Cable clutter is the scourge of the modern work desk. Sure, we are trying to go wireless as much as possible, but there are still plenty of cords snaking around our desks. Let’s organize them once and for all.
Naturally, computer cable clutter is more for a desktop PC than a laptop. That said, even a laptop can have quite a few cables: a power cord, a USB hub for additional ports, and so on. And then there’s the charger for your phone, and other odds and ends.
You need to attack the problem in five steps:
- Hide the power strip and plugs.
- Collect and tie the cables together.
- Shorten cable length.
- Hold unused cables in place.
- Identify the cables.
1. Hide the Power Strip and Plugs
A power strip is designed for functionality, not for looking good. Yes, you should use a surge protector, but the resultant mess of cables is an eyesore. That’s the first place to start your cable clutter management.
DIY Shoebox Power Strip
The simplest solution for this is to create a DIY box for the power strip out of a shoebox. The video below has step by step instructions to make a good-looking one. If you’re okay with a basic box, then just cut holes on both sides so that the power strip’s cable, and the cables of connected plugs, can come out from either side.
2. Collect and Tie Cables Together
Now that the power strip is out of the way, let’s deal with the myriad of loose cords hanging around. First, identify the cords that are going to stay there permanently or for a long time. Collect them together and bunch them up. There are two options for this.
Zip ties have some pros and cons. Taking a cable out of a zip tie means cutting them all, and fastening new ones again. That said, given how cheap zip ties are, you can create multiple bunches of cables, so you can remove and attach a collection of cords at the same time. And there’s always the option of spending a bit more for reusable zip ties.
I prefer cable sleeves to zip ties, for the simple reason that you can also add semi-permanent cables here. A zippered cable sleeve holds all your cords together, and you can easily remove or add cords. And perhaps it’s a personal choice, but I think it looks a lot better than zip ties, since you get a uniform color. Unless cost is a factor, I’d say cable sleeves are better to conceal computer cables.
3. Shorten Cable Length
With the power strip box and cable sleeves or zip ties, the under-the-desk mess of cables is now hidden. But the cables sitting on the desk are still an issue. You need them there, but you don’t need them taking up so much space. The solution is to shorten their length temporarily.
The no-cost DIY solution is the Cablebone from Instructables. You’ll need a rubber mat, a marker pen, a cutter, glue, and a drill. Draw small bone shapes on a rubber mat, cut them out, and glue two together. You need the resultant rubber bone to be roughly a quarter of an inch thick. Drill a hole at both ends of the bone, and cut it slightly so a cord can go one. Now just wrap the cord from one end to the other, coiling it around the bone to make it as short as you need. Clean and simple!
4. Hold Unused Cables in Place
There are a lot of cables that you need off and on, but not always. Your phone or tablet charger, for instance, may not always be plugged into the device. And so it sits on the desk, adding to the clutter, getting tangled with other wires. Instead, arrange these unused cables in one place.
5. Identify The Cables
So you have all your cables neatly arranged. But while you get rid of the mess, this bunching up lost the ability to easily identify which cable does what. Don’t worry, there are simple hacks to remember that.