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How To Avoid Drowning In Paper

drowning-in-paperWhen you look around your office or home, what would you say is the one thing you don’t want to see? The one thing on your to-do list that you really wish would just disappear of it’s own accord one day? For most people, that one thing is the ‘paperwork’ pile. Whether it’s an overflowing in-tray, the bag waiting to be shredded or the stack of post under the coffee table, paper can sometimes feel like the bane of your existence, especially when you’re trying to find something. But when you finally get round to sitting down to sort it, how do you know what’s safe to keep and what should go, and how do you stop the pile regenerating in 3 months time?

Sort Your Important Documents

It goes without saying that there are some documents you just shouldn’t throw away. Things like birth certificates, marriage and divorce certificates, pension plan documents, passports, wills etc. All of these documents should be kept safe, which means not being shoved in a pile in the office with the old letters and bills. Invest in a small fire proof safe and make sure all of your important documents are stored inside. Your important documents should be anything valuable, irreplaceable or vitally important to you and your family in the event of emergency or death. As you go through your documents you will always know what is important with a capital I and belongs in the safe.

The Filing Drawer

There is usually a spot in every home or office that finds itself home to the ‘sort it later’ pile. This pile tends to be full of bills, official documents, letters and all sorts of other bits and pieces. Going through this pile is usually what stops people from actually sorting their paperwork, but once it’s done you can start working on ensuring it doesn’t come back again. The second stage after sorting your Important documents is to separate everything for the ‘filing’ drawer. This can be an actual filing drawer in your house or a folding box file, as long as it has several separate sections with labels. In this filing drawer you need sections for each type of document – for example, instead of ‘household’, you would have ‘water’, ‘electricity’, ‘gas’, ‘TV’ under which you would file all of your agreements, statements and any extra letters you need to keep. A section for ‘car’ for any vehicle documents or finance agreements is also useful, along with ‘home’ for your house deeds, mortgage statements etc. With this system you can easily file away new paperwork as soon as it arrives, and when you are on the phone to the water board and they ask for your most recent statement it’s really easy to find. It’s also useful having a section in there for payslips, tax information, receipts for valuable items like electronics or jewellery, medical information and insurance documents. All of these are important to keep, but can create one nasty looking pile if they aren’t organised.

The Shredding Pile

Once you’ve sorted out the important documents and the things you need to file, you should have a fairly thin pile. In this pile will be junk mail, monthly statements from phone suppliers, banks and credit cards, maybe some receipts, bank withdrawal or deposit slips and other miscellaneous paperwork. Most of this paperwork is only needed for a short amount of time, so once you’ve reconciled it it’s just taking up space. But that doesn’t mean you should just throw them in the bin. Anything with your (or anyone else’s) name, address, bank details or NI number should be put into a black bag labelled ‘shred’ and either put through your own shredder (which can be very time consuming and not as secure) or handed over to a professional shredding company for secure and thorough destruction. This avoids any attempts at fraud or identity theft that could be made using this information, and it’s one of the easiest steps in the process – just a phone call! There will be a few things, like product manuals for things you don’t own any more or scraps of paper with nothing but ‘call Lucy’ scribbled on them that can go straight on the bin, but just make sure there is nothing on those papers that you wouldn’t want a complete stranger to know.

Once you’ve tackled the pile of paperwork the first time and implemented these systems, you will never again find yourself drowning in paperwork. Anything that needs to be kept can be instantly filed away, and any other documents can be reconciled and then shredded. If you don’t own a shredder or can’t face the chore of getting it all done, we would be happy to help in your de-cluttering effort. Just get in touch today and find out how we can help you get rid of your pile of papers and help it stay down

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The Evolution Of Shredding As A Service

shredded paper

Last month we wrote a delightful blog post about the evolution of the shredder. If you haven’t read it yet, go ahead, we’ll wait here. Got it? Good. We started at the invention of the very first shredder and wound our way to the present day paper eating machines and all the variations that have come along since. But of course, some of those shredding models would be completely impractical to have in your home or office or have been designed specifically with commercial use in mind. That brings us quite nicely onto our next subject and something we know quite a bit about. The birth and evolution of shredding as a service.

The Birth Of Shredding As A Service

Shredding as a service may not have been around since the beginning, but it’s been around for much longer than you would think. The first shredding service emerged onto the scene in 1988, specialising in destroying paper documents for businesses in small quantities. They found themselves in high demand, as businesses didn’t want to spend hours bent over a shredder that could only take 5 pages at a time and push them out again at 2.5 metres per minute (that’s your standard £15-£20 office shredder). It’s hard work and it’s really inefficient – time is money after all. So instead one enterprising man decided to buy himself a big shredding machine and a warehouse and started destroying people’s documents for a small fee.

