Paper Pile Purge Series – Paper Shredding

Aaaah Paper Clutter! It’s everywhere, always showing up in piles in the mailbox, in backpacks, somehow taking over every inch of counter and desk space.  I try to keep it in check, but it still can easily get out of hand. Case in point. A couple months back, we redid the floors in our house and also painted almost the whole interior. So we had to move everything in every room. In the process, I took everything that was in a place it wasn’t supposed to be and put it in a lovely pile in my office. I’m not talking about things just laying around. I mean every single misplaced item out of drawers, closets, cabinets, under the bed. The pile was embarrassingly large:


Now I normally wouldn’t handle an organizing situation like this. Normally, I would go through each drawer, etc individually and put things away accordingly. However, we were doing a big house project and I just didn’t have time to clean out my entire house right then.  I had to improvise! By improvise, I mean literally throwing things in a pile and running out of the room with my eyes closed so I wouldn’t have to deal with it.

After the major house projects were completed, I spent several weeks going through the pile.  The donate box and trash can were my best friends. I managed to whittle the giant mountain of stuff down to two piles. The larger one was all papers. This included folders, pictures, brochures, receipts, anything made of paper. Here is what this pile looks like:

Paper Pile Purge

Still daunting for sure. But not impossible! Over the next few weeks, I’m going to break down the steps I use to clear paper clutter.

This week: Catch up on my shredding.


If you follow the blog, you might now I’m slightly obsessed with my shredder.  It’s awesome. A lean, mean cross cut shredding machine. I’m half tempted to write a poem about it, I use it so often.  So this week, I’m catching up on my shredding. I try to stay on top of it, but I still have a folder labeled ‘to shred’ that ends up bulging every few months or so.

I go through all of my folders every 6 months and pull out anything I can shred in addition to the daily stuff that comes in through the mail. That way, my file cabinets don’t get too full.

Shredding Tips:

1) If you have a shredder, take this week to catch up. Go through your files and discard old utility bills, credit card offers or other items you don’t need to keep, but don’t want others to see.

2) If you don’t have a shredder and are looking to purchase one, I recommend a cross-cut shredder. This cuts the paper both vertically and horizontally and is a much better option when it comes to protecting your privacy.

3) Instead of throwing most papers into the trash, shred anything with an account number, financial offer, or any other personal information.

Happy Shredding!

Shredding Tips


11 thoughts on “Paper Pile Purge Series – Paper Shredding

    • It’s awful isn’t it? Paper just takes over our lives. It helps to have good systems, but even then it can get overwhelming!

  1. So…. how long are you “supposed” to keep utility bills, etc? I think taxes is 7 years (or is it 10?) , and bank statements were also at least 3… but those “little” bills – I struggle to know how long they need to be kept. Ugh.

    • For taxes, I keep at least 7 years, even though I think the statute of limitations in a lot of states is 6 years. I don’t keep a utility bill longer than 1 year though!

  2. great ideas. Paper clutter can really get out of hand. I have always kept receipts and I am glad I did because I was recently involved in a court battle and I needed to produce receipts for items purchased years ago. I advise all young players to keep receipts for major life purchases for life. Shred everything else though. :)

    • Thank you so much! I agree, there are certain things you have to keep for a while, like certain receipts and real estate documents. I also have a fireproof safe for my tax returns and other important documents. Most stuff is shreddable though!

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  4. Erin, two weeks ago, I emptied the top drawers of our kitchen (too many papers there) & the drawers of our living room dresser, embarrassing how much useless stuff I have accumulated! I have a pile similar but a bit smaller than yours at the landing of the stairs in baskets! I need a shredder! :-)

    • My shredder is one of the best purchases I’ve ever made! I don’t know what I would do without it because I’m so paranoid about my information being stolen! The papers can get out of control even with a shredder though! :)

  5. As you can see I am a little behind on my blog reading. This is all great advice Erin. I have pinned your great image with the shredder tips. Very helpful! ~Thea

    • Thank you Thea! I’m way behind on my blog reading too! I’ve been meaning to respond to a couple of your recent posts. I will soon!Thanks for the pin :)

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