When you are ready to tackle the large piles of paper in your office, you may struggle with figuring out what pieces of paper can be recycled and what might need to be shredded. As a Professional Organizer in NYC, I get this question a lot. Here are my tips on knowing what you need to shred and what you can safely recycle.
First, let’s talk about why this topic is so important. Personal information is commonly shared on documents, and these documents could fall into the hands of identity thieves. It’s unfortunately a very common problem! And when it comes to business documents, not only do you need to be concerned with someone acquiring your or a team member’s personal information, but you need to also take care to safely store personal information belonging to your clients, colleagues, and anyone you do business with.
Here’s the rule of thumb: shred any and all documents that have on them any account numbers, birth dates, passwords, PINs, signatures, and Social Security numbers. These documents absolutely must be shredded as this kind of information is incredibly sensitive. You may also consider shredding any document which includes full contact info (names, phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses). Even just this basic information can be deemed sensitive, so it’s best to make it a habit of shredding any documents that include this information.
Though the list of documents that should be shredded is pretty expansive, not everything needs to go that route. Notes that you’ve taken on scrap paper, reminders, and junk mail that does not include any personal information. When in doubt, just shred to be safe.
Of course there are certain documents that should not be shredded or recycled until they are no longer needed. Items such as tax documents need to be saved for several years, as well as supporting documents that might be needed in case of an audit. Talk to your tax advisor so that you can be sure you are saving everything that you may need and to confirm the length of time that this information must be kept.
Once you have the documents ready to be shredded, you can either shred them by hand or use a shredding service that may be contracted through your office. Another option is finding a community shredding event (you can find these through your local groups online) that you can take your documents to, or you can also use the FedEx secure collection bins located in many local stores.
Keeping your sensitive information safe is important, and it’s equally important to protect the personal information of those you do business with. Use these tips to implement shredding into your paper organizing strategy. Want more hands on help? Call your Professional Organizer in NYC today.