When a power outage revealed recently that my battery backup was kaput, I decided to get a new backup. I also took the chance to change and better organize the wiring behind my flat panel monitor and beneath my desk. I essentially cleaned up the rat’s nest that had taken form around my space – and untangle the mass of cables that attracted dust bunnies and an unsightly mess.
My new APC Back-UPS Pro 1300 seemingly came with a mental retuning. The introduction of this device didn’t just mean I had more time to power down devices in the event of a blackout. It gave me a whole new outlook on home office cleanliness.
Cables, cords and wires are the bane of the modern technologist. Neat and tidy as we hope it all can be, the wires that link and connect the lot often end up going awry – just like our best laid plans for keeping them from doing just that.
We’re not alone. But there’s hope.
“Organizing home office cables can seem intimidating at first glance, but it’s actually incredibly easy to do with just a couple of minutes of planning and the right products,” says Paul Holstein, VP with Cable Organizer.com.
First, take stock of the cables you want to manage, tracking and noting the directions that they need to go in. Then, he says, bundle them together accordingly.
It’s actually pretty simple. First, I closed all my open docs and apps, and powered down the PC. You don’t know what you’re going to be unplugging in the process of organizing stuff. Best to have all the power off.
Next, I had my Dyson DC16 Root 6 Handheld Vacuum Cleaner, a feather duster and a damp washcloth handy. I removed the old battery backup from the top of my desk and pulled the monitor away from the wall. With the Dyson, I sucked up all the nasties that had accumulated since the last time I’d cleaned behind there. Then, I dusted more particulates aside, and I wiped the whole space down. My allergies will thank me in their own special way.
Next, I broke out the reusable Velcro ties for wires and cords I tend to keep around for my computing and garage band cable needs. Holstein’s a big fan of Velcro (originally created for NASA to keep pens and the like from floating away in space capsules, shuttles and various vehicles orbiting weightless in space). Velcro One-Wrap wire wraps work like zip ties, Holstein says, but are gentler on cables, and can be repositioned and reused hundreds of times. I loosely wrapped cables and cords and secured them with the Velcro ties. This works wonders to tame errant and wily cables.
For his part, Holstein uses One-Wraps to attach cable bundles to desk legs and other structures. This way, “computer wires can be run discreetly along the lines of your office furniture, instead of in plain sight.” Another option: The Cable Catch. Affix the Velcro strap to the wall with its self-adhesive attachment, and create a secure, hidden home for running cables.
Next, I labeled my cables. Tracking cables beneath a desk or through a wire chase can be a fool’s errand. My former solution – pulling on one end of a cord to see which would wiggle on the other end – was ineffective. This time, I grabbed a Sharpie marker and a roll of white athletic tape my son uses to tape his hockey sticks. I affixed a short strip of tape to each end of every cable, and wrote the name of the device – PC, Monitor, Headset, Phone, Router, etc. – on either end. This proved an effective remedy indeed.
This was one of those projects that started in one place, then scaled to encompass the entire home office. Dust bunnies? Gone. Cables? Tamed. Storage? Organized. Clutter? Decluttered. I gave business and tech books I’d reviewed to the local public library. I sold old tech – some unopened – on eBay.
I even threw stuff that had been vexing my spirit for months as it sat idle on my floor into the garage.
Alas, that organizational endeavor will have to wait for another day.