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I’m afraid of roller coasters.

So much so, that my family has basically forbidden me from joining them at amusement parks because I’m neurotic mess the entire time.

  • What if the roller coaster derails?”
  • What if you get ejected and plummet to a horrific death?”
  • What if the ride breaks at the top and you get stranded at the top for hours?

The chances of any of those things happening are slim, yet my own fears get in my way. Everyone has a fear of something: whether it’s the dark, heights, or even the unknown. What many people don’t realize is that paper clutter is often a result of fear. We hold onto outdated, unnecessary paperwork because we’re afraid of what might happen….

  • What if I need to reference that?”
  • What if someone finds my paperwork and tries to steal my identity”
  • What if I get audited?”

Fear, of any kind, impacts our lives-plain and simple.

I can avoid going on roller coasters, but you can’t avoid incoming mail. Over coming your fear (or at least learning some strategies of how to manage it) will help you from drowning in paper clutter.

Begin by asking yourself these 3 questions:

  1. Why am I holding onto this?
  2. When was the last time I looked at this?
  3. How easy would it be for me to get a copy if needed?

Fact: We keep more paper than we need. Back in the day, before everything was automated, it made sense to keep paper statements. If you needed to dispute a charge the only tracking method was a paper statement. Nowadays, we can access months (even years) of back statements with the click of a button, eliminating the need to hold onto the paper version.

Tip: Keep Year End Statements and shred the rest. Knowing what’s acceptable to shred will make the process less fearful. For example, there is no need to keep monthly statements for every bill you pay. Once you issue payment, you can shred the bill/statement. Your check (or EFT) is traceable if you ever needed proof of payment.

I use Staples® Mailmate M7 12-Sheet Cross-Cut Shredder ($89.99).


Why I love it: It’s a compact Desktop Shredder that can sit next to a printer, or below a desk. It features jam protection for smooth performance and can shred up to 12 sheets of paper at one time. It also shreds credit cards, CD’s and DVDs!

How I use it: I keep it right near my command center in my kitchen so when I open the mail I can easily shred junk mail that I don’t want. Once I pay my bills, the paper statements get tossed into the shredder saving me hours of time that I used to spend filing papers that never got looked at again!

If you want something a bit more substantial, but don’t have a lot of room to spare, then you may want to consider Staples® Space-Saver 10-Sheet Cross-Cut Shredder . ($149.99)


Why I love it: It’s Ideal for tight workspaces, the extra-compact shredder is made for a small space, features a hassle-free paper feed, and also cuts through staples and credit cards.

If you have a lot of paper that gets shred often, then I recommend Staples ® 12-Sheet Cross-Cut Shredder ($149.99)


Why I love it: In addition to shredding everything from paper to credit cards, it shreds documents twice as fast as traditional shredders saving you hours of time.

Papers lying around your house are an invitation to trouble. In addition to the clutter factor, many bills and statements contain personal information that you wouldn’t want to get out. Staples® makes disposing of these papers as easy as a pressing a button.

If you’re still unsure of what papers you need to keep, just refer to this guide.

10 Things to Keep Permanently:

  1. Birth and death certificates
  2. Social security cards
  3. Pension/Retirement plan documents
  4. ID cards and passports
  5. Marriage license/Divorce papers
  6. Business license
  7. Medical Records
  8. Wills, living wills, and powers of attorney
  9. Vehicle titles and loan documents
  10. House deeds and mortgage documents

5 Things to Keep Temporarily (then shred!):

  1. Tax records and receipts (keep for seven years)
  2. Home purchase, sale, or improvement documents (keep for at least six years after you sell)
  3. Social security statements (until you get an updated copy)
  4. Annual insurance policy documents (replace with updated copy and shred once the dates expire)
  5. Retirement plan statements (401(k), 529, IRA, etc) (once you receive year end statements you can shred the previous months)

If what your holding onto is not on this list, chances are it’s safe to shred. Sometimes all we need is the permission to let things go.

Happy Organizing!