Do you have a system for keeping track of your phone and/or tablet?
Do you always know where they are when you're at home? What do you do with all those charging cords? Do you have a phone home? (If you don't get the reference, you're young, and you need to go watch the classic 1980's movie ET)
If you're like us, you have a basket or drawer full of tangled chargers. Charging a phone involved untangling a cord from the pile and then plugging it in on the kitchen island. The phone and charger only added to the clutter already on the counter. Sometimes, it would get bumped when accessing the refrigerator or the GFCI outlet would get tripped for some reason. After you thought your phone was charging, you would discover it was still dead. Often, both plugs would be tied up in the morning when someone wanted to use the toaster. This caused a fight over which phone to unplug.
We finally solved all this with the bamboo charging station below. We now have a home for our phones and tablets. Plugged in or not, it's a handy place to put them instead of the middle of the kitchen counter.
I made space for it on our kitchen counter tucked back out of the way next to the fridge. Inside is a 6-port USB charger. We had so many USB cords around that I didn't even need to buy new ones. I even connected the charger for our Amazon Tap device, which can easily be disconnected to use for a phone or tablet.
Several versions of these charging stations are available on Amazon and I'm sure other stores. I like the look of the bamboo and the way the dividers are easily removable, yet strong enough to easily hold several devices. Plus, bamboo is considered a sustainable material.
Below are affiliate links to the charging station, charger, and just in case you're interested, the Amazon Tap. (Note that the Tap is an older model Alexa enabled device. The thing I like about the Tap though, is it isn't constantly listening to you. You have to push the button before asking Alexa a question.)
If you want to be fancy, you can buy all new USB cables for it so they match and are all the same length. If you have a mixture of devices needing their own type of cord then I suggest buying different colors for them. For example, now that my wife is back at work I plan to get a white iPhone charger for her work phone. All the other devices we have are Android based and are using black cables.
If you are tired of seeing your phones and tablets all over the house, you keep forgetting where it's plugged in, or are constantly searching for your phone charger that your kids stole, then this is the way to go. The version above may not be the right one for you, but since they come in several shapes and materials, I'm sure you'll find one that works.
Vintage or Garbage
This is me on my Wonder Horse when I was a kid. It was one of my favorite toys of all time. With my horse and a lasso, I thought I was going to be the next rodeo star. One of my favorite rodeo events to emulate though was steer wrestling. I would ride as hard as I could, then leap off and tackle something - pillows, cushions, whatever.
After I outgrew my Wonder Horse, my little sister played with it and so did many of my nephews. At some point I brought it to my own home for my kids to play with.
Nothing lasts forever though
Before I knew it, I had to put tape over a crack in the saddle to prevent pinched rear ends. The kids kept playing with it and it only got worse. Last month, when I had a wet basement to deal with I moved several things, including the horse, to the garage.
I kept looking at it knowing that I should get rid of it. No one had been playing with it for a while. It was fairly dangerous with the broken seat, the handle that wouldn’t stay on anymore, and the sharp metal stand that was missing a rubber cap.
But how could I possibly part with my horse?
I had spent countless hours playing with it as a kid and enjoyed watching my own kids play with it. After all, this is vintage 1979 and people collect these things. It’s worth money right? What about all the great memories? In other words, all the usual excuses went through my mind about why you can’t part with a sentimental item.
When I mentioned it to one of my sisters I heard, “You can’t get rid of your horse!” I started thinking that maybe I could repair it. Then I thought of all the other projects I have laying around the house I already don’t have time for. Since I have six sisters, advice is never more than a phone call away. I asked another and found out she still has hers. She plans to make a carousel horse out of it. “Then what?” I asked. “It’ll just sit around in a corner I guess. I should probably get rid of it”.
I broke down and decided to sell
I put it for sale on a local Facebook group for the bargain price of $15. After a week, I lowered it to $10. Here’s an interesting thing about selling on Facebook. If you didn’t know, you can check the statistics of your item to see how many people have looked at it, saved it, etc. The stats on my horse were poor. Even at $10.
I finally worked up the courage to put it on the curb
I deleted the posting on Facebook and set it on the curb in front of our house. Normally, you can put anything out here and it will disappear in a matter of hours. Late that night, it was still there and the forecast was for rain. I brought it back into the garage. The next day I did the same thing. An excited grandparent stopped and rang the doorbell to make sure I was giving it away. When I showed him the broken seat, he changed his mind and drove away.
Someone finally took it. I keep telling myself it went to someone who will repair it and not to a scrap dealer. I’m sure my beloved Wonder Horse is being repaired right now so a kid can pretend to be the next rodeo star.
What did I learn from throwing my childhood on the curb?
First, I learned I don’t miss the horse, but I love the extra space I gained in my basement. Second, I learned that while my sisters sometimes have good advice, they are not the ones to ask if I should get rid of something. Third, when you detach yourself from a sentimental item and look at it objectively, it will be lot easier to see why you should let it go. In this case, I zeroed in on the broken seat and sharp metal and realized it was unsafe. I knew I would never get around to repairing it, assuming that was even possible. Finally, you can convince yourself that the sentimental item you were attached to is still out there making someone else happy. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.
How many times has this happened to you? You’re out somewhere and see a flyer about an event you want to remember so you take a picture. Or, you’re child hands you a flyer for a field trip so you snap a picture with your phone. It makes so much sense because you can retrieve the information when you need it. Unfortunately, those photos get lost among all the others you’ve taken. Weeks or months later you’re scrolling through all your photos trying to find the information from the flyer or the field trip.
We make frequent use of our city library but my wife always had the kids’ library cards in her purse. I finally laid them all out and took a picture but again, after a few months, I could never find them among my photos. Then, the obvious and simple solution occurred to me.
Make a folder
I now have in my phone a folder, or album, called Quick Access where I put these things. On an Android phone it’s easy to create a custom folder for your pictures. Open your phone’s photo gallery and go to the Album view. At the top of the screen, there is an icon of a folder with a plus sign in the middle. Click the plus sign and give it a name like “Quick Access” or if you are creative enough to come up with something cooler, then give it a more interesting name. Depending on your phone and storage options, you may be able to specify where the album lives.
The next time you take a picture of a flyer or the cover of a book you want to look for at the library, move the picture into your quick access folder so you can find it later. Obviously, this method will only work for so long if you don’t do some occasional housekeeping. We’ll tackle digital clutter later though.
I don’t have an Apple but I expect it’s a pretty similar process to create an album and move pictures into it. In fact, it may even be easier. You can go as far as you want with this method and create several albums. You could create a folder for work, one for your kids’ stuff, and one for project ideas or something. You can use this method to organize all your photos, not just field trip flyers and lost dog posters.
Be careful though if you have some sort of automatic backup feature to save the photos on your phone. Make sure that your new folders are being saved to your Google Photos, iCloud, or wherever they are supposed to be going. These services may not automatically see the new folders.
Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2018
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