7 Things You Should Never Keep on Your Desk at Work


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Desk Disasters

Your work desk is its own kind of sacred space. The last thing you want to do is to leave any ill-advised items out in the open. But what exactly are these off-limit items? 

You'd be surprised at what fits the bill in terms of things you should thoughtfully avoid leaving on your desk. From grooming supplies to your personal keys, here are some items to keep hidden when you're on the clock.

EUR banknotes in a leather wallet
Aslan Alphan/istockphoto

1. Wallet

Your wallet’s main job is to safely hold important items, including your driver’s license, cash, debit card, and credit cards. In short, to leave your wallet lying around your desk is a bad idea. Even if you work in a space where you feel nothing but trust amongst your coworkers, you never know if someone outside of your company might make a pit stop in your office when the team is out to lunch. Even coworkers can be full of terrible surprises

The USB flash drive computer. USB flash drive connector. USB flash drive connection.
bin kontan/istockphoto

2. USB Device

By its very design, a USB device is built to store all kinds of essential information, like privileged data and proprietary company secrets. The last thing you want to do is to make it easy for someone to either intentionally or accidentally end up taking your USB device. Not only should you make sure to never leave your USB device on your work desk, but you should also regularly update it with new passwords for max security

Bunch of colored keys

3. Keys

Your keys can grant someone dangerously swift access to your home, private cabinets in your office, or even through the doors to your company’s on-site servers. Safeguard access to your keys by putting a specialized locating device on them, just in case you end up misplacing them. 

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JLco - Julia Amaral/istockphoto

4. Calendar or Personal Planner

Not only do you likely not want someone to see your various work and/or life scribblings, but you might also be someone who leaves notes specifically related to privileged work information in your planner. If another co-worker or stranger’s prying eyes got a hold of that information, it could end up creating all kinds of unwanted blowback for you.

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Ballpoint Pen Resting On Top Of Stack Of Documents

5. Paper Documents

It’s not uncommon for paper documents — think credit card applications or customer profiles — to be left lying around the office. In a worst case scenario, you could have a co-worker with malicious intentions for that information. Our advice? Make sure to safely stow away any important paper documents that you might otherwise leave on your desk.

Related: How to Get the Most Out of Social Security

Electric Shaver

6. Personal Grooming Supplies

You’d think it’d be common sense to keep your go-to nail clipper or nose trimmer hidden, but alas, there are certain folks that are in dire need of a “How-To Life Properly” instruction manual. Even if you’re extremely comfortable with your co-workers and practically consider them family, they still don’t need to see your personal grooming supplies.

Related: Cheapism Favorites: Achieve a Comfortable Shave With This Philips Norelco Beard Trimmer

Serhii Tychynskyi/istockphoto

7. Your Lunch

While you might assume that enjoying lunch at your desk is a surefire way to boost your productivity levels (and sure, there are times when it’s unavoidable), you could be greatly hindering your opportunities for creative inspiration. 

In a 2015 NPR article, Kimberly Elsbach, a professor at the University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management, said, “We know that creativity and innovation happen when people change their environment, and especially when they expose themselves to a nature-like environment, to a natural environment. So staying inside, in the same location, is really detrimental to creative thinking. It’s also detrimental to doing that rumination that’s needed for ideas to percolate and gestate and allow a person to arrive at an aha moment."

We'll take that as a hint to enjoy our overpriced salad elsewhere.

Related: 18 Reasons Why You Should Never Eat Lunch at Your Desk