Since that moment shredding as a service exploded. Shredding warehouses sprung up like weeds and the demand kept coming for more. Not long after the shredding as a service system was first adopted, shredding companies started looking for ways to stand out from the crowd. Mobile shredding services were tested and eventually rolled out with their own unique equipment, and mobile shredding trucks started offering on-site shredding solutions. This meant businesses didn’t need to deliver their bags of paper to a warehouse to be destroyed; they could just bag it up and wait for the truck to visit. Automated retail kiosks were trailed to give the public access to industrial shredding capability, but while these were fairly popular in the US they didn’t take off in the UK.

Moving Into The Modern Age

 

Of course, in recent years there has been a big push towards the ‘paperless office’, attempting to get businesses to cut down on the paper they are generating or taking in, therefore reducing the environmental impact. We’re also seeing a generation of millennial emerging into the world, 34% of whom see data theft as a ‘victimless crime’, making high quality, easy to use shredding services all the more essential. But it’s not just paper that contains sensitive information that needs to be destroyed. Now we are seeing more and more professional shredding services incorporating digital or other methods of data destruction. Many are investing in new shredding machines that can tackle USB sticks, hard drives and even entire computers. With waves of cyber crime and high profile data thefts on the news every few weeks, media destruction is becoming a big part of the modern shredding service.

Today, 6 or 7 out of 10 medium to large sized business will use shredding as a service to keep up with their data destruction needs and we expect that number to increase over the next few years. Shredding within the office environment is often regarded as the job reserved when you’ve run out of other things to do, or a job reserved for the work experience kid. It’s time consuming, no one really wants to do it and why spend hours feeding a shredder when a professional service could have your entire pile destroyed in minutes. At Hungry Shredder we have a range of shredding services to suit your needs, all designed with security and simplicity in mind. To find out more, get in touch today and feed the hungry shredder.

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The Evolution Of The Shredder

Paper shredder

The office shredder is one of those things that many people consider as just office equipment. Yet this simple machine is what stands between many individuals and businesses and the possibility of identity fraud. The shredder has become an incredibly important element in office security for any business, but have you ever wondered how the humble paper shredder came to be?

The Birth of The Shredder

Before the invention of the paper shredder there was still a need to destroy paper, especially if it contained important or dangerous information. Because there was no other way to destroy the tough paper, these documents were often burnt. For example, during the Second World War governments burned all papers, books and documents that contained sensitive information. There are numerous accounts of soldiers burning documents that contained intelligence about their operations so that it could not be passed on to their enemies, and often books and papers were burnt as an act of barbarism or conquer. For a long time this was the only option for effectively destroying paper.

The idea for the very first paper shredder can be traced back to 1909, when Abbot Augustus Low filed for a patent on his invention, the ‘waste paper receptacle’, which was designed to improve the method of disposing of waste paper. However, Low’s invention was never actually manufactured – it was all just theory. The first physical shredder was invented and manufactured in Germany by Adolf Ehinger in 1935. He based his design on a hand pasta maker and he invented it as a way of destroying his anti-Nazi propaganda to avoid inquiries from the authorities. After the war, Ehinger was able to market and sell his shredders to government agencies and financial institutions who were looking to switch from the hand crank to electric motor as a way of destroying confidential documents. Government agencies soon deemed the use of strip-cut shredders essential for the destruction of important files.  In 1959 Ehinger’s company (EBA Maschinenfabrik) manufactured the first cross cut paper shredder, a system that the same company still produces to this day.

The Modern Shredding Solution

Until the mid 1980’s it was very rare for paper shredders to be used by anyone who wasn’t a government entity. It wasn’t until the US Supreme Court ruled that it wasn’t illegal to search and seize rubbish left for collection outside the home that paper shredders became popular with home users.  This came at a time when anti-burning advocates groups concerned about the environment were rising in popularity, along with the heightened awareness of identity theft and proper rubbish disposal. This resulted in thousands of home owners and private citizens rushing to get their own paper shredding machines at home.

Now of course, shredders have become a commonplace item, and there is more than one method available to us. Strip cut has begun to fall out of favour, criticised for it’s lack of security, and cross cut has become the most popular option for home users. For industrial shredders, there are also particle cutters (which shred paper to confetti sizes pieces), disintegrators, hammermills, piece-and-tear and grinders, all of which can reduce a piece of A4 to dust.

The humble office shredder has been around for over 80 years and it has undergone a series of evolutions to become the efficient machine we know today. But this is just part of the story. To find out how shredding has evolved from home to industrial shredding and given life to shredding as a service, stay tuned for next months’ blog. And remember, if you need some documents shredded for you, or would just like to know more about our shredding machines, get in touch today to find out more.

