Tell me you never hang on to useless, obsolete clutter and I'll ask you to show me where you keep your electronics' cords. Yes, I have one of those baskets too. I manage to wrap them up sort of nicely most of the time, but do I know what all of them are for? No. Yet I shuffle back through the nest every time I need to charge my Kindle or headphones.
This weekend, we're going to conquer our cord clutter: the cords we use every day, the ones that stay plugged in but are hanging out all over the place, and the ones we have no idea about but hang on to like they're valuable relics.
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This Weekend's Assignment:
Tame your cord clutter.
Step 1: Gather All Your Cords
First, we're going to address all the loose cords, ones that aren't attached to or plugged into anything. First, pick an area big enough to lay out all your cords and chargers. This could be the kitchen table, a bed, or a cleared out area on the floor.
Then, collect all the cords you have, gathering them together into the one spot. Check desk drawers, boxes in the garage, etc. Untangle them and wrap them loosely into their own individual piles (wrapping cords too tightly can damage the inner wires). To hold cords in neat, safe bundles check out these velcro cord ties or these reusable fastening cables (or make your own from Washi tape).
Step 2: Label Your Cords
Before you can label your cords, you have to know what they're for. Start with the cords that are plugged in, including the many cords involved in your computer and entertainment setups. If you have a charging station of some sort, label these cords as well. Try to keep the labels near the ends of the cords so that if and when they are concealed, you know what the cords go to.
You can use a label maker (Editor's note: I own and LOVE this one) or something like bread tags marked with Sharpies. If you'd rather buy than DIY, these candy-looking cord identifiers are fun and would be ideal for a charging station, and this elegant option keeps the labels tight against the cords themselves.
After labeling your plugged-in cords, go back to the array that you've gathered on the table or bed. Label everything you know and then move on to the orphan cords. Ask the other members of your household if the cords are theirs or if they know what they go to. If you don't get any definitive answers, you can either dispose of them (properly) or continue to keep them just in case.
Remember that anything new you buy will most likely come with its own cables. If you decide to keep extra cords anyway, make sure they are distinguishable from the cords that go with current devices, and keep them in a separate container. This way, when you need a cord to fill up the portable chargers for your trip or to plug in that back up external hard drive, you'll be able to find it right away.
Step 3: Organize Your Cords
Those unsightly tangles of cords that dangle behind your TV or around your desk require the most consideration. Sometimes simply being thoughtful about how you trail your cords makes a huge difference in how neat they look; for instance, could you thread your laptop cord behind your desk instead of having it dangle in front?
Of course, there are nifty products you can buy to corral cords, from zip cables to tie them together, to cable management sleeves for cords that hang behind a desk or console and cable management boxes that camouflage cords in a hub-like configuration.
For a more built-in look for cords that trail down a wall, try installing cord covers painted in the same color as your wall. If you're a homeowner and feeling extra ambitious, you can undertake a project to totally hide cords on the inside of your wall.
We're all so used to seeing the cord clutter in our own homes, but taming the electrical rats' nests will make a welcome, palpable difference in our home's feeling of serenity.
Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we've sent you, or tackle another project you've been meaning to get to. It's also completely okay to skip a weekend if you're busy or not feeling the assignment.