Back to Work Checklist
It’s time to get excited about getting back to routine after a (hopefully) somewhat laid-back summer! We like to treat it as a fresh start—a chance to get a little more organized, a little healthier (thanks to packed lunches and snacks!) and ultimately, more productive. We’ve got a checklist of things to help you embrace the work grind.
For the Backpack/Tote
- Stylish backpack or tote: No more packing your bag with heavy textbooks and homework piles (thank goodness), so style and comfort are key for the perfect bag for work. Matt & Nat and Pixie Mood have beautiful backpacks and totes that are all made from animal-friendly vegan leather. If you’re strictly interested in backpacks, Fjallraven, Toci, and Baggu all have more great options. For other functional tote options, check out Ogio’s bags or Buffalo David Bitton’s messenger bags.
- Laptop case: Some backpacks come with laptop sleeves built in, but the best way to keep your laptop protected on route is with a sturdy, padded laptop sleeve. Parkland Pilot Laptop Sleeves are available for 13 inch and 15 inch laptops and are even lined with fleece on the inside for extra protection. For other stylish options, MYTAGALONGS has sleeves in cute quartz, metallic, and quilted prints.
- Planner: Get a good daily planner, and treat it like your new best friend. With all of the meetings, deadlines, appointments, events, holidays and birthdays that happen, planners are essential for staying organized. Monthly planners will help you visualize the bigger picture—this cute unicorn planner will be a life saver.
- Headphones: Don’t forget to bring your headphones along with you every day. Listening to your favourite music on the way to work (or at work, if your office allows) is a great way to put a pep in your step and keep your mind clear. To avoid annoying tangled headphones, get an earbud case from MYTAGALONGS—there are lots of cute colours to choose from! For easier one-handed texting, try adding a Popsocket phone grip to your phone—a blessing for those times when you’re carrying coffee on-the-go.
- Sticky notes: Write down notes or reminders on sticky notes and stick them in your planner, on your desk, or even on your computer. Some offices provide sticky notes, but it’s a good idea to bring your own larger Post-It Lined Note Pads in case you need to write longer reminders or notes for yourself. If you’re conscious of paper waste, opt for recycled Post-It Notes—no new trees were used in the making of these sticky notes!
- Notebook: Having an extra notebook or two at work is a good idea so you can jot notes down in important meetings, or get your thoughts down on paper before typing them. Hilroy and Blueline have your basic notebooks covered, but check out Studio Oh! if you prefer cute and trendy prints like mermaids, plants, and sloths.
- Travel mug: BYOTM—Bring Your Own Travel Mug—everywhere! Along with water bottles, it’s one of the easiest ways to reduce plastic waste. Most coffee cups are lined with a special coating that prevents them from being fully recyclable, so just opt for a reusable one. Insulated stainless steel mugs are a popular choice—S’well and Corkcicle have beautiful tumblers that you’ll be happy to carry around with you. If you lose your travel mugs often (or they’re stolen from other family members), opt for one from Contigo or Klean Kanteen. If you prefer glass over stainless steel, try one from Keepcup.
- Stain remover pen: There are going to be days where you’ll spill coffee on yourself (better your shirt than your computer!) so arm yourself with the Tide to Go Stain Remover Pen. If you prefer a more natural option, try Method’s stain remover stick—complete with a scrubby brush to get rid of stubborn stains.
- Deodorant: Even if you have air conditioning at work, a stressful meeting or presentation can make you break a sweat! Keep an extra deodorant in your bag or desk just in case. For super quick fixes, try a spray deodorant or deodorant wipes.
- Roomy lunch bag: Keep your lunch separated from everything else in your bag with a lunch bag. The top selling lunch bag last year was Fluf’s zippered lunch bag—it’s spacious, made with organic cotton, and fully machine washable. This year, we have 2 new colours that are exclusive to Well.ca—purple and teal! If you have a longer commute or just want to keep your lunch cool, try a freezable lunch bag from PackIt or an insulated lunch tote from Built (made from neoprene—what wetsuits are made of!).
- Microwaveable bento box: The key to packing your lunch every day (or most days) is to mix it up! Try combining your favourite foods in a bento box—they’re fun to pack, fun to eat, and you can mix wet and dry foods together in one container without any leaking. Monbento is a customer favourite for their sleek design and high quality—plus they’re microwave-, dishwasher- and freezer-safe. Another microwave-safe option is Mepal, new to Well.ca this year! And how cute is the Mepal Bento in Nordic Pink?! Fuel is another new lunch gear brand that is very affordable, and their Food to Go Container is perfect for leftovers.
- Salad container: If you want to pack more salads, try upgrading your salad container. Sistema’s Salad to Go Container sold out last year due to high demand—the different compartments keep ingredients separated until ready to eat, and it’s even safe for the microwave, dishwasher and freezer so you can play with different salad types and toppings. If you want to keep your salad crisp on-the-go, try Fuel’s new salad container that features a snap-in ice pack and integrated dressing container. The salad on-the-go containers from Bentgo are another great new option—they’re fully leak-proof and can fit up to 4 cups of greens.