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5 Ways To Maximise Your Potential Working From Home

 

work from home

Your home office can be many things. It can be a place to work without interruptions, the base for your wider operations or a way to get an efficient tax break (isn’t use of home allowance wonderful?). Whatever your home office means to you, it should be a place where you can feel productive and get work done, which is why it’s such a shame that one of the major problems with working from home is the amount of time we tend to waste. There are many reasons that time seems to slip by unnoticed in a home office, and it isn’t always because of the amount of work we are doing. So if you find yourself struggling to get everything done, try one of these tips to maximise the efficiency in your home office.

Actually Claim A Space

It’s amazing just how many of those who work at home don’t actually have a designated space to do so. So your first step should be to claim (if you don’t have one already) a space for your office. You need a spot within your home that is yours and yours alone so you can be completely free from distractions so that you can make the most of your work. This shouldn’t be a table in the family room or ‘your spot’ on the sofa – there should be enough room for a small desk and space for filing if you need it. There are even some amazing tutorials out there for turning your cupboards into an office if you’re handy with tools. Ensure your family knows that when you’re using this room you shouldn’t be disturbed and that you are working. This room should be treated like an external office would be – your own space that is completely dedicated to work.

Get Rid Of Distractions

Working from home comes with it’s own unique set of distractions. It could be the stray dog toy under the desk or the TV in the corner singing to you to just watch one more show. Keeping the treadmill by your desk because it saves space in the house might sound like a great idea, but it might also drive you crazy thinking about working out (and how you should be doing more of it) instead of actually working. To make the most of your office space, get rid of anything that might be distracting or negative so that you can focus on working.

Establish Your Work Hours

One of the best things about working from home is the ability to set your own working hours, but this can be a bit of a double edged sword. On the one hand you can be flexible around home commitments or illness, but on the other hand the temptation to work at any time is always there. To truly maximize your efficiency and productivity, you should have set working hours. You might want to work a typical 9-5, or maybe you want to try working 10-6, or 8-4 instead. Once you have found the hours that work best for you, you need to ensure you stick to them. Make sure you are at your desk at 8am and finish what you’re doing at 5pm every day, if that is your set schedule. The idea of sleeping in and start later might seem appealing, or maybe you want to stretch your hours and just work that little bit longer, but these little things do add up. To make sure you don’t end up working 9am-9pm every day it’s important to keep an eye on your hours from the beginning.

Separate Home And Work Computers 

In terms of claiming your home office tax deductions this step is pretty much essential, but it also helps your focus to keep your work and play machines separate. Get yourself an inexpensive machine to be your personal or family computer and keep your work computer off limits to everyone else. Put passwords in place and make sure you change them regularly. This is important for the confidentiality of your clients and your work, but it also means you can do research without a hundred ads popping up for things your kids were looking at and you don’t need to go searching through files to find what you’re looking for.

To Do Lists

The to-do list is without a doubt the saviour of anyone working from home. Keeping track of everything you need to do within your business is essential to your organisation, but there is another to-do list that is equally important. This is your household to-do list. The point of this to-do list is to take all the non-work related things that jump into your head throughout the day and put them out of your mind so that you can focus. So if you suddenly remember something you need to do when you get home, just write it on the home list and you don’t have to think about it anymore. This means you can focus on your work and be more productive, and you will never finish a day and be annoyed that you can’t remember that thing you thought of at 11am that you needed to do.

 

Often what works for one person’s home office is completely different to another’s, so it’s important to experiment with ways of working until you find the one that works for you. Very few people know straight away what the best routine is for them when working from home, so the trick is to try out different working patterns and routines all the time. You should leave your home office at the end of your day feeling accomplished and ready to relax and enjoy your free time. It’s one of the perks of working from home after all!

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Rugby Fever? Win a signed England shirt!

Prize Draw now Closed: Win a signed England rugby shirt with Hungry Shredder

That’s right, we’ve managed to get our hands on an official England rugby shirt, signed by all 33 of the 2014/15 England squad. Comes complete with a certificate of authenticity. It’s size XL.

We’re going to give it away – and you have the chance to win it. No purchase necessary!

To enter the free prize draw, simply sign up to our newsletter. We want to be able to let you know the news of our expansion which is coming soon. And once you’ve done that, why not check out our secure shredding services for homes and small businesses?

One lucky winner will be drawn at random from our newsletter mailing list on Saturday 3rd October. Good luck!

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How long should I keep records for?

One of the most common questions that customers ask us is “How long should I keep my records for?” It can be confusing working out which documents you need to keep and which documents to send for shredding.

At Hungry Shredder we like to keep things simple but we do advise customers to obtain professional advice (for example, from your solicitor or accountant) regarding record keeping as it will depend on your individual circumstances.

Here are a few links we have found to guidance on record keeping from the UK Government. We hope that you find them helpful!

Individuals

Keeping your pay and tax records (gov.uk)

Businesses

Keeping pay and tax records if you are self employed (gov.uk)

Keeping records for business: What you need to know (HMRC)

New pension rules and record keeping (The Pensions Regulator)