Desk-Hacking: 30 Tools That Will Give Your Career the Edge

Perseverance, hard work, and patience: three things that are the pillars of a successful career. But that hard work and perseverance doesn’t always payoff. It might be that the career you’re in is super competitive. Or maybe your boss just isn’t very forthcoming with promotions.

Either way, you need a competitive edge. To help, here at Armstrong, we’ve scoured the web, consulted colleagues, and tried and tested some of the best tools out there that’ll give your career a boost.


Whatever level you’re at in your career, expert advice will never go amiss. There is always at least one way that you can improve your mentality and your work rate – you just don’t know it yet.

To help ensure you’re making the most of your career we’ve rounded up a list of our favourite seven books that you should read to help take your career to the next level.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

The best way to become a success is to learn from those who have achieved it before you. Released in 1988, this book helps you change your mind set by creating and maintaining good habits. You’ll find it on the bookshelves of billionaires, millionaires, and CEOs around the globe, making it one of the most popular career changing books out there.

How to Win Friends & Influence People – Dale Carnegie

We all know just how important networking is in career progression, but that doesn’t mean that we’re all good at it. This book is hugely popular and can help you make and maintain connections that will help you build upon and improve your career.

The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace – Ron Friedman

This book is full of different ideas and suggestions that will help transform you career. It’s a super entertaining read and contains content like why thinking like a hostage negotiator can help you diffuse workplace arguments.

Design your Day: Be More Productive, Set Better Goals, and Live life on Purpose – Claire Diaz – Ortiz

Many of us, when thinking of ‘career’ think long term. Claire Diaz – Oritz in her book takes a different approach. She focuses on how you can be satisfied and productive in a single day. And you don’t need to change how you work, but instead, just how you plan. This way you’ll achieve more by doing less.

Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

Written in 1937, Think and Grow Rich is a self-help classic. Based on the successes of 20th century entrepreneurs, the book focuses on 13 ‘steps’ that will help you succeed in pretty much any career for fulfilment and finance.

Linchpin: Are you Indispensable? – Seth Godin

Seth Godin is perhaps, one of the most successful career coaches of the past ten years. His famous book, Linchpin, looks at how you can make yourself a necessary part of the team and nail job success and security for yourself.

The Up Side of Down: Why failing well is the Key to Success

You’ll never be a success in your job without having a few failures. That’s exactly what Megan McArdle explores in her book – how to make failing the secret to your success. Her tips are applicable to pretty much every career path, too.


With our smartphones we have so much power at our disposal. We can find out pretty much anything we need to know in seconds. But did you know that your smartphone can help you get on top of and make the most out of your career, too. We’ve rounded up our favourite apps that will help you on your career path.


We couldn’t write a list about careers without including LinkedIn. If you’re a professional looking to get to know others who work in your field or you want to show off your skill set, you need a LinkedIn profile. Download the app so that you can keep abreast of who’s working where and any new job openings.

Every hard worker needs a good to-do list app, and there are none better than It’s the ultimate to-do list containing calendars, reminders, and a planner, so that you can keep on top of your hectic schedule and never, ever, miss a beat!

Google Calendar

If you’re looking for a good, simple-to-use, and smart way to keep on top of your appointments, put your trust in Google Calendar. Its ease of use and intuitive user interface make it really easy to add events on the fly when you’re scooting from one business meeting to another.


Glassdoor is home to millions of jobs and their neat app includes salary info, company reviews, interview questions, and so much more. So now you can look for your dream job on your daily commute, from your bed, or underneath the dinner table!


Inbox by Google is an email app with a difference. It combines the functionality of to-do list apps with your emails. So now you can snooze emails until later, pin them as priority, and so much more. If your day to day role involves dealing with tonnes of email, then this is the app for you.


Getting ahead in your career isn’t all about working your butt off. Even the most successful people took time out for themselves. Headpsace is a mediation app that teaches you to just take ten minutes a day relaxing, not thinking, worrying, or concentrating too hard on anything. Believe us when we say that it really can reinvigorate you for the working day ahead.


