpie – it’ll be less noticeable)
  • Fabric refresher spray
  • Double-sided tape
  • Lint roller
  • A dryer sheet (Got static cling?  Rub a dryer sheet gently on the inside of the offending garment)
  • An inexpensive black or navy tee (If you spill something on your top, you can change into the tee.  Black or navy is better than white, in case you happen to be wearing a colorful bra.)


Ever succumb to the goodies brought in by your co-workers?  Those generous trays of cookies and brownies, while well-meaning, can cause issues.  They’ll ruin your eating plan and trigger a sugar crash, unless you’re prepared.

The solution?  Keep some healthier snacks and drinks on hand.  They’ll help you resist temptation from break room treats, as well as provide an energy boost when needed.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • 100-calorie packs – nuts, mini cookies, whatever you fancy
  • Unsweetened applesauce cups
  • Fruit leather
  • Tea (Keep both caffeinated and decaf on hand, if you’re a caffeine drinker)
  • Hot chocolate (My favorite during winter!)
  • Sparkling water
  • An inexpensive, microwaveable plate, bowl, and mug
  • An inexpensive fork and spoon
  • Napkins or a roll of paper towels


Dust bunnies aren’t going to clean themselves.  And in an office environment, all kinds of germs are landing on your desk daily.  Be proactive and do a little of your own cleaning to keep your desk fresh.  Here are a few things you might want to keep handy:

  • Disinfecting wet wipes
  • Small duster
  • Air freshener
  • Dish soap

What I’m saying

Whoa, that was a monster list.  And while these things do take up a few drawers in my cubicle, I’m definitely glad I have them when I need them.  Choose the things that would benefit you the most, and keep them in your stash at work.  What do you have to lose, except a completely embarrassing workplace fail?

What do you keep on hand in your desk?  Let me know in the comments below!


Has a completely avoidable wardrobe or hygiene fail ever derailed your workday? These tips will give you lots of ideas of products and supplies to keep on hand so you'll be prepared for anything at work.

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