For many people, the kitchen is the hub of the home. It’s the place where friends and family gather, pass through, and often leave their stuff. The day’s mail, activity schedules, receipts, and lots of other papers end up in the kitchen. If you’re like I used to be, you have a pile of mail and other paper clutter on your counter that you frantically shove into a drawer when company comes by. I made one super easy change in my home, and it virtually eliminated my huge pile of paper clutter.
The biggest source of paper clutter
Maybe you have a sorting and filing system for your incoming papers – good for you! Or maybe your filing system is to throw it all in a heap until you can’t bear the sight of it anymore. Hey, I don’t judge. Either way, the key to eliminating paper clutter is to take action on it once, and then be done with it. The three most common sorting categories for incoming papers are:
- Defer, and
For many people, the biggest source of paper clutter is the shred pile.
The shred pile contains the stuff you don’t need to hold on to, but that you can’t simply recycle. Most papers containing personal data, such as your date of birth, Social Security number, account numbers, credit card applications, etc should be shredded at some point. If you’re not sure what to shred or when, check out this post from Jill On Money.
Shredding documents containing sensitive personal information is incredibly important. It helps protect your privacy and even your credit score by keeping your data and personal information out of the hands of creepers who may be looking to:
- Steal your identity,
- Blackmail you, or
- Learn intimate details about your life
I don’t want to scare you into shredding, but trust me – properly disposing of your personal data is something you want to get right.
The growing shred pile
Once you’ve decided to shred something (Yay!), you might place it in a cute basket, tray, or bin in your kitchen, or wherever you sort your papers. You plan to shred it later.
And there it sits.
For days. Weeks. Or (In my case) months.
You tell yourself you’ll deal with it when you have time. But you just never seem to find the time. The shred basket gets fuller and fuller, until it’s overflowing.
You look at it with complete dread. You’ve let that shred pile grow into a monster, and it seems it will take forever to tackle.
So you let it sit some more.
I can definitely relate to the mammoth shred pile. Mine got so bad that at one point, I had accumulated almost a year’s worth documents that needed shredding! Can you imagine how many cubic feet of paper that was?! It was insane. And it was a giant source of frustrating paper clutter in my home.
The ‘aha’ moment
One day, I was beating myself up because I had been so lazy about shredding my documents. I told myself that I needed to bite the bullet more often, carry my shred basket to the study upstairs, and run my documents through the shredder.
With that thought, I stopped dead in my tracks.
Why had I made it so hard on myself? If the best way to handle incoming papers is to deal with them once and then be done, why was my shredder in the study on the third floor of my home, up two flights of stairs from the shred basket in my kitchen? What the flip was I thinking when I set that system up?!
I realized at that point that if I need to shred documents in my kitchen nearly every day, there is no reason to store my shredder in my study, where I need to unfile and shred documents a few times a year.
So, I marched up those two flights of stairs, lugged my shredder down, and plopped it down in my kitchen, right next to my shred basket.
The super easy trick
Here it is: Store your shredder closest to where you sort incoming papers, so you can easily shred documents immediately.
I told you it was easy!
Reduce paper clutter by storing your shredder closest to where you sort incoming papers, and shred documents immediately.
In terms of my paper management system, this one little tweak has been life-changing.
Although I receive and pay most statements and bills online now, there is still a good influx of papers that need to be shredded on a daily basis. I bring the daily mail to the paper landing zone in my kitchen, and immediately take action on the shred-able items. Pesky credit card application? Shred it. Random bill I just paid? Shred it. Frequent flyer statement? Shred it. Deal with those items once, immediately, and they’re gone forever.
Having easier access to my shredder has cut down tremendously on paper clutter. So much, in fact, that I don’t even have a shred basket anymore. I simply pop my sensitive documents into the shredder as soon as I realize they need to be disposed of. Rather than waiting until I have accumulated enough papers to justify carrying them up 2 flights of stairs to where the shredder used to be, I brought the shredder to my documents. No more mammoth shred pile!
While it’s incredibly efficient to store the shredder in my kitchen, it isn’t exactly glamorous. I solved this little problem by choosing a shredder on castors. If guests are coming and I want my kitchen to look a bit more chic, I just roll my shredder into a nearby closet and close the door. But, I always make sure to return it to the kitchen afterwards. Otherwise, I’ll forget to shred, and eventually end up with paper clutter all over again.
The point is…
Shredding the right documents is critical to protecting your privacy, safeguarding against identity theft, and effectively managing your incoming papers. However, shredding is a minor chore that can quickly become unmanageable if not done regularly.
Set yourself up for success by storing your shredder in the same place where you sort your incoming papers. As soon as you realize a document needs to be shredded, do it. That way, you deal with the document once and never again (And never in piles!).
How do you deal with paper clutter? And where do you keep your shredder? Tell me in the comments below!