Are You a Maniac Hoarder?

 In Assess & Protect


Q: I’m getting buried at work by all the administrative paperwork that needs to get done. My managers take care of a lot of the paperwork for their own departments. Yet, I can see that they’re getting overwhelmed too. Do you have any suggestions for how to tackle it all?

A: That’s a pretty loaded question and we have lots of tips and techniques that we use to help with that, so let’s pare it down to give you a good example. You can then take our example and apply the same principles to the other areas of your operation

Since we’re in the business of making HR easy for small businesses, we’ll start there. As you know, whether you’re an owner, a manager, or an employee, there can be a lot of paperwork that comes with every employee. In case you hadn’t thought about it before, this paperwork starts waaayy before you even hire someone. A lot of people become paper hoarders because they don’t know how to organize and process it all. Are you a maniac hoarder of paperwork?


Let’s take John. He’s the owner of a small business in Nebraska and has been in business for over 30 years. Think he might have some old employee paperwork stashed in a rack in the storage shed behind his offices? You bet he did. Notice we said “did.” John is now the proud owner of a cleaned up storage shed that has more room for his tools, supplies and products.

The first question we asked him was “How is having all these boxes of papers impacting your business and how is it making you feel?”

His answer: “It’s got me worried that I might need something, can’t find it and will be in a heap of trouble! That happened to me in 1979 when I had a former employee sue me and I couldn’t find the information I thought I had. I’ve been afraid to throw anything away ever since then. Plus, I’m running out of room.”


Together we created a plan to tackle the boxes of old files. That was easy because there is a time limit on how long various files and documents need to be kept by law. Setting up a record retention strategy allowed him to quickly sort through what could be securely destroyed, what needed to be kept and for how much longer.

He took control by scheduling the destruction dates on his calendar. He also gained a lot of much needed new storage space by tackling all those old boxes. He reduced his fire hazard and he forced him to address the mouse and bug situation he had going on there. Yuck!


  1. Understand busy vs. productive.

    First and foremost, take a few minutes to think about the difference between being busy and being productive. The most productive people are not the ones who are running around like chickens with their heads cut off, doing several things at once, allowing interruptions every other minute, creating piles of paperwork to be processed, etc. We all are guilty of getting into the “busy” mode. However, we need to train our minds to go into “productive and focused” mode. Are you a maniac hoarder of multiple tasking? Do you run your day in productive mode or does your day run you? It all starts here with understanding this concept and your tendencies.

  2. Get organized.

    Start by examining the types of paperwork you need to generate and maintain for each part of the employment process. List everything out and identify when it’s created, how and where it needs to be kept, and when it can or should be destroyed. Develop a plan to make sure these documents are kept securely. Keep in mind, you must be able to easily access them when you need them. There’s no need to go scrounging through file drawers to find something when you need it quickly.

  3. Be self-disciplined.

    Do not get behind in processing your employment paperwork. Dedicate a few minutes every day or so to touching that paperwork only once. Process it right then and there. And processing might be as simple as putting it in the appropriate place to store, scanning it to store it electronically, or using it to do data entry for payroll. Whatever you need to do with each document, do it right away. Stop moving it from pile to pile on your desk. It takes up a lot of mental space in your brain and your psyche, whether you realize it or not. If it means that you have to schedule the time on your calendar and treat it like a meeting with yourself, DO IT.

Each of these 3 suggestions can also be applied to every other area of your business, so that whatever you’re hoarding doesn’t become overwhelming. There’s no time like the present! You just have to begin.

So are YOU a maniac hoarder? What is your Number 1 hoarding habit and what will you do to get control of it?

Consider using our HR Kits to help streamline your processes so your paperwork is kept to a minimum.  You can see all of them here and there’s no better time to start than NOW.

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