How Shredding Now Sets You Up for a Successful 2022
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Back in school, the time between the end and beginning of semesters was really useful. The chaotic and messy last semester had just come to an end leaving a clean slate ahead. The completed work of the previous semester could be put to rest and any clutter discarded. The break felt great and allowed you to learn from the past and restructure the things for the coming semester.
Time to Declutter
When it comes to shredding, whether you’re dealing with business or personal documents, there is a similar sense of value in decluttering during the period between the end and beginning of calendar years. In both personal and business life, going into a new year has its physical and psychological benefits. You’ve accumulated a lot of stuff in 2021 and now is a great time to reduce that heap.
Why Shred Between Calendar Years?
To match the calendar year: On a personal level, you may have time off between Christmas and New Year’s you can use to declutter. Since some files will be tax related, it’s a good time to choose. For businesses, it may also be the fiscal year end.
To maintain psychological health: Coming back to work in the new year with a clean and organized office and easy-to-find files and documents will help maintain positive morale. When the staff is in a healthy position, your clients will be affected in the same way.
To check retention dates: Now is a good time to double check that files with retention dates haven’t exceeded their lifespan. Keeping sensitive material longer than necessary puts you and your business at risk of a data breach and increases your legal liability. Shred anything that is outdated and partner with a records management company to archive “forever” documents and implement a process that will alert you when document retention dates arrive.
To relieve valuable storage space: Clearing out unnecessary documents will not only give you back some valuable space, but also make it easier and quicker to find the files you plan to keep. This is also a great time to do a file audit and ensure misfiled documents are returned to their proper location.
To clear out electronics: Unused, obsolete, or broken electronics, hard drives, and thumb drives still contain sensitive data and should be properly disposed of. Shredding your electronic storage media is the only way to ensure the information on them is unreadable and impossible to retrieve. Work with a hard drive and media destruction provider to ensure complete destruction and proper recycling of the component materials.
To accommodate year end: There are some documents that coincide with the calendar year end and should be examined when choosing what to shred. Here are some examples:
- Bank statements and pay stubs: Documents like these are valuable to keep until tax time, but this sensitive information becomes a liability if kept beyond its retention period.
- W-2, W-4 and I-9 forms: Washington State law requires employers to keep payroll records for at least three years. Privacy laws require employers to protect their clients’ personal information to properly dispose of them following the required state and federal retention periods.
- Tax records: The IRS can include returns filed within the last three years in an audit, and in the event of a substantial error, they may go back even further. Keep these records securely stored, but you should regularly dispose of expiring records for security purposes and to keep your records up to date and tidy, using less valuable storage space.
- Credit card and utility bills: These may not be necessary to keep beyond payment due dates, so if you have them filling up space, shred them.
Completing the Job
Professional shredding companies offer a variety of ways to have your residential or business documents securely shredded. Your year-end clear out can likely all be shredded in a single, one-time purge. If your have recurring shredding needs, you may want to consider regularly-scheduled shredding.
CI Information Management is NAID AAA Certified for shredding paper documents, hard drives and media, and products, as well as providing a full suite of records and information management services. If you’re in Southeastern or Central Washington or Northeastern Oregon, we can help you with your year end shred, no matter how big or small of a job it is. Call us 509-586-6090 or complete the form on this page and we’ll help you head into 2022 with a clean (and secure!) slate.