How to Dispose of Everything Safely When Cleaning Out Your Office

Clutter isn’t just unsightly, it can be expensive.  Beyond all the time it takes to find important items under a deluge of clutter, there are emotional and financial costs associated with living in a chaotic, disorganized environment.

Very Messy Office

Is Clutter Making You Sick?

According to Dr. Edward F. Group III, there is a correlation between obesity and clutter. Obesity can lead to a broad range of health and emotional issues. Dr. Group believes that both clutter and excess weight are outward signs that a person is insulating themselves from the harsh realities of life. He also says there is a significant emotional component that seems to give people a false sense of control, something that many people desire, but cannot quite grasp.

If today is the day you want to reclaim control and tackle the clutter in your home, one of the best places to begin is in your home office.

What to Keep and What to Toss

Many people hold on to receipts, warranties, old documents and other paperwork fearing the moment they toss it, they will need it. Keep all warranties and ownership papers for working appliances, vehicles and other real property. Discard them when the warranty expires. Keep a notebook with model and serials numbers for future service needs. File it in a safe place for future reference.

Keep receipts and documents that support your tax returns for seven years. If your documents are for a business, consult your tax accountant to determine which items to hold onto. Ask whether the originals can be scanned onto a cloud backup or external drive.

Disposing of the Digital Discards

While it is commendable to want to repurpose old items or list them on, electronics pose some safety issues. Scammers and con artists are actively looking for ways to steal your identity. Identity protection online is essential to surfing safety, but there are steps you should take to strengthen your security when disposing of old devices and appliances that store personal data.

According to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, it is essential for you to destroy your digital memory before discarding any storage or computing device.

  • Wipe all computer hard drives with software designed to eliminate all footprints. If you are uncertain if the process worked, physically destroy the hard drive; then take everything to your local technology recycling center.
  • Take flash drives apart and break up the pieces before tossing.
  • Break CDs and DVDs into pieces; then discard.

Lock It or Lose It?

Don’t assume documents are safe in your own home. Keep all sensitive documents locked in a file cabinet or lockbox.


Personal shredders are inexpensive. After shredding all your old documents, use the shreds for packing material. If you don’t need packing material, drop the shreds at your local recycling center for processing. Shred everything that could lead to identity theft, including anything that shows your name, social security number, bank or charge account number, birth date and any other identifiable information.

If you have volumes of paper to shred, consider visiting a shredding center or contact your recycling manager to inquiry about a free community shredding day.

If you have been feeling tired and lethargic, your cluttered office may be to blame. When done properly, cleaning out your home office can improve your health, increase your safety, save you time, money and frustration. You don’t have to do it all at once; just pick a place to start—you will be glad you did.