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Sort my tech! How to declutter electrical spaghetti

We live in a digital age – and with it comes a dizzying number of devices, wires, cables, adaptors and more.

Here, Katherine Blackler, the president of the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO), explains how to sort out your electrical spaghetti and device debris once and for all.

What’s this cable for?

If you’re staring at a tangle of seemingly unrelated wires, cables and accessories – particularly those you’re not using every day – first sort them into categories: those that relate to phones, computers, HDMI, cameras and so on. Once you’ve got separate piles, you’ll quickly see what you’re dealing with.

Are you doubling up on certain items, for instance, and are some obviously no longer required? Anything that is identifiable and still of use needs to be labelled and put in a marked ziplock bag. Everything else can probably go. This decluttering tip is great for avoiding electrical accidents, too.

Wait – I might still need it!

Many of my clients are apprehensive about throwing away all the kit and caboodle that come with various gadgets. Declutter your gadget kits by labelling and bagging up all the various components, adding today’s date on a Post-it Note, then pack away in a box. If you don’t seek out any of its contents during the following year, chances are you never will. And even if you do suddenly require a missing cable or whatever it might be in the future, you’ll almost always be able to track down a replacement on the internet, so don’t worry too much. 

Should I make any new-tech resolutions?

Definitely! As soon as you’ve unpacked your brand-new device, follow the same labelling and ziplock system as above, and pop in the instruction manual as well. Keep everything in one designated place. You don’t need the original boxes and packaging, but make sure you keep any official documentation, guarantees and receipts. If you’ve only been sent an online receipt or warranty for online purchases, save it as a PDF to a folder on your laptop/computer/tablet. Doing this will save you from having to declutter cords, wires, and other tech equipment in the future.

And while we’re on the subject, when you invest in new technology, make sure you update your contents and valuables insurance cover accordingly – it’s surprising how many people overlook this, and then come unstuck if something happens.

If you don't feel that you need a full Contents insurance policy yet, but you do want to insure your phone or tablet, try our Gadget cover.

What about keeping everyday devices in order?

A dedicated charging station is a great idea for keeping your tech wires decluttered and tidy, though you might need several around the house. Some organised people have a shelf or drawer specially designed with electrical sockets – or a hole for cables cut in the back – to charge items out of sight, or you could get a charging station box for your desk. You might also want to invest in power sockets with integrated USB charging outlets, which are neat and practical. Trailing wires can be tamed with cable management accessories like a cable tidy, cable ties or magnetic buckles, while having plug sockets installed directly behind a desk or work station (or fitted to the back) is an instant detangler. Also look into wireless charging pads, which mean you can dispense with wires completely for certain devices.

For tech items that don’t require regular recharging, decide on a proper home for cables – a box or drawer – so you always know where to find them.

What should I do with unwanted computers and gadgets?

Obviously, before you sell or recycle anything, you need to transfer important digital data. (For nervous technophobes, there are great YouTube guides available, or you can source a local computer shop or expert to do it for you.)

You can also do a good deed by donating devices and equipment. Check out fantastic initiatives such as the BBC’s Give-A-Laptop campaign, Recycling For Good Causes, Freecycle, Hubbub, and so on. It’s a win-win for everyone!’

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