Ideally you'd shred those types of papers immediately. If you can do this, this is the easiest way to keep up with your shredding pile.
However, I know how life can get in the way. You may not want to keep your home shredder hooked up all the time (such as for safety reasons with young kids around) or because it just isn't feasible for you to shred daily as part of your routine.
That's OK. If you can't shred immediately you need to designate a space in your home, preferably close to your paper shredder, assuming you have one, to hold that paperwork until you do have time to shred it.
Plus, even if you do shred daily, when you do periodically purge older papers, such as in file drawers, you'll inevitably run across more stuff that needs to be shredded, and these things will also need a temporary home while they wait for their turn in your shredder.
Also, if you don't choose to have a shredder in your own home, but instead use a shredding service to periodically destroy all this stuff, you need such a holding area for discarded paperwork even more.
Why is this so important? Because if you don't have a designated home for this "to be shredded" paperwork you'll pile it on your kitchen counter, or another flat surface, and then you'll not only have avalanches of paper piles, as it quickly accumulates, but then you'll have to go through all this stuff again, trying to decide what to save versus to get rid of.
So as I said before, this mission is quite simple and straightforward, but yet it is vitally important to set up a good overall system in your home for keeping paper clutter at bay from now on.
Once you've set up this holding area for paperwork you've decided must be shredded, the other key to making this work is actually shredding regularly, so these piles of stuff don't become too large.
I've provided a few tips below on that issue, plus provided some pictures and cautionary tales from some readers below to help you keep up with your shredding pile from now on.
As I mentioned above once you set up this shredding area in your home what you don't want is for all that paper that is destined for destruction to pile up to overwhelming levels.
If you let it get out of control it can take literally days to shred it all, if you do it yourself.
Here's a picture from a reader, Nicole, who spent 3 days shredding paper that she found all around her home when she was doing the paper decluttering portions of the Declutter 365 missions. She said, "tadah, this is what 3 days of shredding looks like. I told you all it was BAD."
So what should you do instead of letting it accumulate to gargantuan proportions? You know the answer, because it is simple, at least in theory. Deal with it regularly, when the piles are still small.
So how do we do this in practice to make it easy?
The answer is that if you get too much paper clutter that needs to be shredded all at once, for example if you do a huge purge of your filing cabinet, for example, you should at least consider using a shredding service for that huge pile. This costs some money, but you just drop off the paper and they charge you, typically per pound, and shred it right in front of you with fast industrial machines, so you don't have to do it yourself, sheet by sheet like you have to with many home paper shredders.
Plus, when you shred a lot of papers in one session with home shredders you run the risk of overheating them, and burning them out. You really can't do too much at once, the shredder won't let you, which can be frustrating. That's yet another reason a shredding service can come to your rescue when things get pretty out of control.
But I do suggest having a paper shredder of your own in your home, and if you keep up with the shredding pile regularly at home shredding can be quite efficient (plus you don't then have a time period where all your papers do pile up to large stacks while waiting for the next time you take it to a shredding service).
So one method is to shred daily, as you sort through the daily mail and other papers that come into your home. But if you can't do this you need to set up a designated time to do your shredding routinely.
You can choose the amount of times between when you shred. I personally suggest the maximum time between shredding sessions be a month, although some people who don't get a lot of junk mail or other influx of paper can do it quarterly.
While I think a month is the maximum amount of time to let these piles accumulate, I believe that the ideal time between shredding sessions is a week. That means you should set aside time each week to do this shredding.
That may sound hard to do, but this is really a minor task, and to make it easier I suggest you batch this task in with many other paperwork and financial tasks that you will do during your weekly paperwork session. (That's an upcoming daily mission that we'll work on creating a routine for next week!)
Declutter Your Shredding Area Today If You've Got A Lot Of Papers Waiting To Be Destroyed
If, today, you already have a shredding area set up, but your shredding pile is a bit out of control, take the time today to tame the pile.
Here's a picture from a reader, Sally, who did this, and sent in her photo to show her results.
Sally said, "OK I am making a start! . . . I made a start by clearing the 'corner of shame' where we used to dump stuff that needed shredding then ignore it until it got out of hand. I moved the shredder into the dining room/office next to the filing cabinet, shredded most of it, and created temporary files which eventually will go in the red cabinet once that's set up. I am hoping to get to a stage where paper never enters the living room!"
Are You Ready To Declutter Your Home?
I hope seeing these pictures has inspired you to take control of your shredding pile and begin the process of controlling paper clutter within your home.
When you begin to declutter the feeling you get is contagious, so if you're loving the results you're getting I would encourage you to keep going.
Just pick and choose the ones you want to do, that will make a big impact in your home. But if you want someone else to tell you the order you can also grab the 15 minute daily decluttering mission calendars and follow along as we all get our homes clutter free together!