How To Manage Document Destruction In Your Home Office
It’s no secret that you can simply toss old paperwork from your home office, since identity thieves can often find sensitive information on it and use it to wreak havoc for you or your clients. The problem is finding a safe way to dispose of paper waste and ensuring that you get in the habit of doing it properly. The following guide can help.
Step 1: Create a system
You are more likely to destroy paperwork properly if you have a system in place. The simplest way to do this is to set up a collection site in your home office. To save space, purchase a three-bin recycling station. These are usually labeled glass, plastic, and paper, but you are going to change the labels to trash, recycling, and shredding. Now when you toss your trash, you will have a handy, no-effort way to make sure your shredding doesn’t end up in the trash. As for the recycling? Offices tend to mainly produce paper anyway, so you can do any minor sorting when you dump it into the main bin.
Step 2: Schedule annual purges
While it is likely that you will collect some sensitive paper on a day-to-day basis – this includes bills, junk mail labels, receipts, and anything with client names or addresses – the bulk of your shredding may come from old files. Keep tax returns at least three years, or four years if you have employees, just in case you are ever audited. You should also keep client files and invoices for the same length of time, since they are sometimes necessary to prove income. Some industries, like the medical or insurance field, may have specific requirements for keeping paperwork, so check with the licensing board in your area. Once you know how long to keep the paperwork, set a calendar reminder each year to spend one day purging all files older than the ones that you need to keep.
Step 3: Choose a destruction method
You have two options – save up the paperwork or destroy it a little at a time as you collect it. If you opt to destroy it a little at a time, you can use a personal paper shredder or burn the items. Burning paper can be risky. It can lead to chimney fires when done indoors, but if done outdoors on a grill or fire pit, some paper may escape and blow away, carrying sensitive information with it. A personal shredder is a better idea, but make sure you get a strong commercial-style model so it doesn’t become jammed. The best option is to schedule professional paper shredding services. Many of these services will come to your home to perform the task, while others allow you to bring in your shredding. Simply save up the paperwork until you have enough to make it worthwhile.