- Reusable snack bags: It’s time to ditch those plastic disposable baggies and opt for eco-friendlier reusable snack and sandwich bags. You’ll help save the planet while saving money! Colibri, Fluf, and Itzy Ritzy have fun prints on cotton zippered bags that are fully machine washable. If you have “wet” snacks like cut fruit or washed berries, try Russbe’s snack bag sets, (re)zip’s reusable bags, or Stasher’s silicone bags (dishwasher and freezer safe!).
- Natural food wrap: Store leftover cut fruit and veggies in natural food wrap instead of plastic saran wrap to keep them fresh longer, in a greener way. Both Abeego and B Factory food wraps are made with beeswax and are reusable for up to a year if cared for properly.
- Snack containers: To protect your snacks from getting crushed in your bag (or lunch bag even) opt for a snack container. If you prefer stainless steel containers, Onyx has great leak-free options. Anchor has high quality glass containers that are also leak-free, and microwave safe. For twist containers (so you KNOW they’re leak free) try Preserve’s food storage jars. For specially designed containers to suit different needs (like cereal, yogurt, or fruit) try containers from Fuel!.
- Water bottle: It’s never too late to commit to drinking more water! Water is essential for improving your overall health, and the best way to stay hydrated is to keep a reusable water bottle by your side. Choose your favourite glass, stainless steel, or sport water bottle so you can sip in style all day long. Well.ca’s staff favourites are S’well, bkr and Corkcicle. New brands that are soon-to-be favourites are Soma, and Hydro Flask.
- Utensils: The last thing you want to do is get to the lunch room and realize that you don’t have any utensils to eat your meal with, so always be prepared with reusable cutlery in your bag. Monbento MB Pocket Litchis are compact so they’ll fit just about anywhere—same with Onyx’s Silver Cutlery Set (which includes stainless steel chopsticks!) and To-Go Ware’s wooden utensils. Mepal’s Ellipse Cutlery Set even includes a spoon! If you’re feeling more adventurous, try a spork from Light My Fire—a spoon-fork-knife combo.
- Reusable straw: Plastic straws are slowly (but surely) being ditched in favour of reusable straws. Plastic versions create unnecessary waste and wreak havoc on innocent ocean creatures. Luckily there are some wonderful reusable options available like Kikkerland’s Rainbow Reusable Straws, Onyx Stainless Steel Straws, and Preserve Compostable Straws made from plants. If you like to drink smoothies, opt for GreenPaxx’s Silicone Reusable Straws—they have a wide diameter that makes for easy sipping! Keep your reusable straws nice and clean with special straw brushes.
- Healthy snacks: Keep your lunch bag (and desk) stocked with healthy snacks to keep your brain fuelled with the right kinds of food. Avoid sugar as it leads to energy crashes throughout the day (if you’re looking to kick sugar once and for all, read this blog for helpful tips). Nomz Energy Bites, SmartSweets, and Hungry Buddha Coconut Chips are all Well.ca staff faves.
- Multivitamin: A multivitamin is like an insurance policy in pill form. It’s a daily guarantee that you get the vitamins and minerals you need, no matter how busy you are. You can pick a multi based on your gender, as they have some that are formulated specially for men or women. Or you can opt for a more general multivitamin. There are also gummy vitamins or coffee boosters if pills aren’t your thing.
- Probiotics: Gut health and probiotics are having their moment! And for good reason—studies are showing that there is a connection between your gut flora and your overall wellbeing, which includes your mood. Get a happier gut (and a happier you!) with the help of probiotics. Renew Life, Nova Probiotics, and Genuine Health are all reliable brands.
- Collagen: Working, staying active, and keeping up with young kids can be hard on your body. Supplementing with collagen can help with aches and pains, keeping you strong, limber and ready to go. It also helps lift and tone skin and strengthen nails—so it’s also used as a beauty supplement! Upgrade your coffee at work with Bulletproof Upgraded Collagen, a tasteless, odourless, easily dissolvable form of collagen that our customers swear by.
- Pocket pack of tissues: Keep a pocket pack of facial tissues with you in your bag or desk to prevent runny noses or sneezing all over your coworkers! During cold & flu season when you need them most, keep them right in your pocket with Kleenex’s Slim Pack. If you prefer natural tissues, opt for Caboo’s Bamboo and Sugar Cane Tissues which are 100% biodegradable.
- Hand sanitizer: If phones have more germs than toilet seats, computer keyboards must be filthy too—so stock up on hand sanitizer. Purell has pump hand sanitizers that you can keep handy on your desk, or you can opt for a more discreet spray from Bronner’s or Everyone.
