To some people, the idea of standing at a manual paper shredder feeding pile after pile of documents into the machine, a few sheets at a time, strikes them as a dull and repetitive chore. But not for everyone.
Let’s put it out there. Do you ever find yourself looking forward to the next time you will have to go to the shredder to blitz a load of unwanted paperwork? Do you have a little smile to yourself as you flick the power on and hear the smooth mechanical buzz of the cutters spinning round?
Do you get an inexplicable sense of satisfaction when you feed your sheets into the jaws and watch what was whole get dissected into a thousand tiny pieces in a matter of seconds?
Let us assure you - you’re not alone. There is something intrinsically gratifying about the grinding, chomping way a paper shredder obliterates all that paper - the same way your inner child still loves popping bubble wrap packaging whenever you get something fragile through the post (and don’t even try to pretend you don’t!)
There’s more, however, to the joys of paper shredding than it providing one of those quirky little pick-me-ups that help us get through the working day. Whether you’re using an office shredder or a home shredder, it is also a very useful and practical way to dispose of documents that you no longer need. Practical solutions to the many challenges we face day in, day out bring a satisfaction of their own.
Here are some of the main reasons why paper shredding can leave you with a warm glow of accomplishment.
1. Shredding protects sensitive data
Everyone needs to take data protection seriously these days, both as private citizens and businesses. Identity theft and fraud are growing issues, which involve personal details like names, addresses, emails and account details being stolen and then used for illegal purposes. At its worst, identity fraud can result in money being stolen from you or serious crimes being committed in your name.
Identity theft isn’t just an online issue. Your personal details can be stolen just as easily from a bank statement, utility bill or a print out of a purchase receipt that arrives with something you ordered online as they can from a hacked account or phishing email. The best way to guard against this is to invest in a home shredder and shred everything containing personal details before you throw it away, so you can be sure no one can ever get hold of your information for illicit purposes.
2. It helps you comply with the law
For businesses and other types of organisations, there is an extra incentive to take identity and other forms of data theft seriously - it’s now a legal requirement to do so. New data protection and privacy regulations like the European-wide GDPR place a heavy responsibility on organisations to look after any and all private and personal data they collect and use, both online and off.
Modern businesses rely heavily on data, much of it related to customers and potential customers. Whether it is order and shipping schedules for online sales, lists of loyalty scheme members or contacts for targeted marketing campaigns, private, personal information printed off for use anywhere in the business must be protected as robustly as digital data. That includes strict protocols to ensure such details are only seen by those who need to see them, extending as far as appropriate data-secure disposal once paperwork is finished with.
Shredding is the perfect solution. It renders sensitive information contained on documents unreadable before they are thrown out. Modern paper shredders come with various security ratings relating to how effectively they obscure information (which amounts the size of the pieces a sheet is chopped up into). For data protection compliance, the consensus is that a minimum rating of P4 is required, which is equivalent to a single sheet being cut into 400 pieces.
3. It helps you stay organised
One of the big problems with paperwork is that it has a habit of just growing and growing. Most paper documents have a finite life in terms of how long they are actually useful for - how often do you get handed a printed sheet that you look at once and don’t need any more? What do you do with it then?
There are basically two options - throw it away or put it away somewhere to be dealt with later. If you choose the former, you have to consider data protection issues as discussed above. If you decide to squirrel paperwork away somewhere for safekeeping, sooner or later you have to contend with the fact that you only have a limited amount of space.
Some documents do need storing and archiving for a variety of reasons, of course. But if you get into the habit of just keeping paperwork because you’re not sure what else to do with it, with the best will in the world you will end up losing all semblance of order. Storage boxes will become full, piles will grow on your desk, sooner or later you won’t know what is what or where anything is. Not only is that stressful, it’s also poor data management practice.
For your own sense of calm and order, a much better option is to get into the habit of shredding paper documents as soon as they are finished with. It’s a clean, efficient, secure means of disposal, finely cut shreds of paper condense down easily into a bin bag and are easy to get rid of, and the end result is a clear, uncluttered workspace that means you can get on with doing your job with one less thing to worry about.
And that, of course, brings with it the satisfaction of a job well done