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A Clean Desk Starts With Cable Management, and Cable Management Starts With This Gear

Photo: Tomas Yates (Unsplash)

A messy desk is not a sign of a genius—it’s a sign of a messy person—don’t get it twisted. The fact that “great” men had messy desks, e.g., Thomas Edison (racist), Steve Jobs (asshole), Donald Trump (racist asshole), etc., doesn’t permit you to live like a pig.

If you want to graduate from your slovenly existence, I’ve got a few ideas on how to wrangle your wires and achieve desk space nirvana. And, yes, it does involve a bit more than getting your Funko Pops and books off your desk. (But of course, do that too.)

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Here’s what you should do:

The biggest obstacle you’ll face in organizing your workspace is the sheer amount of wiring you’ll need to get under control.

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Consider the power cables each component of your computer uses, plus the connections they make to each other (e.g., your computer’s connection to your monitor, your printer, and your keyboard). Before you know it, there are likely over a dozen wires crisscrossing and hanging around from your desk.

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In this War on Wires, you’ll need to pick and choose your battles. To make your life a little easier, consider swapping some of your current gear for their wireless equivalents. Wireless keyboards and mice are plentiful and surprisingly inexpensive. Sets start at about $20 and go up from there.

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In lieu of a dangling cable for your smartphone, pick up a Qi wireless charger. Of course, these chargers aren’t completely wire-free, but they’re cleaner looking, and won’t get tangled up.

There are many Qi chargers out there and I’ll recommend two: the one I use, this Anker Qi charger, and the one I wish I owned, the Twelve South PowerPic.

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While there’s nothing inherently wrong with your current monitor stand, it’s probably taking up more space than it needs to, and most offer rudimentary (see: bad) cable management systems.

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Monitor arms, like Varidesk and VIVO’s models, give you back wasted desk space, and include channels that keep your cables hidden and organized. Of course, most of these require a Vesa-compatible monitor, so you’ll need to make sure your display is up to spec.

Better still, monitor arms offer more flexibility when it comes to adjusting the position of your monitor, giving you a more ergonomic experience.

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After you’ve narrowed the cord playing field, it’s time to hide the rest of the wires. For me, diagraming where the cables are, and where they need to go can be super helpful in planning.

Cable ties, Velcro ties, and Rubber twist ties can help wrangle excess cables, while sleeves can compress and bundle lengths of wire into a single, more manageable cord. I also use velcro to tie wires behind the legs of tables to hide them in plain sight.

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While I’ve seen a lot of people use nails and cable clips to pin down wires, I prefer using on-wall cable covers. These look more professional, and won’t leave you with a lot of holes on your walls. These can even be painted to blend in with your walls, and work especially well to hide the wires on your TV.

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A few of you probably expect me to include those boxes which house power strips, but they’d be wrong. Those products just hide the plugs, while the wires remain visible, accomplishing close to nothing.

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Instead, you should consider an under-the-desk rack, or a mountable surge protector in tandem with a raceway. These products move your octopus-like surge protector or networking switch off the floor to somewhere they’re less visible.

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Alternatively, mounting tape is best suited for lighter gear, like small switches, and in situations where nailing something down is inadvisable (e.g. apartments, or a under an MDF desk.)

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A less cluttered workspace can make you more productive but, more importantly, it’s something in your life you have complete control over. I know there’s a lot here, the costs can add up, and it’s really intimidating to even start, but just tying up a few cables can do wonders for your desk, and your mind.

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About the author

Tercius

Commerce Editor at The Inventory.