Recently I worked with a client who was feeling lost amidst her office. A few years back, a professional organizer had created a system for this space. But the system didn't make sense to her. It wasn't natural to how she thought and did her business. She often ended up not finding what she needed. Plus papers started pilling up on her desk, or anywhere she could find space. She didn't want to try and change the new setup because she had spent a lot of money on it, and she felt the organizer knew best. So she ended up feeling frustrated, and that she was at fault.
I said that I'm not a professional organizer. I've always sensed that the clutter was the problem. You can't organize while the clutter is still there. Clutter by its nature is chaotic. Its presence makes it hard to think clearly. It has an unsettled quality. It's turbulent. You can't organize chaos. You can put these items in nice marked containers, but then it's still chaos.
The definition of organize is, "to cause to develop an organic structure." Organic is defined as, "having systematic coordination of parts." Coordination is the key word. This means things working together. There is a healthy flow. There's no presence of disruption. There's no clutter.
I told my client that it was my experience that things start flowing as the clutter begins to leave a person's living space. A natural order kicks in as the clutter goes. It makes sense because the discord is gone. The disrupters are no longer jamming your home and mind.
We worked together to clutter bust the office space. It turned out a great amount of paper was unnecessary and went into either recycling or got shredded. We redid her filing system using words that she could relate to. We also tossed out a lot of unnecessary file folders. We also took down a monolith cubby-hole organizing structure that she called, "My clutter condo."
In the end she created an office that supported her. She adapted it to her needs. She did this by removing the clutter first.