Tools for the Office by Beverly Delidow, Ph.D. & Meggin McIntosh, PhD

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Feb 1st, 2014
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What? Tools in the office? We know – most of us don’t do much repair or need to use power tools at work. Beverly says, “I actually do use quite a few tools on the research side of my work (including a wrench as big as my arm and a soldering iron), but that is not the typical office environment.” Even for the more typical office, though, there are a few small items it is really nice to have for those times when things just “come up.”

  1. Battery charger. There are a lot of battery-operated pieces of small equipment you may use – your wireless mouse, a labeler, flashlights (see #2). It’s nice to have a charger so that you can use rechargeable batteries, which saves you money down the road.
  2. Flashlight. OK, so I’m the flashlight queen; I have a flashlight in my office. I also have two at home, one in my purse and one in the car, too. There isn’t anywhere you can’t use a flashlight, so I do have them everywhere. I like the ones with the really bright LED lights. They’re good for almost any situation where you need more light or if there’s any possibility the power could go out. Even emergency power systems go down sometimes. Especially if you have an office without windows, a flashlight is a necessity at work.
  3. Screwdriver set – get two, not too big, one flat, one Phillips. These are SO useful. There are a lot of simple small repairs you can do yourself (like getting into the labeler to change the battery) that you may need a screwdriver for. If you get ones that are a nice medium small size, they will be useful for a wide variety of large and small jobs.
  4. Hammer. This is a nice one to have for those meetings that… Wait! No – not really. But it is nice to have a hammer for something that has gotten stuck and needs an extra nudge. Or for hanging a picture. Or even for mounting things on a really stiff corkboard that it’s hard to get the tacks into. And it looks more professional and prepared if you use a hammer rather than using your shoe.
  5. Tweezers or needle-nose pliers. These are great tools because they provide both grip and sensitivity. They can be used for handling items too tiny to grip with your fingers. For getting the tacks OUT once you’ve pounded them in. They’re also good for getting at any variety of things stuck in tight places – paper jammed in a printer, something dropped behind a file cabinet and you need a couple extra inches to grab it.
  6. Flat-nose pliers. These are the bigger, grabbing ones. Some of them are extra-handy because they come with a slip in the handle that allows you to have two grip-sizes. If your office is like most faculty offices, there are door knobs that come loose, drawer-pulls that come off, door-stops that get wiggly, and so on. You’ll find a use for a pair of pliers within the next few weeks is our guess.
  7. Duct tape. That’s right. Duct tape really is an answer to so many questions. Buy a roll and keep it handy. If the plain gray is just too pedestrian, buy one of the new bright-colored rolls of duct tape. (Beverly has fire-engine red duct tape. She uses it to tag her favorite tools so she can identify them when they go wandering!) You’ll find uses, we know!
  8. Super glue. You may need it to repair a cut, putting a broken necklace back together, attach a heel that has broken off your shoe (this is never good to have happen right before you head to class), or any number of other “attachment” needs you may experience.
  9. Tape measure. Go ahead and get one of the sturdy ones that will easily pull out and retract. You don’t want a little dinky one that gets tangled or will break. If you buy a good one, you’ll only ever need to buy one.
  10. A compact, folding step stool. No matter how tall or short you are, there are times you need to be a little bit taller to reach something safely. Standing on chairs, desks, table tops, or stacks of papers that need to be graded can be dangerous to your health! The academy needs you, so get a step stool to add to your office tool kit.

Note: Be VERY careful about loaning out these great tools. In fact, you may or may not want to advertise the fact that you are this prepared.

You can probably pick up all these items for less than $50 – 75 at a local home or big box store. We guarantee they’ll pay you back in added productivity because you won’t have to spend time looking for something or someone who can do “that” – you’ll be able to do it yourself.

© Beverly Delidow, Ph.D. Beverly Delidow is a professor, writer, and photographer in West Virginia. She has published articles, fiction, poetry, and photographs in a number of forms. You can reach Beverly at delidow@marshall.edu

© Meggin McIntosh, PhD  Meggin was a university professor for over 15 years and spent five of those years working with faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno.  Since leaving the full-time academic life, Meggin writes, consults, and does workshops for smart people who want to be more productive, thereby being able to consistently keep their emphasis on excellence.  Thus, the name of her company is Emphasis on Excellence, Inc.

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