Tips for Planning a Paper Purge

The Evolution of Paper

A messy stack of office documents and papers on a table.Paper came into existence around 105 BC when the Chinese created it from hemp and later from bark, bamboo and other fibrous plants. Paper eventually replaced clay tablets, papyrus, and animal skin as a writing surface. Paper was brought to America, which embraced this invention, and the US now uses about 90 million tons of paper every year.

It Keeps on Growing

Does it feel like your paper accumulation is multiplying like rabbits in your office and you’re becoming overwhelmed by it? As it continues to grow, are you finding that your available space is shrinking and your files are becoming difficult to find and manage? If this is the case, this may be the perfect time to initiate a one-time purge shredding project. Below are our tips for success.

Tips for a Successful Purge Shredding Project

1. Form a Plan

Efficiency is in the planning. So first, make a plan.

  • Find a local, NAID AAA Certified shredding company to destroy your documents in compliance with federal and state regulations. Request a Certificate of Destruction for your records in case you should be asked to prove your compliance later.
  • If you have recruited others to help with the purge shredding project, great! Make sure they understand the plan and their role in it.

2. Create Piles of Files

When pulling documents for your one-time purge, place them in one of three piles:

  • The Save Pile: This includes documents like medical information, insurance forms, tax returns, deeds, certificates, historical photographs, and the like. Even though you can scan these papers, some documents must be original to be considered authentic.
  • The Scan Pile: These documents can be scanned and the originals discarded, including bills, receipts, invoices, and non-historical photographs. Scan these to PDF before they are added to the shred pile to keep the process efficient.
  • The Shred Pile: Place all other documents here to be destroyed. Adopt a “when in doubt, shred” policy for paperwork you don’t need to keep. If you shred any documents that fall into this category, you don’t need to work about whether they contain sensitive information or not; they go directly to a locked shred collection container.

Keep in mind that saving any documents with private information for longer than their legal retention period puts your business at risk of a data breach as well as being non-compliant. If you’re not sure what should be shredded and when, consult your shredding company. You should be able to depend on them as your compliance partner.

3. Consider Eliminating Paper

After spending valuable time purging your paper, you know that you will eventually be right back where you started if you don’t make a change. Newly-printed documents will promptly replace what you have just purged.

Here are some steps you can take to decrease your paper use:

  • Receive your bills and statements digitally instead of in paper format. This will de-clutter the mailbox and reduce the need to shred this sensitive information.
  • Pay bills online instead of using paper checks. This eliminates the check, envelope, and the cost to mail it.
  • Switch to digital forms and electronic communications, creating and storing information digitally wherever possible and only printing it when necessary.
  • Create a “recycle or respond” system. Anytime a paper document arrives, make an immediate decision to either recycle it or respond to it. Unwanted papers, flyers, and notices should be deposited in a nearby shredding collection container to be destroyed during a regularly-scheduled shredding service appointment and sent to the recycling plant to be made into recycled paper products.

4. Reorganize Your Filing System

Make sure your file system is well organized. Eliminate redundancy and shred unnecessary files. Combine similar files for easy location and retrieval. Your file cabinet capacity should be similar to your storage needs to avoid file cabinets stretching beyond capacity.

A well-organized filing system will help your business run smoothly and efficiently, creating a more positive environment to work in. It will also save money in the long run by using less of your valuable floor space.

CI Information Management is locally-owned and operated, offering NAID AAA Certified mobile shredding services throughout southeastern and central Washington state and northeastern Oregon. Whether you need one-time purge shredding or regularly-scheduled shredding, we securely shred onsite at your location in our mobile shredding truck. For more information or a service quote, simply give us a call at 509-586-6090 or complete the form on this page and one of our friendly shredding experts will help you.