- Sunscreen: Even if you work inside all day, you’ll get sun exposure on your commute and even through windows, so protect your skin with an everyday sunscreen. Prevent wrinkles with face sunscreen—this year’s customer fave is Derma E Natural Mineral Sunscreen Oil-Free Face Lotion (SPF 30). You can even skip a step in your morning routine if you opt for makeup with SPF—COOLA has a range of high quality beauty options to try out. Not sure what sunscreen is right for you? Read our 2018 Sunscreen Buying Guide to help you find the perfect match.
- Cold & flu treatments: When you share an office or classroom or subway with so many people, you also share their germs. Protect yourself (especially during cold & flu season!) with any of these cold & flu fighters. To help prevent colds from ever starting, stock up on Vitamin C and oil of oregano.
- Ener-C: Ener-C will also help prevent colds & flus as each drink mix is full of vitamin C. It’s also packed with B-vitamin complexes, zinc, and electrolytes so it helps increase and maintain your energy levels while keeping you hydrated. Take one of these anytime you feel a cold coming to stop it in it’s tracks.
- Blister aids: New shoes are wonderful, but painful blisters are the worst—keep a pack of blister aids with you at work so you’re ready for anything. For high quality and discreet gel cushions that you can slip in between your skin and your shoe, try Scholl’s Blister Cushions. And keep germs out of existing (painful!) blisters with Band-Aid’s Advanced Healing Blister Gel Pads that help with the healing process.
- Lip balm: Keep lips moisturized and healthy all year long (especially through long Canadian winters) with lip balm. For a tinted balm, try COOLA’s Mineral Liplux (with added SPF protection!) or True Moringa’s Lip Whip for a glamourous shimmer. If your lips are chapped and need some serious help, opt for Vapour Organic’s Lip Conditioner or meow meow tweet’s Repair Balm. And remember, you can never have too many lip balms!
- Tylenol: Getting work done or concentrating with a headache is nearly impossible—thankfully, we have Tylenol (acetaminophen) to help. One bottle of Tylenol Extra Strength will help with any headaches, pains and fevers you might get at work.
- Tums: Drinking lots of coffee raises acidity levels in the stomach, which can lead to upset stomachs or heartburn. Tums Antacid Tablets offer the quickest relief. If you’re not a fan of the chalky texture of regular Tums, opt for the delicious Tums soft chews.
Just in Case
- Protein snacks: If you steer clear from protein bars at work because you associate them with working out, try protein snacks instead! Snack on cookies, nut spreads, raw energy balls, gummies or even chips for healthy options that will keep you full until your next meal.
- Disinfecting wipes: Keep your work area nice and clean with disinfecting wipes. If you want to keep it chemical-free, opt for Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes.
- Travel bag: Want to get to the gym more? Bring a bag with a change of workout clothes to work so you can go at the end of the day—no excuses! Lug has wonderful bags with lots of storage. Or choose a small duffle from Parkland, or anything from Baggu.
- Pencil holder: Want to colour code your notes with highlighters to really stay organized? Well you’d better bring a pencil holder to keep them all within reach. Kikkerland has a unicorn pencil holder that will make your desk area magical. You can also stash your pens, pencils and highlighters in a pencil case.
- Desk organizer: Looking to create the workspace of your dreams with an organized desk? Any of these desk organizers will help, especially the Safco Mesh Desk Organizer if you deal with papers, files or reports.
- Picture frame: Keep your loved ones close by with a cute photo in a picture frame from Umbra. Phone wallpapers aren’t enough when things gets stressful, so having a little reminder of a special moment will help give you a boost when you need it most.
- Shoe deodorizer: Nobody wants to be known as the co-worker with stinky feet! Keep a bottle of Shoe-Pourri with you to freshen your shoes up throughout the day. If you like to keep an extra pair of shoes at work, keep them fresh with Ever Bamboo’s Reusable Shoe Deodorizers.
- Hot/cold packs: Sore muscles are definitely not something you want to deal with at work. Hot and cold packs help relieve muscle pains and are more common in the office than you might think. For more discreet relief, opt for patches that can be worn under clothing. If you’re dealing with neck or upper back pain from sitting all day, try the Magic Bag Neck-to-Back—a top-rated product for quick pain relief.
- Reusable grocery bag: Don’t get caught at the grocery store without a reusable bag, it’s one of the easiest ways to help reduce plastic waste. Baggu’s bags are a fantastic option as they can fold up into a flat 5 inches by 5 inches pouch, are fully machine washable, and can hold up to 50 pounds (and they come in the cutest prints!). Dans le Sac is a great new Canadian brand that has reusable bags made from 100% natural cotton. If you have a longer commute and are transporting goods that need to be kept chilled, try one of PackIt’s new freezable grocery bags!
- Desk plant: Last but not least, a fun way to upgrade your work space and set yourself up for a better year is with a desk plant! No need for a green thumb either. Modern Sprout has great self-watering garden jars that will grow on their own—just add water and set in a sunny spot. That’s it!
September might not be about school for you anymore—but that doesn’t mean you can’t treat it like a new year and a fresh start! Bookmark this list to be prepared with everything you need to kick it off in the best possible way. You got this!