When I was growing up in the 70's and 80's, the speed at which technology changed was at a snail's pace compared to today when updates are issued at a dizzying rate. For example with music technology, it took nearly 40 years to shift from a tape deck where you had to physically insert a cassette to the streamed digital music of present day. The tape cassette was invented in 1962, the first CD in 1979 and it wasn't until 1997 that Capitol records sold the first "piece" (aka download) of digital music. Computers and phones have experienced similar patterns, for decades very little changed between improvements and iterations.
Today, the life cycle of a smartphone, computer and other technology can often be measured in weeks and months rather than years leading us all to be challenged. Learning new functions and features routinely as well as considering how to dispose of no longer needed technology and electronics is a double whammy.
As a professional organizer, I encounter a lot of outdated technology in my client's homes taking up precious real estate. There is a great deal of anxiety and stress related to how to get rid of unwanted devices. Neat Little Nest has had numerous clients who have decades worth of these items simply because they are unsure what exactly to do with them.
One thing I can say from both personal and professional experience is that it doesn't get any easier the longer you wait. I recommend that you make a choice about what to do with your devices as soon as you get new ones AND while you still know the passwords and have all of their pieces and parts including charging cables.
step one: declutter your tech
Making sense of what tech you have is a critical first step. To tackle this to-do, gather up all of your current tech gadgets/devices in one spot and take inventory. Next, find all of your old/outdated phones, computers, chargers, cameras et al.
Once you have everything in one place, put like items with like items and begin matching up. This means you put all of your computers in one spot together, all of your computer chargers in another spot. You do the same for all of the subcategories of tech/devices like phones/chargers, iPads/chargers and so on. Once you have sorted all of the subcategories together, you begin pairing up chargers to phones and computers. Once you've found a complete "set", put the set aside.
For the tech you choose to keep, there are some amazing organizing tools you can use to keep cords tamed and hold small items in place.
step two: wipe your tech clean (and not just literally)
No matter if you choose to sell, donate or dispose of your old devices/electronics, you will want the device wiped clean of all of your personal information. Visit the manufacturer's website for instructions on how to delete information properly. There are also many YouTube videos and blog posts that can help support you in this endeavor. Be patient as each device has its own manual for clearing data. Be sure to take your time as this step is very important.
step three: say good-bye to your tech
The three main ways to say goodbye to old/outdated tech are sell, donate and recycle.
Sell - you can choose to sell your old technology to either individuals or companies. You can sell to individuals through digital marketplaces or even at a local garage sale. Most of the time when you sell to individuals, they are purchasing an older model because it's more affordable to buy second hand. Companies buying old tech are usually buying the tech for parts. Many of the manufacturers also have trade-in programs that offer you cash for any old technology/devices.
Donate - many large donation centers like Goodwill will take your unwanted technology.
Recycle - Consumer electronics such as TVs, computer equipment, and DVD players contain toxic metals and chemicals. While these devices are safe to use every day in your house, when thrown away they can release heavy metals and other chemicals into the environment. For that reason, it's important to protect yourself and the environment by keeping them out of the trash. From local recycling drives to local retail drop off locations, recycling electronics/devices has become easier than ever with many of the recycling centers offering free recycling or charging minimal fees.
We all have such busy lives and it is so easy to accumulate clutter in general. When gadgets/devices start piling up, it can take on a life of its own. Making a conscious decision to regularly stay one step ahead of keeping your technology chaos corralled keeps the job from spiraling out of control.
For a detailed list of where you can sell, donate or recycle your electronics and more, check out our blog post 50+ ways to donate, sell or recycle your stuff!
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