Five Steps For Organizing Tech Clutter

I have two boxes of cords I’ve now moved from two apartments to two offices. You know the cords I’m talking about: those hookups you remember paying $30 for but can’t remember why/what they go to, so they are still wrapped up.

What do I mean by technology? At first, I wasn’t sure this blog post would have enough content in it then I started this list and realized even us so-called minimalists have a lot of technology:

  • Computers and computer accessories (monitors, hard drives, etc.)
  • Cell phones
  • Tablets/ereaders and accessories
  • Small electronics (iPods, FitBits, etc.)
  • Cords
  • Gaming systems and accessories
  • Printers, scanners, and copiers
  • Routers and modems
  • Electronics storage (CD racks, monitor stands, etc.)
  • Other supplies (different kinds of papers for the printer, blank CDs, etc.)

Step 1: Identifying Your Technology

By taking an inventory of what you have, you can catalog what you actually need in terms of chargers, connectors, and accessories. Ex: You may find a Mac charger that only works with your eight year old Mac that is now dead (true story).

If you can’t match an cord or accessory to a piece of technology, do something with it. Ex: I have ink jet transfer paper but a laser printer so those probably won’t work. Other examples:
If you have a duplicate of something, do something with it.
If something is unidentifiable, do something with it.
If the item is damaged, clearly do something with it.

But what, exactly? That’s what these next steps are about.

Step 2: Selling What’s Still Good (And You Feel Like Dealing With)

Now if you have something perfectly good you don’t need, you could sell it (ex: those ridiculously expensive Mac dongles, your backup external hard drive). Craigslist, Ebay, and Facebook groups are good places to start. There are also special websites just for electronics sales:

If you are an electronics enthusiast, you can also attend an electronics swap or organize your own.

Step 3: Donating What’s Still Good (And You Don’t Feel Like Dealing With)

If your technology is in good enough shape and you don’t want to go through the hassle of selling it, consider donating it to a worthy cause.
Here are some national programs:
Within the state of Maine, there is also:
When in doubt, connect with a local computer repair shop about what you have. They likely have an idea of what is going on locally and will know how best to direct you.

As with any donation, 1) make sure the item is in good enough shape that you would give it to your best friend and 2) make sure you wipe any personal data from the device; don’t assume the organization will do it.

Step 4: Trashing What’s Not Good

If something isn’t in good shape, it is time to get rid of it. Most communities have an annual e-waste event (our local Rotary Club sponsors ours) but you can contact your local transfer station about details.

Step 5: Labeling What You Are Keeping

Ideally now you only have the electronics you want, need, and use. Now it’s time to organize them so you never have to do this again. Consider labeling your cords and accessories, here are some ways people have done this attractively:

(Here’s where you can buy some labels on Amazon (note this is an affiliate link).)

Nicole Ouellette
Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she's not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

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