5 Cable Management Secrets

power strip for corralling cords

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Wires and cables are the ugly afterthought of many home offices. By the time you've wired up your network, plugged in your lamps, phones, and computer equipment, and hooked up all your drives, phones, and devices, the floor of your office looks like a rat's nest. Cables and wires crisscross the floor, clutter your desk and form an unsightly trap for dust bunnies.

Here are five tips for controlling the cable and wire madness and putting your home office on the path toward a cleaner, more organized look.

  • 01 of 05

    Wrap the Wires

    cables bound together by velcro

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    There's no getting around it. Loose wires just look bad. The good news is you can spiff up your office quickly just by bundling cords and cables together. A simple twist tie, found in abundance in any electronics packaging, will make quick work of the mess. You can bind wires together or tighten up unsightly slack by tying off loops of cable. For larger jobs, products like Velcro cable ties or Q Knot adjustable rubber cable ties can pull together bundles of even the thickest power cords. Plastic zip ties are also cheap and effective, but can't be adjusted if you want to change up your cable layout.

  • 02 of 05

    Label the Cables

    cord with a label tag

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    There's a good chance you've accumulated a sea of power cords, USB cables, and Ethernet wires. Keeping those connections straight can be a heady task, which is why it can help to label each end of the cables and wires in your home office. Products like the ​Mini Write-on Flag Tie Markers affix to the cable and present a writable surface. For a DIY solution, wrap a bit of masking tape around the cord, leaving a folded over tab of tape to write the name of the cord on using a ballpoint pen or Sharpie.

    When you need to connect an external USB hard drive to a second PC or find the power cord for a scanner, it's a simple matter of reading information on the cable end, rather than having to trace the cable back to its source.

  • 03 of 05

    Get the Cords Off the Floor

    cable organizer at a desk

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    Some people's idea of organization is to push the wad of cords against the baseboards. It doesn't have to be that way. Consider a product like the Cable Corral, which attaches to the underside of a desk and provides an out-of-sight, off-the-floor landing spot for all the cords that otherwise waterfall off the back of your desk. Not only will the solution banish an eyesore, but it will also make it much easier to vacuum the space.

  • 04 of 05

    Keep Cables Together With Binder Clips

    feeding cables through binder clips

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    The humble binder clip used to pinch together those old tax returns can do amazing things for disorganized cables and cords. Clip some to the back edge of your desk and feed your USB, Ethernet, and other cables through the metal hoops in the clamps. The cables will be anchored neatly in a row. You can even trap thick electrical cords by removing the clamp and positioning the cord into the hoop, before slipping the clamp back onto the metal clip.

    When you unplug a device, the wire won't drop to the ground and be lost. You can even use jumbo binder clips to bind together multiple cables.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Corral Cords in a Basket

    cords stored in a basket when not in use

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    Getting fed up with the haphazard assortment of portable devices and their unsightly cords crisscrossing your desk? One low-cost solution: Plug an AC-to-USB adapter into the wall and run a few mini-USB cables into a stylish basket with inline handles. Then fix several small binder clips in the handle space to anchor the USB cords when not in use.

    When you need to charge a smartphone, MP3 player, or Kindle, just plug and place it into the basket, where it refuels safely out of sight.