The 5-Step Guide To Perfect Under Desk Cable Management
Cable management might be something that you’ve never really given much thought to. After all, it’s easy to get a new computer, lamp, or other electronic item, plug it in at your desk, and never think about it again…until you’ve done this a few times and need to unplug one of them or move your desk, only to find you’ve got an absolute mess on your hands.
Or perhaps you’ve just purchased a new desk and computer setup and want it to look as swanky as a stock photo, but you have no idea where to start. Where do all of those cables go? Are the electronics in that stock image you’re trying to emulate even plugged in?
The answer, in both cases, is under desk cable management: the art of taking a bunch of cords and effectively and efficiently keeping them from becoming an eyesore. In this article, we’re going to look at what makes cable management key and five steps to set yourself up for success.
Why Is Cable Management Important?
It’s easier now than it was a few years ago to get a lot of wireless devices. But even with a laptop and some wireless accessories, chances are that you’ll still have a few cables laying around your workspace between the laptop charger, a lamp, and a USB device or two. Because of that, “going wireless” isn’t always a perfect solution to your under desk cable woes.
But what if you’ve never considered cable management before? If you don’t unplug things very often, you might be wondering why you should bother with organizing your cables now, especially if a cleaner appearance isn’t your primary concern. Believe it or not, there are a few very practical, non-aesthetic reasons to corral those cables.
Does Cable Management Affect Performance?
Never underestimate the power of a pristine workspace. When you think about having a clean look to your desk, you probably think first about the impact it has on others, whether that’s coworkers, prospects, or simply some house guests. But it affects you directly, too.
It’s safer. Loose cables can be a liability, even if it’s just for yourself in the comfort of your own home. You could trip on them, accidentally tug on the wrong one when you’re unplugging and bring something crashing down onto your head, or damage the cables themselves by stepping on them.
You’ll save time and frustration. Ever go under your desk to quickly unplug something from the power strip, only to realize all of the cables for your computer look the same? With proper cable management, it’ll be much easier to trace the cables back to their origin – or, if you choose to, you can have your cables labeled and never have to guess again.
You’ll also save some money down the road. If you don’t properly manage your cables, chances are that your cords will be susceptible to sagging, which can place unnecessary weight on the ends that will eventually cause the wires inside to fray or for the cord to not sit right in its connection. Or, if someone trips over or gets snagged on a stray cable, you might end up with damage to the port on the device, which could be a costly fix.
Does Cable Management Improve Temps?
For the most part, it isn’t temperature that will be affected by proper cable management. Rather, cable management is fantastic when it comes to allowing appropriate airflow and efficient cleaning so you can prevent dust buildup, which is a much larger concern than temperature in the vast majority of cases. This is true both inside and outside your PC!
So How Can I Hide My Cables?
Now that we’ve taken a look at just how much you can benefit from a little bit of cable management, let’s take a look at how to get the perfect setup. We’ve taken what could potentially be a painstaking process and boiled it down to five easy steps to ensure that you get the most out of your workspace.
Step One: Start With A Clean Slate
You probably already have a thing or two plugged in at your desk, or maybe you’re taking a currently messy workspace and looking to freshen it up. Unplug it all! Take all of the cables out of their connectors that you can and set them aside – but make sure you keep track of which cable goes to which device.
Make sure you unplug everything from both ends if at all possible so you can start with a totally clean slate. You’ll thank yourself later.
Step Two: Power Strip Placement
Where you can most discreetly place your power strip will depend on your setup – but it will also dictate how everything else comes together. Because of that, picking the ideal place to put your power strip is crucial. Two of the most common, discreet, and effective places to mount your power strip are going to be either on the underside of the desk itself or on the wall behind your desk, but you can also conceal your cables well on the floor if need be.
Option A: Mounting Your Power Strip
If your workspace is on a “standing desk” that moves up and down, you’re going to want to go for the under-the-desk spot. This way, you don’t have to worry about extra cable length to account for when you move the desk, which could make it harder to keep your cables hidden. If you go this route, however, make sure you choose screws that won’t go all the way through your desk and poke out of the other side.
Or you can choose our Cable Corral Under Desk Cable Management for an all in one solution.
