(MS) — Boxes of old documents, stacks of old hard drives and computers, and containers of confidential information all find themselves in storage. While you may think this will allow you to access them easily, you probably end up forgetting about them and continue to stockpile even more.
This kind of storage poses health, safety and security risks. By hoarding a lifetime’s worth of documents, you risk exposure to mold and bacteria, along with the added stress and tension of having to deal with so much piling up in the house. In addition, you risk your safety by having so many items (mostly paper) in one place, which often poses as a fire hazard. Hoarding documents may also cause accidents if boxes fall on you or you injure yourself attempting to access them.
But the biggest threat posed by hoarding documents is doing so increases one’s risk of being victimized by fraud or identity theft. Having a mountain of documents may lead frustrated people to simply throw out a few boxes with the trash. But clever fraudsters are known to dumpster dive and pull documents that contain valuable personal information.
According to Shred-it, a leader in information security and document destruction, decluttering on a regular basis should be a priority. Not only does it help prevent the risks mentioned above, decluttering also improves productivity and motivation and boosts mental health and creativity.
Use these tips to begin editing your storage:
• Tackle one box at a time. Before you know it, the pile will shrink and you will feel less stressed.
• Create a document management process to outline how you will deal with all documents from when you receive them to the time you destroy them, thus preventing a stockpile from even forming.
• Begin digitizing and reorganizing your files. Once you begin reorganizing, you will realize there are things that you shouldn’t be holding on to at all and be able to better manage your information in the long run.
• Purge your storage regularly. Trusted third parties like Shred-it can help to clean out your storage on a regular basis, ensuring the mountain of files doesn’t keep growing.