The Office Survival Kit of Your Dreams

Stain remover and sewing kits solve little problems. What can save us from the big ones?

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The website Lifehacker is asking, "What's in your office survival kit?" Michael Wade of Execupundit.com (and one of our stellar Outside Voices bloggers) says he packs raw almonds and a moleskine notebook. The post that started it all, at SimpleProductivityBlog.com, suggests a quick stain remover and a sewing kit, among other things.

The fact is, we can all survive with very few things: a working computer, a decent chair, a phone, a pen that dispenses ink. But many of our work-related frustrations are the same things our parents and our parents' parents encountered. We're frustrated by dueling assignments and troubled by the challenge of prioritizing. We're frustrated by the austerity of our workspaces, and we feel the anxiety rise as we work to the tune of our own worries.

The following list is the "office survival kit" of my dreams (mostly):

Ram Dass. I'd like him to sit near my desk and whisper sage phrases like: "It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed."

A daily Post-it with my updated job description. It's no secret that what our bosses wanted from us yesterday is a bit different than what they want today. Job stress is often related to our sense of uncertainty about whether or not we're meeting expectations. If our bosses could just jot down some bullet points in the morning and stick them to our computer monitors—problem solved.

Priority sorter. This application would process every E-mail, phone message, meeting plan, or to-do list item and use some sort of ingenious, intuitive code to determine its priority. Throughout the day, I would glance at the list, see what's on top, and tackle that first.

Sensor lighting. As anyone who spends their day in a fluorescent glow can attest, lighting can really make a big difference. Short bursts of very bright light have been found to trick the brain into alertness when it tends to fall dim in the afternoon. However, short bursts of bright light might be a bit irritating after a while, so a little mood lighting might also be nice.

A "Mad Money" Jim Cramer Talking Bobblehead. This, folks, is no dream.

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