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Managing New Media

Dear Jo the Clutterbuster:

I’ve managed to get a handle on most of the paper clutter that enters my home. However, errant dead batteries, old computer monitors, unused cell phones, miscellaneous cables , cords  and adapters take up valuable space in every room. I feel guilty discarding these items knowing everything will end up in a landfill. On the other hand, having a landfill in every room of my home is not part of my decorating scheme.


Media Mad

Dear Mad:

There are some truisms when it comes to media:

  • The minute you buy it, a newer version is released.
  • Media multiplies and old media never dies.
  • If you break it, you can’t fix it (or sometimes even recycle it.)
  • If you can’t figure out how to use it, ask a 10 year old.
  • By the time you read this blog, many of the items I write about will be passé, and replaced by newer versions or won’t exist at all. Note: Ask a 10 year old what is “in.”

The Media is the Mess (with apologies to Marshall McLuhan)

In Part 1 of this blog, we will tackle the storage and management of your “In Use” media. In Part 2, we will examine how to manage “No Longer Used” media. In Part 3, we will find ways to Store and or Recycle and discard unwanted and unused media.

Step 1:

From every room, closet, drawer in your home, gather every SMALL electronic device and its accompanying instruction book, warranty, cable, cords, etc. Place them on the dining room table, the living room floor, or if you need to, rent a gymnasium. Try to correctly match empty cases, cables, warranties, instruction booklets and any accompanying doo dads to the each device.

Here is a partial list of the media that you may unearth:

  • Blackberries and similar devices
  • Digital still cameras/charger
  • Digital video cameras/charger
  • GPS devices
  • Handheld Video GamesI-pads
  • I-pads
  • I pods (all sizes)/charging devices
  • Kindles
  • MP3 players
  • Telephones/chargers

Managing larger media such as televisions, computers, computer monitors, printers, scanners, copiers, fax machines, video games, the WII will be discussed in the next blog installment.

Step 2: Sort the items into three piles:

  • In Use
  • No longer used (aka Dead)
  • Doo dads (miscellaneous adapters, headsets, cords, cables, disks, memory cards, gizmos that your are unsure to what they belong.)

For every In Use device, determine if you will replace this device soon.

If yes, place the device in the “No longer used” pile.

Set aside the No Longer Used media. We will address those items in Media Management: Part 2.

Retain the Doo Dads to match them with their appropriate device.

Step 3: For each small In Use device:

  • Locate all the parts needed to use this device. (You may have to forage through the Doo Dad pile. (Ask a 10 year old to help if necessary.)
  • Use zip ties to corral cords, cables.
  • Identify the correct batteries (if required) for this device and record the type on a 3x5 card with the make /model of the device. For extra credit, include date and place of purchase.
  • Place all the items together into a clear re-sealable plastic bag. Use a permanent marker and label the bag with the name/model of the device to which these pieces belong.

Storage for In Use Media

Once the In Use devices have been collected, sorted, and reunited with their various parts, you are ready to determine the storage for these items. When you excavated every closet, drawer, cupboard, pocket, toy shelf looking for these devices, you identified potential space for their storage.

You may choose to identify one cupboard, closet, armoire, in which to keep all small media devices and their accompanying parts. Make sure everyone in your home knows where these items are kept and agree to return them to their home after use. Select a place with proximity to electrical outlets to make recharging part of their storage.

Another option is to store based on who “owns” the item. Distribute each item to its owner and they determine where it will be stored. They then take responsibility for putting it away and can no longer scream out: Hey, Mom/Dad, where is my X.

Another option is to store these devices based on the frequency of use. For every device, determine how often, in what circumstances and where you may use this device.

Based on your criteria, the still camera could be kept in a kitchen cupboard near the door for easy access. The video camera could be kept in a coat closet. The underwater camera could be stored near the luggage or swim gear.

Storage for Supplies and DooDads:

It is not just the devices that need storage, but the myriad of supplies, including but not limited to the following, that accompany each new gizmo:

  • Application Disks and instructions
  • Boxes
  • CDs
  • Digital tapes
  • Disks
  • DVDs
  • External hard drives
  • Headphones
  • Instruction booklets for use
  • Jewel cases
  • Joy sticks
  • Memory cards
  • Photographs
  • Software and instructions
  • Warranties
  • Additional electronics related Doo dads (Adapters,cables, power strips, speakers, power supplies, batteries)
  • Accompanying supplies (printing paper, photo paper, ink cartridges, thumb drives, disks, batteries)

The key to managing the doodads and supplies is to recycle or discard any items that are not in use or whose device no longer exists.

You can designate one area in which to keep any and all media-related supplies. The advantage to this system is you will be able to monitor what you already have or what needs to be replenished. Reducing redundancy makes managing media easier.

You may also choose to locate the supplies where they are being used i.e.. paper near the printer or copier; thumb drives or external drives near the computer; headphones near the sound system.

ANY storage system requires everyone to commit to returning the items to where they belong.

In next month’s blog, we will look at what to do with the No-Longer-In Use aka Dead media.