Got New Electronics?

Technology changes so quickly these days that we’ve just barely mastered an acquisition before an updated version with amazing new features is out on the market.  No wonder we have a tendency to replace things that still work.   I myself have just done so with my landline phone, and I’m thrilled with my decision.

However, one of the consequences of rapid technology advances is . . . clutter.  (You knew I was going to get around to that, didn’t you?)

What kind of clutter?   Let me count the ways:

  • Old electronics
  • Boxes
  • Cables
  • Chargers
  • Accessories
  • Manuals
  • Warranties

I see this in my clients’ homes all the time.  Here is some advice to prevent the clutter that occurs when you get new electronics.

Discard the old old one right away if it doesn’t work

If you bought a new one because the old one doesn’t work anymore, why are you keeping it?   Take it somewhere that will recycle it (such as Goodwill or Best Buy).

Some people hold on to an old item because they want to “get the information off” before they get rid of it.   But they don’t . . . they just hold on to it.   If the information was that compelling, you would get around to that, wouldn’t you?  If you have gone six months without taking any steps to extract the information from a non-working item, then you clearly are not really in need of that information, so get rid of that thing!

Save the old one for two weeks if it still works

When we get something new, we’re not sure it’s going to work, or if we are going to like it.  So if the old one still works, we keep it around, just in case.  And so it stays.

Solution:  use the new item for two weeks.  If you’re happy with it, get rid of the old one and all of the accessories.  Give it away to a friend, donate it, or sell it on eBay.   Don’t forget to include the manual.

Get rid of what you don’t need

Once you’ve decided to keep an item, go through the box and dump any papers that are not useful.   Keep only the instruction manual, which you should put away in your file cabinet in a folder called “Manuals”.

The registration card and the warranty?   Recycle them.  The registration card merely provides marketing information to the manufacturer and gets you on an annoying mailing list.   And your warranty is valid even if you don’t have the warranty paper, so get rid of it.

The literature in languages that you don’t speak?   Recycle it.

What about the box?  If it’s not too large, and you have the space for it  in a closet — on a very high shelf — then keep it.  Items on eBay sell better if they are in the original box.  If, however, you don’t have the room, or the box is very large, recycle it.

Label the cables

Many of my clients have boxes of mystery cables and chargers.   They can’t remember what devices these items came from, so they are afraid to discard them.   So we label the box with a date one year hence, i.e., “Discard after Feb. 24, 2012”.   Any cable that is truly in use will get taken out of the box when needed.   Anything still in the box when that date comes around is clearly trash.

To prevent a mystery box, label every charger, cable, and accessory that came with your new item. Use a labeler, or use masking tape if you don’t have a labeler. Make it very clear. “Cell phone” isn’t very helpful. “Blackberry Curve 9330” is more like it.

After you’ve labeled all the cables and accessories, I recommend putting them all in a large Ziploc bag and marking it with name of the item.   That will make it easier to find the accessories when you need them.   Since you’ve labeled the accessories themselves, you’ll know what bag to return them to after you’ve used them.

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