Most power strips come with notches on the back where you can easily slide it onto screws for mounting. In this case, all you have to do is measure the distance between the notches, install the screws that far apart on your desk or wall, and hook it on, tightening the screws after to make sure it’s a snug fit. If your surge protector for some reason doesn’t have these, you can use industrial strength velcro, Command strips, or something similar to get the job done.
Option B: Concealing On The Floor (Complicated)
Alternatively, keeping your cables on the floor might be your preference or your desk might provide ample cover as it is and you don’t feel the need to mount your power strip. Or perhaps your desk is a glass desk and mounting behind the bar won’t look clean enough. Don’t worry – you can still keep your workspace clean and organized!
Thankfully, there are nifty little boxes you can pick up that will conceal your cables and surge protector called cableboxes. You could make your own with things like shoe boxes or other plastic boxes of a similar size, or you can pick up some sleek options at a store or online. These are also a great solution for cable management around the house and not just at your desk!
Step Three: Make Your Desk Cable-Friendly
Now that you’ve figured out where your power strip’s going to be, you probably have some ideas brewing in your head about where you’re going to route your cables. Some desks come with various built-in cable management features such as holes and grommets – if that’s the case, you’re ahead of the game. If not, these are easy features to add.
This might seem like a tedious step to include, but it is well worth the effort. This way, you can get your cables under your desk and tucked away as close to the source as possible, which is a massive visual improvement. If you have PC monitors you can mount on the wall rather than having them sit around on the surface, this will also help minimize cord clutter.
Step Four: Cable Prep
Making sure there’s no extra slack in your cables is one of the most important parts of cable management. In order to do this, you’re going to have to do a little prepwork: take your cables and/or a measuring tape and figure out exactly how much cable each connection needs. When you have that length, you’re going to want to coil up and put a tie on any excess cable.
Many cables come with twist-ties and you might initially think of those or a plastic zip-tie to wrap around the cable. I’d recommend against using those, however, as the twist-ties aren’t always the best and zip-ties can’t be removed unless you cut them. Pick up some velcro cable ties instead – they’re durable, low-profile, and, most importantly, reusable.
Find our TechDeck cable-ties here.
You’re also going to want to have some cable sleeves on-hand both for cable prep and for when you start plugging everything back in. These allow you to take bundles of cables and bunch them together in a much more attractive package than having them hang willy-nilly.
Step Five: Putting It All Together
You’ve prepared your space, your desk is clear, and your cables are coiled to the correct length. Now it’s time to plug everything in and make sure it’s tucked away properly. For this step, there are a few things that will help guide your cables to their destination without becoming an eyesore.
Most importantly, you’re going to want to look into getting a few adhesive cable clips to hold cables in place before they reach your main bundle. If you can’t get your hands on any of those or don’t like the idea of an adhesive, you can use binder clips on the edge of your desk to guide your cables.
Once you have things pretty much positioned where you want them, grab your cable sleeves and bundle together any cables that are near each other. This will minimize any signs of cables you end up seeing and can help keep certain types of cables bunched together for easy access. These can then be attached by clips or hooks to your desk or wall if you’d like to go the extra mile.
Tip: If you have a lot of cables that look similar to one another, label them! People often use bread clips for this but you can also use tape or other adhesive labels to keep track.
To Wrap It All Up…
Even though society is leaning more towards wireless devices and support for those has increased dramatically over the years, things ultimately still need to be plugged in – even if it’s just to recharge. This is especially true at your desktop workspace, which is likely where most of those charger-dependent devices live. Making sure that area stays clear so you can be productive is important, even if you only have a few cables hanging around!
Plus, maintaining solid cable management is just a good practice to be in. It increases your efficiency, keeps things organized, and makes your workspace look far more attractive. You’ll also probably save some money because your cables will last longer and not be at risk of getting torn out of their sockets.
Getting that perfect, aesthetically-pleasing cable setup doesn’t have to be difficult, time-consuming, or convoluted. With just the five steps we’ve listed, you can get that stock-photo-ready desk of your dreams. And trust me – you’ll thank yourself later when you need to upgrade, replace, or even simply move one of your devices. What are you waiting for?