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What if your boss is a hoarder?

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Question: "What if you have a boss with absolutely NO organizational skills?  My boss carried several boxes of files into the office one day because his wife told him to remove them from their garage. They have been sitting in the office (still in the boxes) for more than two years! Every time I try to straighten up his office, he won't let me throw anything away—no matter how old or irrelevant it is. I even had the Records Management folks come talk with him to let him know that keeping some things is detrimental to the business. He still insists that he is right and everyone else is wrong." —I give up

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol December 1, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Hello, has anyone heard of the systems call document management. There are many to choose from, do some research. Then start scanning everything. But remember, when you scan documents you will need an identifier and you will want to be able to search for the doc. Check out the different Systems available, it will be well worth your while. Good Luck!


Amanda December 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Of course, if the boxes block any entry or exit paths, they are a fire hazard. Any safety risk created by the boxes justifies your intervention.

If that is not the issue, I can make an argument either way on this issue.

On one hand, it is important to remember that this person is your boss. Unless you were hired for the purpose of handling the situation with the boxes, leave the issue alone. It sounds like the boxes don’t hold anything you need to perform your job duties, so your main problem is the aesthetic effect on your work space. Not at all unimportant, but certainly not worth over-stepping your bounds.

On the other hand, clutter and disorganization cause stress. That means that if you work 9-5, eight hours of your day are spent in a constantly stressful environment. It effects everyone in your environment and can effect your performance completing your duties. If your boss doesn’t want to part with the boxes, try to negatiate adding a partition wall to keep them out of the work environment.


NonAdmin November 21, 2011 at 8:27 am

Our 2nd in command moved offices close to 10 years ago and now has a dozen or so filing cabinets in their office that she would not let her admin asst put anything in. We are hurting for file space in other depts and they have all those empty cabinets and piles and piles of paper all over the office that no one else knows what they are.

Unbelievable but I really don’t think there is anything you can do without running a risk of getting yourself into trouble.


Alicia November 18, 2011 at 4:50 pm

I would handle (shread) what is in the boxes but leave the empty boxes. He probably never looks in the boxes so as far as he will know everything is still there.


Kelleen November 18, 2011 at 12:33 pm

My former boss was a hoarder, I would clean out his desk and files while he was gone. If I thought something might give him heartburn being tossed, I would scan the paper before shredding. It is consumes less space if they can hoard electronically.
Basically I organized him, softly. He also kept old computer equipment that was obsolete. We took baby steps with disposing of this equipment. You have to push, but be sensitive to when it is time to back off a bit.


Julia November 18, 2011 at 12:29 pm

I am in exactly the same situation. Mounds and mounds of paperwork, notebooks, papers all over the place, she can never find anything, etc. Nothing is neat; everything is askew. Papers fall behind her desk and every inch of file space is jam-packed. I’ve been told that her house is in the same shape with only a small path to walk through.

I look forward to reading suggestions on how to combat this (or if it’s even possible). I’ve seen on TV that this is a mental issue. It certainly is frustrating!


Martha November 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I had a boss with a similar issue. I would wait until he went on vacation and clean off his desk. Many times the documents that were relevant to projects that we had been searching for. So once I had his desk cleaned off, the boxes, etc…I wouldn’t even bother.

The other thing you can do is talk to the department head (if you have a good relationship with him) and make him aware, although you do run the risk of your immediate supervisor getting upset because you threw him under the bus.

Unless it’s an obvious safety or legal issue, I’d probably not worry about it.


B November 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I have the same problem…My boss has been with the company for over 40 years and our files show it. When I ask him if I could send the records to document management he awnsered “When I retire you can do whatever you want with them.” Most people are set in their ways and you have to respect that even if it’s a pain to deal with. Best of luck to you!


Janet November 18, 2011 at 12:18 pm

I’ve had a couple bosses with the same affliction. . . give up and quit stressing about it, they won’t change. I put a lot of his files in an out of the way filing cabinet.


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