Everyday Hacks

Tame that Technology!

Hacks for corralling cords, chargers and devices

A recent residential move found me face-to-face with the technology in my life and it wasn’t pretty. Staring at a pile of remotes, chargers, a couple of long-unused flip phones and a snake pit of cords that I had no idea which device they belonged to or if they even worked anymore, I was overcome with a need to reduce my technology clutter — fast.

First, the good news: you can recycle most of that old stuff. A quick online search will give you the names of local retailers and recyclers who will take old electronics off your hands.

Now, how to tame the technology that remains?

Curtailing cords

Cords and chargers are the bane of my existence; I think I buy a new one every week because one is broken, lost or an extra is needed for work, school or travel. The challenge is to keep these cords with the devices they belong to and in good working order.

That’s how 1-inch binder clips become miracle organizers:

• Loop the cord several times around the three middle fingers of your hand. Pinch the loops together in the middle and attach the clip over the cords. Label the clip with the name of the device the cord belongs to (see picture in gallery).

• The same binder clip can hold the charging cord in place while you charge your device. Thread the end of the cord that plugs into the device through the handles of the clip. Attach the clip to the edge of a desk or counter.

Hanging charging station

Taming my teen’s technology was the next hurdle. A small plastic basket we hung on the wall with adhesive wall hooks near his bed became a charging station. An extension cord runs from a nearby outlet into the basket, allowing my son to charge his phone plus store his earbuds (so I don’t wash them for 20th time), eyeglasses and other necessities (see picture in gallery).

Spring protection

One of the first places a charger cord will go bad is at the junction of the connector that plugs into the device. I’m guilty of plugging in my phone or tablet and then resting it on a table, letting the charging cord hang off into space, which a tech employee told me was probably one of the reasons I have to replace so many chargers. To protect your cable, wrap a spring from a ballpoint pen around the connector and the cord to help keep the cord straight and cut down on wear and tear (see picture in gallery).

Corralling chargers

No doubt, you’ve got phones, tablets, MP3 players, portable speakers and a gaggle of other devices that need to be charged, resulting in chargers protruding from every electrical outlet visible. Make a central charging location for smaller devices: place an electrical power strip in a drawer of a cabinet, dresser or nightstand and plug chargers into the power strip. In the evening, after attaching the devices to their chargers, tuck them inside the drawer. Not only are they charged and ready to go the next morning, but they are all in one easy place to find (see picture in gallery).

Amplify your alarm

Like many people, I use my smartphone as an alarm clock but sometimes have trouble hearing it in the sleepy hours of the morning.

Amplify the alarm’s sound by stashing your phone speaker-side down in an empty glass or coffee mug next to your bed. This also works as a cheap and easy speaker if you like to listen to music as you’re working around the house (see picture in gallery).

Label cords

As I settled into my new home workspace, I put masking tape labels on all the cords plugged into my power strip, folding the tape over and writing “printer” and “laptop” on the appropriate electrical cords with a Sharpie so next time I’m crawling on the floor wondering what cord goes with what device, the search will go much faster (see picture in gallery).

So, cords tamed, tech organized, desk and bedroom no longer looking like a snake pit, I am feeling pretty accomplished and ready to work — until I realize I’ve forgotten the password to my computer.

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The Miracle Organizer: 1-inch Binder Clip

Not only can you use this standard office staple to keep cords from unraveling but you can also use the clip to hold your device's charging cord in place while you charge your device.

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