Like many other people right now, I’m in the midst of watching my house transform as a direct result of Marie Kondo’s best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. As the title suggests, the book powerfully explains how to properly keep any room tidy, in the process helping you resolve lingering issues in your life. Thanks to positive press, strong word of mouth, and surprisingly tangible results, Tidying Up is rapidly taking minimalism mainstream, bucking an age-old trend towards hoarding untold quantities of stuff and leaving it scattered around one’s living and working spaces.
As a long-time minimalist, it’s refreshing to see decluttering catching on. But Kondo’s KonMari system — keep only those items that “spark joy” and are actually being used, discarding everything else — has created a problem for tech-savvy readers. No matter how necessary they’ve become in our lives, Apple device chargers don’t “spark joy.” In Kondo terminology, their cables are untidy; particularly if you’ve purchased inexpensive third-party options, they’re not particularly nice to look at.
I knew this was a problem when my wife, inspired by Tidying Up, nearly tossed out the multi-iPad charger our family has used for years. Yes, the charger was creating visual clutter, but we needed it — or something better — to keep everyone’s iPads working. My hunt to find minimalist solutions to our daily charging needs inspired this article. Below, I’ll run through a few options that will help you tidy up your iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple Watch, and Mac spaces, so you (and/or your significant other) can achieve minimalism without giving up your favorite devices…
Decluttered Multi-Device Charging
As a rule, multi-device chargers create clutter. They have multiple cables to manage, and the vast majority of them — even ones I love on both price and performance — just leave wires all over the place. The trend towards “figure it out yourself” cable management began when Apple switched to Lightning cables, notably cluttering up Griffin and Satechi multi-device chargers, and never really got fixed. Multi-device Lightning speakers with integrated charging docks didn’t really take off, either, thanks to Apple’s mandate that they use case-unfriendly Lightning plugs.
BlueLounge’s Sanctuary 4 is the only minimalist multi-device charging station that passed muster in our post-Tidying Up home. Sold in black or white with a black top, it’s a thick hard plastic box that can hide up to four cables and most of its own wall charging cord inside, turning what otherwise would be a huge mess of visible wires into an unintrusive enclosure. A rail on the back lets you stand an iPad upright while three other devices sit alongside it; it supports two tablets and two smaller devices at once. Pair a black Sanctuary 4 with black Lightning cables to completely neutralize its appearance, or if you’re handy with a drill, you can try building something similar yourself with a Hammond project box and a multi-port USB charger.
Minimalist iPad-, iPhone-, iPod-, or MacBook-Only Charging
Most of Apple’s devices are sold with fairly minimalist individual chargers: white and gray Lightning or MagSafe cables, generally with matching white wall adapters. For a single device, your tidying solution can be as simple as managing or hiding Apple’s cable, and I certainly wouldn’t discourage you from going with something inexpensive that works. MacBook Air and Pro wall adapters at least partially manage their own cabling; 12″ Retina MacBook wall adapters, like iPad and iPhone adapters, do not have any integrated cable management.
For managing or hiding your current cables, I really like BlueLounge’s CableDrop (shown above), CableDrop Mini, and Pixi, which come in multi-packs and attach either adhesively or with elastic ties to your furniture, enabling the cable’s head to stay cleanly in one place while the rest of the cable hides behind a table or nightstand. Featured in my article on the Best Mac Accessories For Your Home Office, I’ve used CableDrops to keep cables in position at the very edge of a desk, considerably reducing the visibility of wires.
Coiled cables and retractable cables are also options. Just Mobile’s AluCable Twist (shown above) stretches out to an unusually long 6-foot length, but otherwise coils up to around half the length of a typical Lightning cable; StarTech sells less fancy coiled cables in 1-foot and 2-foot lengths. Scosche’s Strikeline Pro (not shown) is a retractable Lightning cable that combines better-than-average durability with slightly better-than-average looks. Retractable cables are frequently fraught with disappointing longevity or design, so I don’t generally recommend them, but if reducing visual clutter is your goal, they’re an option.
Minimalist Apple Watch Charging
Because Apple’s official Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Cable is required for charging Apple Watches, every Apple Watch stand and dock uses that cable and tries to hide it away. The most minimalist Apple Watch charging solutions I’ve yet seen are Nomad’s Pod for Apple Watch (above) and Boostcase’s Bloc for Apple Watch (not shown), both of which have internal batteries and can operate for several days with no visible wires. But if you’re willing to have some cabling exposed at the stand’s base, there are a lot of other options that nicely hide the top of Apple’s cable.
Following the original publication of this article, I reviewed a wonderfully minimalist multi-device charger with Apple Watch support called the Premium One W3 from Enblue. Like Sanctuary 4, it nicely manages multiple devices and cables, but here, you can see the screens of your Apple Watch, iPad, and iPhone. The Premium One series will only appeal to Apple Watch users, but it’s a great design.
Does any of the solutions above “spark joy” to the extent Kondo suggests in Tidying Up? That’s up to you, but that’s a lot to expect of any charger — realistically, it’s the iPad, iPhone, Mac, Apple Watch or iPod that’s creating the joy, and the charger basically needs to disappear except when needed. Each of the options I’ve presented above will help you reduce the visual noise in your room, and hopefully Tidying Up will inspire developers to create even more compelling alternatives in the future.
(If you’re interested in the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is available through Amazon and Apple’s iBooks Store, as well as Audible and Apple audiobook formats.)
More From This Author
Check out more of my How-To guides, editorials and reviews for 9to5Mac here! I’ve covered a lot of different topics of interest to Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, and Apple Watch users.