Cable Management Journey, Started Out of Necessity
If you’re anything like me, you’ve noticed the cluster of wires all around your desk. At first, it seems like no big deal, however, over time as you add more accessories you reach a breaking point. The constant clutter becomes more irritating as time goes on, even at a sub-conscience level, eventually it becomes a distraction from getting work done.
The purpose of this guide is to help the first-time cable organizer understand the basics and be able to clean up their setup.
As I’m writing this, I’m brought back to a place in time about two years ago where I was feeling overwhelmed with life. To be honest, I didn’t even realize how much the mess in the office was affecting my overall mood and effectiveness. I came across a video on YouTube showing off cool desk setups, and it kicked-off my journey.
Over the next few weeks, I began to realize that organizing my setup was worth investing a few hours of my time. I started taking notes from other setups that looked good and began visualizing how to set everything up. Around this time, I stumbled across a video talking about cable management. Looking back, it’s weird, but I didn’t even think about that part I was just interested in flashy.
Decrease Stress In A Stressful Environment
After watching the video, I realized how much of a mess my work space truly was, and it had to change. The budget still wasn’t there for the crazy setup I wanted. However, it was obvious with some basic cable organization my setup would look infinitely better.
Over the next few days, I began re-arranging everything and buying the parts I needed to keep everything clutter free. After about a week I had everything looking awesome. Most of that time was spent thinking and planning, plus I wasn’t in any rush.
I remember the first day using my setup and realized my stress level had noticeably decreased and I felt more productive during the day. Call it a placebo, call it a feeling of accomplishment, call it whatever you want, but it worked for me and based on other cable organizers opinions it’s helped them too.
A Small Investment to Increase Productivity
However, that was just the beginning over the next two weeks I noticed I was slower to get angry. We all have problems with computers or issues with work but for some reason my normal ‘scream and throw stuff’ reaction was replaced with a monotone ‘that sucks.’ Let’s be real computer issues still suck, my life wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows, but the rage I felt around those issues had gone down substantially.
Now, a year later sitting at the same setup (with a few upgrades) I still feel the same way, cable management works! Sure, I’ve had my desk stacked with papers and had blow-ups in business, but I’ve found it much easier to find the motivation to calm myself down after a blow-up and get back to work.
My goal is to share my little productivity/anger-management secret with anyone that is interested. My sincere hope is you take what you learn here and apply it to your setup and you can reap the same benefits. If I can help impact just one person this was all worth it!
Planning the Cable Management Strategy
When you begin your project the first step is to plan where all the wires will go. My recommendation would be to plan it all out then sleep on it for a few days and make sure it still makes sense. My initial plan had to be tweaked a bit because I forgot I needed an easy way to charge my electronics, this didn’t even cross my mind when I first drew out the plan.
The first step is to determine where you will run the wires; the goal is a ‘wire-free’ setup where none of the wires are visible. This won’t be possible for some people due to their PC tower being visible or a cable from a mouse or keyboard. However, it is still the goal to keep in mind. I highly recommend turning everything off before starting just in case anything comes loose.
Next, hold your wires in place by hand to determine if they are long enough. If you’re like me you’ll find there are a few cables that aren’t quite long enough, take a note of the cord and the size you think you’ll need. You may also consider changing where the wires run if you are really close to making them fit.
Continue to work through all the wires until you’ve determined where every cord will run. It’s also important to think about phone chargers or other cords you use regularly. An iPhone charging cable strung across the desk can quickly mess up a clean setup. Cable drops work great for this, or running a cord inside a desk drawer is another great option.
Another important piece would be peripherals that are regularly used, for example, headphones. These can be a little tricky because you’ll need to cord loose for when you wear them but don’t want that extra slack in the way when you’re not wearing them.
Parts Needed For Cable Organization
Now that you know where all the cables will be running and what cables aren’t long enough it is time to order the supplies. I’ve included Amazon links to some of the parts I used and other popular parts if you order by clicking my links it helps support this site and me.
If for some reason that bothers you then you can search for these parts on your own. Amazon is a great place to order from especially if you have Amazon Prime, just make sure to check shipping dates because some items are shipped from China and can take a couple of weeks to arrive.
