Check out tips from myself and other organizers written by Paige Smith for Sparefoot Blog.
Chances are good you’ve amassed a large collection of electronics and tech devices over the years. Everything from early 2000-era CDs to iPad chargers. Save for shoving these items in a drawer or cabinet, it can be tricky to know what to do with them.
Luckily, all it takes is some realistic planning and a couple hours of your time to save your desk drawers from total disarray. Here are seven strategies for decluttering, organizing, and storing your electronics and tech devices.
1. Pare Down Your Stuff.
As with all successful organizing projects, it’s best to start by decluttering. Go through your desk drawers, media console, and storage cabinets to gather all your electronics and tech devices, including cords and accessories.
Jennifer Lava, a professional organizer and productivity consultant, suggests eliminating anything damaged or broken first, then getting rid of the old versions of your current devices, like your Bluetooth keyboard or iPhone 4. Do the same with other outdated electronics, like your chunky first iPod or sprawling collection of VHS tapes.
Next, get rid of anything you don’t enjoy or use regularly, Lava says, whether it’s an untouched e-reader or pile of empty flash drives. She adds that it’s also helpful to purge single-use devices — like a digital camera or mp3 player — if your phone or tablet has those same functions.
2. Create a Plan For Disposing of Your Electronics.
Tossing electronics in the garbage can be dangerous, and stashing them at the back of your closet only creates more clutter. That’s why Stephanie Shalofsky, an NYC-based professional organizer and organizing consultant, stresses the importance of creating a plan to safely and swiftly dispose of your unused stuff.
“For example, identify a charity or organization that provides phones to members of the military or abused women, and donate your old phone within a week of setting up the new one,” she says.
Another good option is to search for electronics recycling locations near you. Best Buy, according to its website, will happily take all your used tech, no matter where you bought it, how old it is, or who made it.
3. Pick One Central Storage Location.
Shalofsky recommends designating a primary storage spot for your devices and their corresponding cords, like a closet shelf, cabinet, or desk drawer. When choosing the location, prioritize convenience and accessibility as much as possible. If you backup your computer twice a week, for example, it makes sense to store your backup device at your desk instead of the utility closet.
“In any case, there should be a finite amount of space devoted to this type of storage so that you limit the amount of unused or old equipment that can collect,” she explains.
4. Organize By Device or Type of Use.
Sort your electronics by category, like everyday necessities, computer equipment, household technology, travel devices, back-up materials, or miscellaneous items.
Next, match each device with its corresponding charger, cord, or accessory, suggests Shalofsky — this will help prevent clutter and ensure you always have the necessary equipment for your devices on hand.
From there, sort each category of stuff into its own container, and make sure to label each one, says Shalofsky. To keep things hyper-organized, put smaller items — like earphones, flash drives, or outlet adapters — into cloth drawstring bags with labels.
As for cords, there are plenty of clever tools to help keep them neat, but household items do the trick just as well.
“Even using something simple, like a twist-tie, can help keep them from getting tangled or damaged,” says Lava.
5. Prioritize Safety and Efficiency.
Storing your electronics the right way will help preserve their condition. Your devices “need to be stored in a dry environment, out of direct sunlight, and away from excessive heat,” Lava says.
It’s also a good idea to remove potentially hazardous items like batteries and ink cartridges from their devices, she adds. These parts can be a fire hazard or cause spillage and permanent damage if they’re stored at the wrong temperature.
6. Set Up Charging Stations.
There are certain tools you’ll reach for once a month and others you might need access to throughout the day, like your tablet or phone. For everyday necessities like these, Lava recommends setting up a couple designated charging stations around your house so you don’t have to drag your cords and chargers with you from room to room.
You can use a stylish charging dock or wall-mounted phone holder, or opt for a simple tray on your countertop or desktop to corral your devices. This storage strategy will help keep your devices protected and make it easier to find what you’re looking for, Lava says.
7. Keep an Inventory List.
After you’ve finished organizing your electronics, Shalofsky recommends creating an inventory list of all your equipment and various gadgets. Use the same categories you used when organizing, and make sure to include important details if you can, like the model number, serial number, or date of purchase.
“This list should be updated on an annual basis and can prove valuable from an insurance perspective should the need arise,” she explains.