Ways to Get Rid of Tech Clutter

@pradiptafelix / Twenty20

Getting rid of your tech clutter can seem tricky because we never know when we might need that wire or that user manual. More importantly, we do not want to take the time to solve these mysteries. We have too many other things to get done.

If you’re embracing minimalism or the Konmari method, you may start with your wardrobe or your kitchen, but you’ll find that tech clutter–all of those user manuals, wires, cables, CDs, DVDs, games, remotes and installation discs that you never touch–are creating a clutter jam of themselves–one that is frankly, ugly, and taking up too much space in your drawers and closets.

But here’s the good news: Most of that tech clutter you can get rid of through recycling. Some you need to keep, and some you’ll be pleased to know may even make your life easier. Going through the process of decluttering your tech “junk” may turn up old chargers you thought were missing–so you don’t have to buy a new one–help you find the missing piece in getting that old speaker to work again, or clue you in on how to get your DVD player to actually connect to your TV.

Declutter Your Tech Gadgets and Their Accessories

In order to properly declutter your tech, you really need to gather it all into one place to figure out what goes with what, in addition to what works and what doesn’t work.

Tech clutter comes in many forms. Here’s a list of what to look for:

  • Bluetooth Speakers
  • Cables, Chargers and Wires
  • Cameras
  • CDs, DVDs, Installation Discs
  • Computer
  • Computer Accessories (external hard drives, mice, keyboards, etc.)
  • Gaming Equipment
  • Remote Controls
  • Stereo Parts
  • User Manuals

Grab anything that you consider tech, then go through each piece and figure out if you need it or not.

  • If it’s a cord or charger, what does it plug into? Are you keeping what it plugs into?
  • If it’s a piece of tech, do you still need or want it? If so, does it work? Do you have the right cord or charger? If it’s an old Bluetooth speaker but you just bought a Sonos, do you need it? Maybe you’ll use the speaker for travel? Figure out what you want to keep.
  • If it’s a user manual or installation disc, do you still own the item? If you have TurboTax 2006 installed on your computer, but you’re now using the online version, you can toss that disc.

Organize everything into two piles:

  1. Keep
  2. Recycle

Once you've decided what you're keeping and what you're tossing, it's time to organize everything you've decided to keep.

Store User Manuals in the Cloud or a Household File

Ugh. User manuals are the worst type of clutter. You know you may need them one day, but you’re not sure when. They are often bulky or oddly-sized, which makes them hard to store.

Here are two ways to store them:

  1. Bookmark manuals online or save them to your Evernote. This way you can simply search for them on your computer.
  2. If you must keep a hard copy in your possession, store them in your household file for easy retrieval.

An alternative to keeping or bookmarking the user manual is to search on YouTube. There are millions of videos showing you how to use pretty much every piece of tech you have in your home or office.

Recycle Tech Gadgets and Equipment

Your best bet for recycling tech gadgets and equipment like stereos, televisions, and DVD players is via Best Buy. The superstore will take back your tech gear and appliances whether you bought them through Best Buy or not. This includes home appliances, computers, stereo systems, televisions, cameras, mobile phones, toner, cartridges and gaming equipment.

Another option is to take advantage of your town or city’s “dump day.” However, since dump days only come around a few times a year, Best Buy may be a more convenient recycling option for you.

Recycle CDs and Installation Discs

Installation disks seem so 1994, but some people prefer to hold onto their installation discs for various reasons. Maybe they’re not sure they’re going to like the latest download of a software program and want to be able to reinstall the previous version via their installation disc. Or maybe they just like to know they can reinstall the software if their computer crashes.

Technically, you don’t need to save these discs, but if you do, they are relatively easy to store. This Nylon CD/DVD case is small and budget-friendly and can hold up to 128 CDs.

Do you need to hang onto those old TurboTax installation discs? At this point, no. You can use the online version instead of the discs. But before you delete any TurboTax software off of your computer, make sure you’ve saved your personal information. In the case of Turbo Tax, this would be your .tax file.

You can recycle CDs and Installation Discs at the CD Recycling Center.

Store Cameras, Video Cameras and Drones in Camera Bags

If you decide to get rid of cameras, camcorders or drones and would prefer to sell them rather than recycle them, Amazon has a trade-in program for most photographic and video gear. Simply search for the item, and you can find a buyback price right on the product page.

For cameras you are keeping, the best way to store them is in a camera bag. This makes them easier to grab-and-go, and most camera bags are designed with pockets to hold all of those little bells and whistles like chargers, lenses and battery packs.

Label and Store Wires, Chargers and Cords

Frankly, tech clutter is unattractive, especially if you’re trying to keep a minimalist home vibe going. So when in doubt, store wires, cords and chargers in drawers or bins–not out in the open. If you’re using a drawer to store your wires and chargers, use a drawer divider to keep them separated and easy to find. Once you’ve identified which wires and charges go with each piece of tech equipment, label them.

Set Up A Tech Charging Station

For the tech you decide to keep, you’ve got to make sure you store it in a logical fashion. For small pieces of everyday tech like iPhones, Droids or Kindles, set up a charging and storage station. Much like your launchpad, a tech station functions as a home base for all of your phones, cameras, Bluetooth speakers, iPods, FitBits and the like when not in use.

This USB Hub is perfect for plugging in several gadgets at once. You can either plug this into an outlet or plug it into your desktop or laptop computer.

Decluttering, recycling and organizing your tech clutter can be a pain, but once you’ve got everything sorted, you’ll be glad you invested your time in this project.