November 20, 2018

Why You Should Say ‘Good Riddance’ to Clutter (Hint: It’s Not Just About Being Tidy)

There are so many stories about the many benefits of decluttering today, ranging from improved organization to reduced stress, but what’s most interesting is that these stories usually leave out one of the top decluttering benefits of all, which is information security and reducing the risk of a data breach.

Clutter can make it easier for a criminal to steal confidential data. That’s because a cluttered home and office includes a lot of personally identifiable information (PII) and other confidential data on paper and hard drives. When it’s out of place and not properly protected, criminals can steal it to commit identity theft and other crimes.

Here’s how purging unneeded documents with a decluttering process will improve data security.

TAKING STOCK: Decluttering is much more than simply getting rid of paper piles, overflowing recycling bins, and stockpiled computer equipment. There are privacy laws and legislation that require individuals and businesses to protect and keep certain data for set periods of time. As part of a purge, it’s important to review documents so you know what you have and what must be kept at this time.  

ORGANIZE IT: Organize the information you have and receive. In the workplace, a document management process may include filing paper or digitizing documents to save space, or using cloud storage services. Create a retention schedule and clearly label files so they’re easy to locate when needed. Avoid stockpiling electronics because this increases the risk of a data breach (even if you have deleted confidential information on hard drives, special software can be used to find and extract this data).

LOCK IT UP: Improve storage solutions. Use hard-to-guess passwords and screen locks on all devices; use physical locks on drawers, office doors, and file cabinets too. Think about how you carry confidential data around and improve those habits. For example, limit the number of ID and credit cards you carry and store them in hard-to-reach places.

SECURE DISPOSAL: All data that is no longer needed must be securely destroyed. Ensure the complete destruction of hard drives and unwanted media too. A CD-ROM can hold the equivalent of thousands of paper documents. A professional document destruction company is recommended.

PEACE OF MIND: Research has shown that while clutter can create stress, a decluttered environment can help you process information better. A recent Psychology Today article said decluttering creates a sense of confidence and self-efficacy. Plus, cleaning and organizing tends to reduce anxiety.

FUTURE PLANS: Commit to regular purging of materials to stay clutter-free. Keep the home and workplace decluttered by setting aside time at the end of each day to clear clutter. Clean and clear your computer desktop and desk. Do away with open recycling bins for paper, and make sure documents are never put into the garbage intact. Partner with a comprehensive service that can deal with both paper documents and digital media. Take advantage of regional Community Shred-it events too where communities are invited to shred unwanted documents and e-media for free.

Start Protecting Your Business

To learn more about how Shred-it can protect your documents and hard drives, please contact us to get a free quote and security risk assessment. For a limited time, save up to 25% off a one time-shredding service.