If you aren’t looking for the next career changing book to read or in need of any apps to help boost productivity, then there are tonnes of websites out there offering career advice, too. Many of the blogs written and posted on these sites are quick reads that can be taken in and acted upon straight away. Here are some of our favourites. (For a more detailed list, check out our piece on ‘The Best Career Blogs to read in 2017’)

The Muse

Career Shifters

Prolific Living

Ms. Career Girl


Sure, old-fashioned books can really help bolster your career. And apps can help you stay on top of your game. But you’re also going to want to make the most out of the best tech on the market to give your career a fighting chance. Check out some of our favourite gadgets below.

A Fidget Cube

Do you spend a lot of time picking pens up from the floor that you’ve been spinning on your fingers? Find yourself annoying colleagues and distracting yourself by tapping and fidgeting? Enter the Fidget Cube. It’s a cube (as you probably guessed from the name) and each of the six sides have a different action or activity to help keep you from fidgeting while you work.

Acer Chromebook 14

We would all love to be the Macbook Pro wielding productivity kinds we see in coffee shops up and down the country. But the reality is that Macbooks are expensive. Enter the Chrombook – the simplified, affordable alternative. The Acer Chromebook 14 is a great laptop that’s light, and can handle word processing, web browsing, and emails – everything you need from a laptop on the go.

Desk Phone Holder

There are tonnes of these on the market and pretty much all of them will do the same job, so take your pick. The idea here is to remove the desire to pick your phone up to check notifications. Our phones can help productivity, but they can hinder them just the same. If your phone is propped up on your desk, you’ll see every notification that comes in and deal with them accordingly.

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 QuietPoint

Noisy offices quickly kill productivity. Don’t get distracted by the conversations going on around you. Hone in and knuckle down with some noise cancelling headphones. The Audio-Technica pair of headphones that we are recommended are the best on the market in terms of price, so check them out.


You aren’t going to have a successful day at the office without fuelling your body.[ And no, we aren’t talking about a bag of Haribo stuffed away in your desk drawer, here. We’re talking about keeping nutritious, healthy, energising foods on your desk for when you’re feeling low on energy.


They’re low in fat and provide you with plenty of carbs to tide you over to lunch time.

Wasabi Peas

If you’re craving spicy, salty, or crunchy, the best foods to keep on your desk are wasabi peas. They’re packed full of protein and fiber to help keep you energised.

A hard-boiled egg

If you’re going to bring a hard-boiled egg in, make sure that the people who sit around you are okay with you eating it at your desk. If not, head to the canteen. Their a rich source of protein which help satisfy that mid-morning hunger.

Carrots and hummus

Super tasty, super healthy. Snacking on these two at your desk will provide you with all the nutrients you need.

Dried fruit

This is the perfect snack to keep on your desk at all times. Full of fiber it’ll satisfy your sweet tooth, too. Just make sure you eat them in moderation, too much can mean you’re over killing it on the sugar intake.

Everything Else

We’ve covered quite a lot of tools and gadgets here that’ll help give your career a boost, but there are a few that didn’t quite fit into any of our categories. For those that fell by the wayside, we’ve created this category. Here you’ll find everything from the best notebook for optimum note taking to the coolest desk plant.

Moleskin Notebook

Most of our hot gadget tips to boost your career are tech orientated. But there’s nothing wrong with going back to basics. A trusty notebook is always good to have on your desk. Whether someone has rang you up with a job to do or a great idea has popped into your brain, you’ll always need somewhere to note it down. Our favourite? That’s the Moleskin Notebook. These classic notebooks are hardy, easy to write on, and made of top-quality materials (plus you can pick out one that’s your favourite colour!)

Pothos (Devil’s Ivy)

This type of evergreen vine comes in a wide variety of light and dark leaves. It’s great at adapting, too, so chances are, it’ll thrive in your office condition.

Vornado Zippi Desk Fan

Keeping your cool under pressure will get you noticed. But keeping cool in a hot office in the midst of summer will help you stay productive. The Vornado Zipi is stylish, safe, available in a range of colours, and is portable.

Klean Kanteen

Staying hydrated is just as important as staying well fed. But buying a new water bottle every day isn’t just bad for your bank balance; it’s bad for the environment, too. Enter reusable water bottles that are designed for their durability and benefit on the environment. Our favourite is the Klean Kanteen. You can pick it up in a huge range of colours and they’re made in an eco-friendly way. Not to mention how hardy they are!