The parts that almost every project will need are:
Velcro straps or zip ties
My recommendation would be to use the Velcro straps because they are easily removable if you need to change out any wires or add/remove peripherals. Zip ties work great too, but you’ll want to keep scissors handy while you’re assembling everything in case there are any mistakes.
Depending on the item I switched between a straight adhesive and for items I might want to remove or have easy access to, a removable adhesive. Velcro wasn’t strong enough for most all of my items, so I just stuck with these two to maintain consistency.
The J-Channel will help hold up your wires and save you a ton of time with wire organization. For my setup, I decided against it, but it would have saved me a ton of time and headache. Instead, I opted to secure every wire individually, next time I’ll be using a J-Channel.
Power Strip Box
This is a very important piece if your power strip is exposed. It does a great job of hiding the cluster of cords the plug into the power strip. At the same time, it provides easy access to plug in and unplug items as needed.
Cable Cluster Wrap
This can be a huge help if the back of your computer is exposed. There is no way to get around all the wires coming out of the back of the computer, but these help to clean up that cluster. The one I recommend has a bunch of slits in the side, so if you have cords going different directions, it’s easy to manage them.
These are very handy for charging cables or items that need to be moved frequently. They attach anywhere you need and then let the cable move freely but prevent it from falling behind the desk.
These can be a lifesaver for long stretches of cords. They are strong and easy to use.
Extension Cords, Cables and Battery Backups
Most likely you will need an extension cord and a couple of replacement wires. Now may be a good time to consider a battery backup system. They aren’t needed until they are, and a small investment it’s good insurance that you don’t lose that important project because of a power outage.
Other Items You May Need
Depending on your setup there are other items you may want, I’ve included a few of the common ones. You will also want a nice pair of scissors, light (a flashlight is fine, but a moveable area light will be helpful when you’re under the desk. Of course now is also a great time for those extra accessories like LED light strips.
Cable Management: The Setup
After purchasing all the parts, you need it’s time to start setting up. First, make sure to shut everything off and unplug it. It is very easy to damage a component if everything is running during this process.
You can start at the back of the computer or the back of your monitors. Secure all the wires at both of those ends before mounting them to the desk. This makes mounting them a lot easier and helps create the path for the wires to run. Use the Velcro straps to hold all the wires together; one every 18-24 inches will keep them tight.
The wires from the monitor(s) should be run to the base and then behind the desk. If you have a wired mouse and keyboard, you should consider drilling a hole in your desk to avoid a wire running across the desk. It doesn’t work for every setup, but it will drastically clean up your workspace. Alternatively, you can switch to a wireless mouse and keyboard; this is what I choose.
Run the wires for the speakers and headphones in with the rest of the cords.
Now, you should have everything neat and tidy. The next step is to mount these wires somewhere out of sight, typically in a J-Channel. If you are like most people, your desk is against a wall, so this creates a nice surface to mount everything to and can hide a few imperfections.
Typically, you will have a trouble area or two; the 3M hooks work great for holding cords tightly. I’d recommend sticking them to the surface and allowing a couple of hours to dry before putting weight on the wires on the hooks.
Final Clean Up
Now that everything is setup the way you like, sit down in your chair and view your workspace. Are there wires hanging that you didn’t notice before? Is the cord too short for your headphones? Now is the time to fix all the loose ends (sorry for the bad pun).
Make sure to cut any extra zip ties, Velcro straps and wind up any extra cables.
Ideally, once you finish, you shouldn’t have to do anything else until you purchase a new desk or replace components.
Lastly, take a picture of your setup and submit it to us. We’d love to see your setup and how you arranged the cables, it can also help others that have a similar setup get ideas for their setup.
Now’s the time to get started, reading this guide is only the first step. Make sure to take action today and keep working on your setup. Even if you can only work for short periods, stick with it the payoff will be worth it.
Have any ideas to improve this guide? Let us know, and we will update this guide as we can. Thank you for reading and cheers to your increased productivity with your new setup!
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