5 Essential Gadgets for Clearing Up Cord and Cable Clutter

A pile of dusty cables on your desk can be distracting (and dirty!). Here are some gadgets to help you find a solution for your cord and cable clutter.

When I decided to abandon my cushy office job and join the world of the self-employed, the first thing I needed to do was set up my home office. What many people forget about a home office is that it’s in your home, so it needs to look attractive. Where piles of dusty cables behind your desk in an office building don’t concern you much, they’re far more of a bother in your home environment.

IMG_0287When I set about coming up with a simple solution for managing my home office cord and cable clutter I had three main goals:

1. Accessibility
With no IT department hanging around in the basement to help me when my network cable came unplugged, I needed quick and easy access to all my cables, plugs and paraphernalia.

2. Minimalism
‘Wireless, wireless, wireless’ was my mantra. Less wires equals less clutter.

3. Aesthetically Pleasing
As you can see from the picture, my desk is in a very central location in my house, between the living room and the kitchen, so it needed to look as attractive as possible.

After a lot of trial and error I came up with this system for controlling cable clutter using these 5 simple gadgets.

IMG_02851. Surge Protector
This vital piece of equipment performs double duty, protecting your gadgets from electrical surges and keeping all your cables neatly organized. I opted for a Belkin 8-Outlet Surge Protector. The 6 foot cord and detachable cord-management clip, combined with the option to wall mount it, means I can keep the cables neatly tucked away and up off the floor.

I mounted it centrally under the desk and labeled each cable with a handwritten bread tie (an idea I stole from ThePhotographersLife via Pinterest). If you want to get a bit fancier, or don’t eat bread, you can find a vast array of ready-made cable labels at office supply stores for around $6.

2 & 3. Wireless Gadgets
I have a wireless keyboard and touch pad and a wireless printer. It is amazing how much cable clutter this reduces — easily a third of my cables are no longer an issue. And when wireless charging for phones and tablets is finally ready for primetime I’ll be first in line, cutting out another third of my cable clutter. I dream of the day where the only cable on my desk is that elegant Apple iMac power cord.

IMG_01484. Keep the Cables on the Table
Until that wireless charging revolution becomes a reality however, I will rely on this ingenious little gadget by Quirky. Cordies quite literally does what it says on the packet, keeping my charging cables on the table and within in easy reach, i.e. not constantly dropping behind the desk.

5. iPhone Dock

This was a bit of a splurge, but totally worth it as it does double duty as a stand and a charger for my iPhone, which is easily my most used accessory. I purchased a short lighting cable to connect the dock to the back of my computer so that I don’t have to deal with hiding an unwieldy charging cable. A good tip if you have lots of devices you charge on your desk regularly is to charge directly from your computer, rather than taking up precious space on your surge protector.

IMG_0284As you can see, the combination of the Cordies and the iPhone Dock, combined with Apple’s ingenious cord holding design, keeps the cable clutter at the back of my computer pretty streamlined:

Conclusion
I truly believe a cluttered desk equals a cluttered mind, and even if you have a pile of paper and cables off to the side of your desk, you’ll be surprised at how much having a clean, clutter-free surface to work on will boost your productivity.

Jennifer Tuohy is a writer who works from her home office. She writes for The Home Depot about the challenges of being self-employed and provides technology solutions to make things run more smoothly. To find a selection of cable management products, visit homedepot.com.

7 Ways to Be More Productive When Working Remotely

Working out of the office can force all your good habits out the window. Here are seven proven ways to be more productive when working remotely.

Unless you’re used to being in a new city every week, working remotely can throw all of your good, productive habits out the window. Simply being away from your normal environment is enough to squelch productivity and leave you feeling frazzled, stressed and out of sorts.

Here are seven proven ways to be more effective (and more productive!) when working remotely.

1. Schedule your day

When you work remotely, you’re more likely to attend business dinners, meetings, events and social gatherings related to your new work site and temporary team.

Plan your day to account for interruptions and outings, making sure to allow more time for your daily tasks than you normally would at home.

2. Ask for what you need

Do you require a large desk, a desktop scanner or a quiet workspace in order to be productive?

Don’t assume that the hotel staff or worksite manager can read your mind. Take a good, hard look at your home base workspace and figure out how you can create your productivity must-haves off site.

3. Use Sitedrop

Sitedrop is an app that lets you collaborate via Dropbox in real time. It’s perfect for working remotely because it lets a team of your choice access, share, upload, and comment on a project right from within Dropbox.

4. Scan your receipts

At the end of day working remotely, be sure to scan all of your receipts and beam them to your Shoeboxed account.

You’re likely to collect more receipts than usual working off site, especially since many of your expenses will qualify as travel business deductions if you’re staying overnight away from home.

Scanning at the end of each day will keep you organized and prevent receipt overwhelm at the end of your trip.

5. Work on the plane

Even if you rarely work remotely, take your cue from tried and true business travelers – work on the plane!

As soon as electronic devices are allowed, pop open your laptop or tablet and get to work. If you’re on a plane without WiFi capability, prepare your tasks beforehand by asking yourself “What work can I get done without Internet access?”

6. Anticipate non-work time

Just as you should always pack less clothing than you think you’ll need, you should always assume you’ll get less done when working remotely.

Whether you’re at a business convention or working from a satellite office, all of the new distractions and people will make it nearly impossible to be as productive as you are back home. Accept this and plan for it so you don’t finish your trip feeling like a productivity failure.

7.  Prep for your return

If you followed steps #1 and #4 above, you should be ready to return to your home office with everything in order.

If things got a little crazy (as tends to happen when working remotely), make sure to spend the night before your return getting organized. Look at what goals you accomplished, and what new tasks must be added to your to-do list based on what happened while working remotely. Double check that all receipts are scanned, and plan to give yourself a day off before returning to the office if need be.

How do you stay productive while working remotely?

 

Shoeboxed Around the World: Our Recent Trip to Romania!

You might know that Shoeboxed has an office in Sydney, Australia, in addition to our HQ here in Durham, North Carolina. But one little-known fact about Shoeboxed is that we have a few team members working from Romania!Shoeboxers Taylor and Anjana in Romania

We’re always trying to find the best fits for our team regardless of where they’re located, and we found a great pool of talent in Bucharest. Every year, our Romanian team makes a trip to Durham, or some of our team from Durham heads to Bucharest for some team building, brainstorming and coworking. This year it was the Americans’ turn to visit Romania, and we wanted to share some cool tidbits from our trip!

Taylor, Shoeboxed founder and CEO, and Anjana, our product manager, spent a week working in Bucharest with the Romanian team, Ionut, Dorel and Silviu. We’ve always been able to see the quality of their work and dedication to Shoeboxed, just never from up close! It was fantastic to be able to work with them face-to-face, as well as bond as a team while sightseeing around Bucharest and the surrounding areas.

The Shoeboxed Team in RomaniaThe Romanian team is a crucial part of our development department and they contribute in an enormously significant way to all the Shoeboxed features you know and love. They’ve helped build our awesome Evernote integration, the Shoestrings API and more, and we can’t wait to tell you about all the new features they’re working on now!

The best part of the trip? Getting to spend time with our co-workers from afar and being just as productive as if we were in the office, just from another country! Make sure to stay tuned since we’ll be announcing some amazing new features — joint efforts from our American and Romanian development teams — very soon!

Stay Organized,

The Shoeboxed Team