1. Colorful desk organizers. I got the ones in the picture from The Container Store– one of my favorite places. I could seriously spend hours in there. It is kind of pricy, but they have good sales, so keep an eye out!
2. A Lilly Pulitzer agenda. There was a time I tried to get into using iCal, but I just couldn’t do it. There’s just something about pen, paper, and real highlighters. The well known Pulitzer prints and colorful pages of the Lilly agendas make scheduling more fun- and a lot less intimating.
3. A tote bag. Before starting the maternity leave replacement last April I bought a tote bag and had it monogrammed. It was one of my best purchases because it really helped me to be organized at work and at home (it makes a great beach bag!). I purchased mine from Lands’ End (they’re having a sale right now!), but L.L. Bean also has a very similar one.
4. Luna Bars. My absolute favorite (healthy) on-the-go food! The company is geared towards women, and against dieting. The bars not only taste delicious, but they are packed with important nutrients that women specifically need. The company has a variety of flavors, from Peanut Butter Cookie to Blueberry Bliss, as well as specific bars for protein and fiber. They’re a great pick-me-up for in between meetings or a snack after lunch. My two favorites are the S’mores bar and the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough protein bar (can you tell I like chocolate?).
5. Thank you notes. I really love stationary- but it can be expensive ($12 for ten cards? No thank you!), which is why I buy all of my stationary from TJ Maxx. They have the cutest cards at very reasonable prices. A pack of twelve cards and envelopes is usually about $4-$5. I stock up on these before the school year starts and keep them in my desk, because you never know when you’ll need them. Whether a student gives you a gift or a coworker does you a favor- it’s always nice to send a handwritten note with a personalized thank you.
6. Reusable water bottle. I’m a firm believer in drinking 8 cups of water a day, but that can be hard to do when you’re busy teaching. I bought the 32oz Nalgene water bottle, so I don’t need to worry about running out of water during the day. I like the Nalgene bottles specifically because they’re BPA free and the wide mouth makes them easy to clean.
7. Dry-erase calendar. A helpful tool I learned from the teacher I replaced on maternity leave, this one is for the students. You can find these reasonably priced ($12-$15) in Target or The Christmas Shop. Hang one in the classroom where everyone can see it to record assemblies, tests, and days off. Since dates are constantly changing it helps to be able to erase and rewrite easily.
8. Travel cups. I have both the hot and cold cups from Starbucks and I use them all the time! You can fill them up with your coffee at home or bring them in to Starbucks and receive 10 cents off your purchase! That doesn’t sound like much, but it definitely adds up if you tend to stop for coffee every morning.
9. Post-it notes. These are life savers! It really helps to have different colors too. I’ve found that if I always use the same color my eyes get used to that color and I forget about notes on my desk.
10. A to-do list. This is another thing that I buy from TJ Maxx (the last one I bought was about $3). They have a lot of nice ones that make looking at a to-do list a bit easier.