Keep Cord Chaos Under Control: Cable Management Tips, Products and Ideas
Take the time to organize all those electrical wires in your home office with these simple tips.
If you have a home office, controlling all the equipment cords might seem like a huge challenge. But with planning and smart strategies, you can create a space that’s both safer and more attractive.
"When I go into homes, I see two issues," says professional organizer Lori Gersh, owner of Leave It 2 Lori of Calabasas, California. "There are the active cords you use around your desk, and then there's the issue of managing all the cords people seem to have collected over their life. Most people have a home full of cords and they have no idea what they are used for, but feel this need to keep them."
No More Tangled Cords
It's frustrating enough to have to dig through drawers and find a cord, let alone to discover it's a member of an intertwined mess. Keep unruly cords organized by using media boxes that are divided into "cubbies" with scraps of cardboard, like Jennifer Jones did for her home office. Label each section, so you'll never confuse the camera cord for the phone charger again, and give the boxes a bit of color by decorating the cardboard with scrapbook paper.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Jones
"Instead," says Gersh, "sort your cords and keep out the ones you use daily; store the rest. Avoid leaving them loose in a drawer. A better option: use a clear shoebox to hold bundled and labeled cords." You can also use cardboard scraps to create separate “cubbies” for each cord, like Jennifer Jones of IHeart Organizing did here.
"It's like any other organizing project," says Gersh. "You want to purge, sort, contain and label. When you're talking about your desk and cords, it really doesn't take that long to take control and label them — maybe 15 minutes or so — and the benefits are long-lasting." Here are Gersh's best tips for taking control of the cord clutter.
Because you're dealing with cords and electrical devices, consider safety before anything else. Never use staples or nails to secure or store cords on a wall. Also, follow the instructions that come with your surge protector, so you know how many cords can be safely plugged into a single outlet. "When you're using a surge protector, make sure there is no paper around and no cords are frayed," adds Gersh. "You also need to keep that area clean, since dust can build up. It's not just a safety issue, it's a health issue too. You want to be able to vacuum to remove the dust, and you can't do that if the area is cluttered with a bunch of loose cords."
Label the Cords
To avoid confusion when setting up or dismantling equipment in your home office, identify cords by using a label at the base of each one. This helps you match up the cord with the appropriate appliance or media component. "I like to use a label maker, or you can use masking tape with a metallic Sharpie to identify it at the base of the cord," says Gersh. "If you have other people in your home who use the office, it allows everyone to know what goes with what." Many people find that color-coding cords is the way to go. There are products available to help, or you can use bread tags as an easy way to identify specific cords for quick reference.
A label maker isn't just for office files. This magical little device is like the Swiss army knife of organization and can help with everything from meal prep to learning a new language.
Use Accessories to Organize, Conceal and Contain Cords
There are so many handy products to help keep cords contained, from trays mounted to the underside of a desk to pretty boxes for power strips to sleek socket covers that hide outlets while making them more accessible. There are also cable zip devices that keep all the cords together in a protected way. "It makes your room aesthetically look better when you bind the cords together," says Gersh.
This thin, sleek socket cover plugs into a socket and features an extension cord with a power strip with multiple ports. It comes in a variety of lengths and numbers of ports, and not only does this cover make electrical outlets look more discreet, but it also makes utilizing an outlet behind furniture easier. You can plug this cover in behind a sofa and, thanks to the extension cord, access the ports closer to an end table or lamp for easy access.
Perfect for appliances, this nifty cord wrapper sticks to the back of a slow cooker, toaster, mixer or any other appliance to hold the cord in place (and out of sight!) until you need to plug it in. Simply twist the wrapper to unravel the cord, and turn it in the opposite direction to recoil it. You'll never have to worry about cords taking over your kitchen countertops again.
Have you ever accidentally dropped your phone charger behind your bed or nightstand? To avoid dropping your charger and awkwardly maneuvering around large furniture to reach it, keep one of these discreet magnetic cord catchers on your nightstand — you'll never drop your cord again! The magnet catches your cord and prevents it from falling to the floor, so your charger will always be within reach.
Perfect for mounting TVs and hiding any cords that you have to place in a less-than-ideal spot, you need a cable concealer. This pack comes with 153 inches worth of covers as well as elbow connectors for running the cables both horizontally and vertically. You attach the covers to the wall to keep cords in a straight line and can paint the covers to match your wall color to make them blend in as much as possible.
And don't forget to toss cords when you get rid of old office equipment and accessories. Instead of dumping them into your household garbage, check for a local recycling center that takes electronic devices.