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Action Zone for the Home Office

In my post, Ideas for Organizing Workflow in a Home Office, I promised I would go into more detail with each particular zone I have designated in my own home office. I will share my action zone {aka action center} and give all the nitty gritty details on how it works and why it works for us. Lights, camera, action zone! {I know that was cheesy, but I couldn't resist!}

What is an Action Zone/Action Center?

An action zone functions as the main hub of my home office. I think of it as the turnstile that brings paper in and out of our office and home. Mail comes in and gets sifted and placed in the action zone. Why do I let it sit there? Because I'm a mom and don't always get the opportunity to deal with the mail the moment I get in the house. I needed a way to "bookmark" my steps and having an action zone is the best way to do it.

What Houses an Action Zone?

An action zone can be housed in a variety of different vehicles, it just depends on your family's needs. Here's a look at some ideas to start your own action zone for your home office.

If you have little paperwork to manage and an even smaller budget, and expandable file may work for you.

If you already have a few extra stacking trays laying around, those work great too.

If you are an overachiever with an unlimited budget, here is my dream action center.

For my family, we have gone middle of the road and used a wall file. It is versatile, doesn't take up desk space, is prominent, and looks pretty {for the girl in me}.

What does an Action Zone Consist of?

Action Zones should consist mostly of verbs {action words}. Pretty obvious, right? Depending on your family's life stage, you may be able to go with just one for the whole house, or you may need several different action zones.

Let's take a closer look at my action zone to give you a better idea of how you can start your own. When I created an action center & drop zone in our previous house, I was using a small spot in our kitchen as an extension of the entryway. Now that we have a bit more room, I am able to dedicate an action zone in our home office loft {home tour coming soon!}.

My original actions created using 3 tab file folders are the most frequently used.
  • Act: Used for items that require a response from me. I place invitations I need to RSVP to, letters I need to respond to, and mailings that I want to opt out of {this is a big one if you want to reduce the junk mail you receive}.
  • File: Used for paper that needs to be filed away in my filing zone or archived in my previous year's record file. Filing is my least favorite thing to do, but it's important to keep up with. 
  • Pay: Used for bills that require payment via mail or online. When it's time to pay bills, I go to this folder to keep track of what needs to be paid. I also arrange the bills in order of due date which helps when membership renewal bills and car registration bills come sometimes months ahead of their due date.
My newest action categories.
  • Follow Up: This is an important one although not as frequently used. Often there are things that I put in the act file that may need to be put on hold. Say I need to return something or am waiting for a response from someone. Putting that correspondence in the Follow Up folder reminds me that it still requires my attention. Follow up can sometimes fall through the cracks so this is one great and simple way to keep it on the backburner.
  • Incoming mail: Remember those days where you run into the house with a bajillion things hanging on you? Groceries, mail, maybe some take out? Well on those crazy hectic days that you are unable to stop and check the mail {that happens a lot around here}, I put our mail in this folder so I can check and sort the mail when there is some down time.
  • Outgoing mail: Another less frequently used, but important folder to have so bills and other correspondences go out in a timely manner. Once you open that wedding invitation and fill out the RSVP card, stick it in the Outgoing Mail folder so the next time you leave the house to run errands, all your outgoing mail is together and ready to run with you.

Why does an Action Zone work?

An action zone is a great way to organize the workflow in your home office. It is the starting and the finishing point of paperwork that needs to make its way through the house. Sometimes I get to a point of downtime where I know there is something I need to be doing, but can't always remember where to begin. My action zone can tell me exactly what that is because there is always something in there.
I hope that his has given you some inspirational gifts you can use to organize your home office and make it work for you and your family. There is still more goodness to come, so get started on your action zone and be ready to take on the next zone as we continue our journey to living and being clutter free.

Do you have an action zone in your house? What does it consist of? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.
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