Magazine

Are You an Office Hoarder?


So you like collecting staple removers? This nonclinical quiz will determine whether you need an intervention

01. If a colleague swings by your desk for an unexpected visit, he or she might think:

A) So that's where all the Post-it notes from the supply closet went!

B) Those towers of paper can't possibly be structurally sound.

C) Why is my Lean Cuisine rigatoni stuffed behind the computer monitor when I left it in the break-room fridge?

02. The thing you're most likely to take home from the office is:

A) Twelve linear feet of empty binders, none of which you've ever used.

B) Day-old newspapers, Staples catalogs, lots of plastic lids.

C) Whatever supplies you need. After all, paper-pushers shouldn't have to pay for the paper.

03. If someone were to excavate your work bag, what would they dig up?

A) Filofax fillers dating to 1988—and some weird faded photos of Scott Baio.

B) Crumpled receipts, topless ChapStick, dog-eared copy of Eat, Pray, Love.

C) Splenda packets from the office pantry. You shouldn't be penalized for that cup of coffee on your commute.

04. How do you feel about the shared office refrigerator?

A) It's where you keep leftovers from meetings. That tuna wrap might still taste good tomorrow!

B) People really get too worked up about keeping it organized.

C) You'll replace whatever you take. When you have a chance. Maybe.

05. Desk filing cabinets should be used for:

A) Storing all the supplies you might use—you never know when they'll come in handy.

B) Holding an extra sweater. And comfortable shoes. Maybe a blanket. And a Shake Weight.

C) Filing. In fact, you also have a filing cabinet at home, which you've outfitted with folders taken from the supply closet.

06. If an organizational expert tried to streamline your desk, you would feel:

A) Certain they wouldn't understand why you need to keep all those extra rolls of tape.

B) Relieved. If they want to face off against a paper tornado, more power to them.

C) Excited. As long as you put that stapler into your purse right now. You're going to need it, and you don't want to pay.

If you answered mostly A's...

You're a stockpiler. Does the idea of unloading all those Post-its bring on fear? Dr. David Evans, psychology professor at Bucknell University, says hoarders feel "tremendous anxiety" at the prospect of purging. If this sounds like you, consider talking to an expert—and we don't mean the supply-closet monitor.

If you answered mostly B's...

You're a clutterer. Paper piles are O.K., says Evans, noting that some people have "a system out of this seeming chaos." The issue is when a clutterer is distressed by the thought of tossing things out. A rule of thumb: "If the clutter is getting in the way of job effectiveness, then it is a problem."

If you answered mostly C's...

You're a petty pilferer. Pocketing the occasional office supply is an ethical issue that should be addressed. Lunch stealers, however, raise bigger red flags. "It is generally more of a compulsion," says Evans, "and there may even be some small mixture of anxiety and thrill associated with it." Seek help, pronto.


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