Keeping Track of Your Cords and Wires
Step One: Unplug and Organize
Hard as it may sound, you're going to have to turn things off and unplug them, so power down your modem, switch off your gaming system and hide the remote control. It's time to take stock of your cord situation and see where you can improve. For example, maybe you're still using that 100 ft. speaker lead wire you bought for your old place, when your speakers only need a 10 ft. wire now. Or maybe you've unplugged and replugged things so many times that they're as tangled as your grandmother's box of Christmas tree lights. If you're going to improve your cord situation, you have to take the whole thing apart and start fresh.
Step Two: Replace for Efficiency
While you don't necessarily have to buy any new electrical cables to get organized, it might not hurt—especially if you're working around cords that are either way too long or way too short. Don't want to commit to a short wire, in case you change your mind later? A retractable cord is the perfect solution, enabling you to keep things just as long as they need to be without a bunch of slack taking up space.
Step Three: Labeling Your Cords
You know you've done it before: You need to figure out which USB you can unplug, so you trace each one all the way back to its device until you identify the one you need. It's not your fault that most cords come in neutral colors—not every type of cord has a distinctive look or texture like copper wire does—but you don't have to waste time tracing cords every time you need to switch out the printer for the scanner. Instead, get a few different rolls of colored tape. On each cord, wrap a piece of colored tape around either end and you've instantly customized your wires. That way, if you know you need to unplug your Mp3 player's charger from the computer, you can match the colored tape from one end to the colored tape at the end that's plugged into your PC.
Step Four: Bundle Up
Once you've gotten your cords reprioritized and labeled, you can start plugging things back in—but you don't want to do it all willy-nilly like before. Instead, start bundling up your cords so that they stay together. That way, instead of having a disorganized mass of wires running all over the place between your outlet and your entertainment center, you have one single, unified group.
Hold the cords together—groups of three to six work best—and wrap something around them to hold them close. What you use depends on your budget, the permanence you need and the look you want. For example, wrapping them with electrical tape ensures a tight, sturdy bundle, but it can be hard to undo in case you want to rearrange. Twisty ties from the grocery store, on the other hand, are a cost-effective and easy-to-undo solution for your electrical cables, but they aren't much to look at. Once your cords are bundled together, they look infinitely more organized without breaking the bank.
Extreme Organization Options
If that isn't enough to get your rampant wire situation under control, more extreme measures may be in order—but they can represent a significant investment, if you aren't careful. For example, if your Internet modem has Ethernet cables running all over your home, even a retractable Ethernet cord can only do so much. If you really want to tidy up, you'll have to invest in a wireless router. When you connect your modem to the router, it sends a wireless Internet signal to any Wi-Fi-ready computer in your home, eliminating the need for messy cords.
If you really want to clean up your television setup, you can actually hide your cords from view completely. This is especially important for wall-mounted TVs, because you don't necessarily want a bunch of cords dangling from the bottom and running down the wall. Instead, you or a professional installation expert can drill a few small holes in the wall behind your TV and snake the cords through them. The only downside is that you won't be able to access those cords too easily, so if you want to install new devices or rearrange your living room, it's going to take more time and effort.