colorful paperclips and thumbtacks

Do You Really Need to Shred That?

I work with a lot of clients with their paper problems.

And a good bit of them get hung up on the details of complying with “the rules.”

And by “the rules” I’m talking about a set of things they think they need to do before getting rid of paperwork they no longer need.

Rules like:

  • Removing staples and paperclips
  • Inking over names and addresses to preserve privacy
  • Shredding everything

And because they’re not so sure about what to do or how to get rid of paper safely, they’re hanging on to a ton of paper!

Those Rules are Outdated

But the thing is that the rules are not only outdated, but they’re largely a waste of time.

And they do little to nothing to help you deal with your paperwork.

Instead they add additional and unnecessary organizing barriers.

So ditch those rules!

New Rules to Follow

First, staples and paperclips no longer need to be removed to recycle papers.

Facilities can handle them, so skip this step unless you really want to save the paperclip to reuse it.

Next, inking over your name and address on every piece of mail sure does prevent anyone going through your trash from seeing this information.

But if you’re in the phone book, then they can get it from there…

And this basic information is pretty much every where, so it’s more important to focus on securing sensitive information (like your date of birth and Social Security Numbers) that identity thieves could actually do some damage with.

Third, similar to inking over your name and address, shredding everything with only that information on it is a waste.

Always Shred This Information

There are many good reasons to shred some of your paperwork before discarding it.

Always shred information that has embarrassing information on it or information you don’t want to get out, like medical records.

Shred anything with Social Security numbers, Days of Birth, PINs, and passwords without hesitation.

If you’re dealing with old bank records, check them thoroughly before discarding.

There’s often Social Security numbers listed, so beware!

The only exception I have to bulk shredding is when you’re dealing with a large volume of paperwork to get rid of.

In this situation only, it makes more sense to skip searching for sensitive information on each paper and set it all aside to be shredded at once.

Paper Shredder Considerations

Ready to buy a shredder so you don’t have to deal with the backlog of paper?

Here are some things to consider before buying one!

  • Maintenance
    How easy is it to empty the shredder?

    Does the bin slide in and out smoothly or is it a pain to deal with?
  • Ease of Use
    Do you have to remove staples before running through the shredder?

    Pass by shredders that can’t handle staples.
  • Bin Size
    How much will the bin handle?

    Get a bin size big enough to handle your load of shredding so that you’re not having to empty the bin all the time.
  • Motor strength
    Weak motors make the shredder sound like an unhappy animal and are not nice to use.

    And they won’t be able to run for as long before needing to cool down.
  • Safety features
    Will the shredder shut off if fingers accidentally get into the slot?
  • Noise levels
    How loud is the shredder while in operation?

    Levels of 85 decibels or louder will damage your hearing, so opt for a much lower level, around 50 dB.

    The lower, the better.

Alternatives to Shredding Paper Yourself

  • Take it to work
    If there’s a big shredder you can use, take a small amount of paper to work to securely shred
  • Participate in community shred days.

    Call your city and see if they offer a day when you can bring papers to be shredded to a central location, usually the parking lot of City Hall.
  • Hand shred sensitive information.

    This is my preferred method.

    I simply tear up sensitive bits of information into tiny pieces.
  • Invest in shredding scissors (affiliate link).

    The scissors pictured above are the same ones I own and have used to fringe lots of paper, so I know they’ll hold up well.

Over to you!

Now you know the new rules of paper shredding, what will you spend all the extra time on?

Tell me in the comments!

More Paper Organizing Help

Organizing paper is an overwhelming and time consuming process if not done the right way.

This self paced paper organizing course cuts through all of that and gives you simple steps to follow to get the job done!

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