What I actually use every day + the decoy pen pot

work desk stationery

First off, please forgive this rubbish photo – definitely not up to my usual standard but let me explain why… Yesterday I was sitting at my desk at work, and started to think about how, when I have SO MUCH amazing stationery at home, I really only use the bare basics at work. I thought I’d take a quick iPhone snap of what’s on my desk.

I’m a university administrator, a job that is very much based on email and spreadsheets, but I do deal with a lot of detail, things to remember and constant interruptions that mean that I really couldn’t live without my stationery.

So here’s what I’m using at the moment:

  • Muji Writing Paper Pad. It’s actually falling apart (and hasn’t lasted very long…) so I’m holding it together with paper clips and a mini bulldog clip!
  • Uni-ball Eye Rollerball in blue. This isn’t usual office stationery cupboard fare (usually the best we get is a Bic Crystal) but amazingly there was a box of these at some point so of course I got straight in there and nabbed one.
  • Muji Gel Pen, 0.38mm in red. This is to highlight things on my to-do list that I can delegate to someone else. Yesssssss.
  • Standard Issue pencil sharpener. Don’t really need to explain that one…
  • Palomino Blackwing. Obvs, didn’t get that one in the stationery cupboard! That one’s from home.
  • And post-its. So very many post-its.

The reason I don’t bring in all my nice stuff is that I’d always be petrified of losing it! Working in a busy office where academics and students are constantly at your desk, people will often “borrow” a pen to sign something, walk off with it and then be surprised to see me chasing them down the corridor to get it back (it’s “just a pen” after all). I also have another method: THE DECOY PEN POT. I can’t recommend this more if you work in a similar environment. All you have to do is place a second pen pot, filled with not so good stationery (the aforementioned bic crystals for example) and put that on the side of your desk that people approach (with your favourite items hidden safely on the other side), and hey presto, your nice things are saved!

You’re welcome.

Do any of you have similar habits? Or are you lucky enough to get to put all your lovely things out without fear of other people’s sticky fingers?


Oh, I have an almost pathological fear of anyone else even using some of my pens, let alone making off with them. When I worked in an office I would protect my pens fiercely, and I loathe blue biros (a hangover from University days and our course leader). I wince sometimes if someone writes in my sketchbook / notebook. I keep a pot of cheap biros (blue or not) for other people to use, delivery men, anything that needs to be signed for…

Posted 7 years ago by Belinda Reply

    Oooh, who on earth is writing in your sketch/notebook? I would freak out if someone did that to me – especially if they didn’t ask!! Good to know I’m not alone in protecting my favourites 🙂

I work part-time in a school office so random people sit at my desk to take calls when I’m not there. I have a decoy pot too – a retired mug. I fill it with any old pens and pencils I find lying around – they never stay in the mug for long!

I keep a couple of nicer personal stationery items in my locked desk drawer but I’d never bring anything precious into work. It’s a shame really because it means I don’t get to use my favourite items all the time, which is what they’re for!

Posted 7 years ago by Maria Berry-Lee Reply

    Yes, that exactly how I feel! It’s such a shame to not use all your best stuff!

I attend a writer’s conference every year (coming up this Friday, actually) and always come home with oodles of promotional pens, which then become my decoy pens. One cup of them in the kitchen, one or two in my purse/ computer bag, so I never have to lend out my “babies.” These pens, I give instead of lend.

Posted 7 years ago by Anna Bowling Reply

    Now THAT is a very sensible idea!!

Ok, once I was at Bible Study and someone needed a pen so I let her borrow one that I carry in my purse which is part of my Staedtler Mobile Office set that has a pencil, pen, highlighter and felt tip all in the nifty little plastic box they come in. We were wrapping things up and I tried to quietly tell her I needed my pen back-she said “What” really loud so everyone witnessed my demand to have my pen back-so embarrassing-BUT I had already had to replace one of those 4 prized beauties when someone borrowed one to sign their bill when we were out to lunch and didn’t give it back. I was not doing it again! My lesson from that-just say no when asked for a pen if you only have ones you can’t bear to part with. And no, I can’t bring any of my good stuff to work either which is where I would use it most. 🙁

Posted 7 years ago by Missy Escobar Reply

    Oh dear! You should NEVER be embarrassed to ask for something back! I have no shame in it anymore!! 😉 I have definitely lied a couple of times when a stranger has asked and I know I’ve only had a nice one in my bag. Ooops!

I just stumble upon your blog and what a find! I thought I was rather alone in my stationery fetish but turned out there’s a tribe out there I’ve been missing…

Posted 7 years ago by Felicia Reply

I just stumble upon your blog and what a find! I thought I was rather alone in my stationery fetish but turned out there’s a tribe out there I’ve been missing…

Posted 7 years ago by Felicia Reply

    Haha, yep, there’s a whole gang of us! Welcome!

I have a nockco brasstown. The roll out tongue contains my nice pens, the body of the case contains lots of ordinary ballpoints (the corporate branded type). Anyone comes to my desk asking for a pen gets one of these cheap torture devices.

Posted 7 years ago by Karol Reply

I work with a bunch of programmers, so no huge stationery demands unless we have a visitor. Nothing is left on any desks since my Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze was randomly “borrowed” two months ago. Now all visitors are told to use their own pen or do without.

Posted 7 years ago by mark Reply

We work with stationery every day here at Euroffice and have the privilege of being allowed to order our own stationery from the site, but when we order a box of Uni ball for the stationery cupboard it is always empty in seconds. We decided to try out other budget pens an came up with the best of the bunch here, take a peek and let us know what you think. http://www.euroffice.co.uk/blog/best-budget-pens/

Posted 7 years ago by Euroffice Blog Reply

(will not be published)