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Lost in Clutter? 7 Reasons Why You Should Clear Old Paper Now

Posted  June 26, 2018  by  Lynn Brown

Shred-it Secure Container in Office Space
Several years ago, the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD), headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, created a ‘Clutter Hoarding Scale’ assessment tool for its membership of professional organizers.

According to the ICD, hoarding becomes a problem at Level II with ‘clutter beginning to obstruct living areas, slight congestion of exits, entrances, hallways and stairs, and inconsistent housekeeping and maintenance’. By Level V, it’s really quite dangerous with ‘key living spaces not usable, all rooms not used for intended purposes, and entrances, hallways and stairs blocked’.

While the ICD focuses on health and safety, Shred-it focuses on the security risks created by paper clutter, which is in most cases of hoarding, the number one challenge.

Here is why it’s important to clear paper clutter in the home and office.

  1. PII: Keeping old documents is a huge security risk because they may contain personally identifiable information (PII).
  2. Criminal opportunity: Research shows that thieves are spontaneous – they act on opportunity to use data for personal gain or to steal it and sell it. Stockpiled documents at home or in the office may be all the opportunity someone needs.
  3. Mold and other nasty things: Old books and papers are a haven for different molds and microorganisms especially if storage areas have been damp or humid. Those health issues can cause disease, and professional clean-up to remove those problems can be expensive.
  4. Accidents: Tripping over piled-up boxes that line hallways and obscure exits, can result in a fall. Too much clutter is a fire hazard too.
  5. Stress: Research has shown that working in a cluttered environment can affect concentration. According to the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), 80% of clutter in the office is a result of being disorganized and not due to a lack of space. 
  6. Wasted time: The average person can waste over 4 hours a week looking for papers, according to NAPO. Plus, the average U.S. executive wastes 6 weeks a year searching for important documents lost in clutter.
  7. Costs: Searching for lost documents costs businesses around $2.5 million in lost productivity, according to data from the International Data Corporation (IDC).  

Here are tips to clear paper clutter now and forever:

  • Go through each box or file to determine the importance of documents. Only keep documents for as long as they are needed by government or privacy laws or personal reasons.
  • Digitize data if possible. Use a logical filing system that makes retrieval fast and easy.  
  • Do not put old documents into the blue box for recycling. Dumpster divers steal documents, and use PII for identity theft and other crimes.
  • Securely dispose of confidential documents that are no longer needed. Schedule a one-time on demand shred service.
  • Declutter on a regular basis by committing to Clean Desk Policy guidelines. In the workplace, employees must keep confidential information securely locked away or out of sight. According to the 2018 State of the Industry Information Security report from Shred-it, 98% of large organizations do have a policy for storing and disposing of confidential data (but 18% say that not all employees are aware of them).

Start Protecting Your Business

To learn more about how Shred-it can help you avoid paper clutter in the office and also protect your documents and hard drives, please contact us to get a free quote and security risk assessment.


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