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Ideas for Organizing Workflow in a Home Office so You Can Get On With Life

Before I became a full time mom, my desk at the office was my pride and joy. Why? Because it was soooo organized!!! I had systems in place and a fluid workflow that allowed me to get my job done and still have time to help others in the office. Now that I am home full time, I get to create a workflow in our home office and develop it into a full blown mom-cave. The mere thought of it gets me giddy! If the thought of your home office makes you cringe, I will share with you some ideas on how to organize a workflow in a home office that will get you feeling productive and ready to take on the business of being CMO {Chief Mom Officer}, I just made that up, but you get the idea.

The Ultimate Home Office

What does the ultimate home office look like? What does it feel like? For me, the ultimate home office is a place where I can be creative and productive. I can project, blog, and conduct all the major business of running our household {paying bills, planning meals, etc.}, then when called upon, chase the "bad guys" and rescue the "orphans".

I believe that organizing from the inside out is the only way organizing can be most effective, so if your home office is in need of a redo {no matter the size}, think about your ultimate home office and envision it first. Use my Room Organization Planner to help you through the process. Once your vision has been set, you are ready to zone off your home office.


Workflow Zones in the Home Office

The importance of having a good workflow in your home office is the key to enjoying being there. Your home filing system must be easy to understand and easy to access, paper should move in and out of the home office fluidly, and everything must have its proper place. The best way to create an organized workflow in the home office is by creating zones.

Action Zone
The action zone is the main entry and exit point of everything coming through the office. Much like grand central station, the action zone is the turnstile that sends everything to its destination. The action zone in my house is made up of a wall file with two sets of file folders labeled with different actions. Some of the actions I have included are Act {for RSVP's and other correspondences that require a response from me}, File {for filing later}, and Pay {for bills coming up that need paying}.
{Read about my Action Zone}
Project Zone
The home is chalk full of a variety of projects happening all at once with little space to work on them, typically just the surface of a desktop. Since there can be so many projects happening and only a limited amount of time and space to complete them, there needs to be a space set aside for projects that are awaiting completion. A project zone may consist of stacked file trays for scrapbooking, a nook of planning binders, or any combination of the two. {Read about my Project Zone}
Reference Zone
A reference zone is used for all things you use to get inspired and fill your brain. This is where magazine files come in handy to hold all the different magazines and catalogs that get your wheels turning.
Filing Zone
This is where those important pieces of mail and receipts go. They come in the form of a desktop file box, filing cabinet or sometimes a binder. This is my least favorite zone, but one of the most needed zones in any home office. Filing and I don't get along, maybe because she is a close relative of cleaning {who I also dislike}. Although filing is not my favorite task, if my filing box is nice to look at, it helps.
Storage & Supply Zone
For obvious reasons, a storage and supply zone makes it easy to get to the things needed in a home office. This where those fun and fancy organizing bins, pencil holders, and drawers come into play. {Read about my supply zone}

Why Zones are Important to Workflow

Zones are the ingredients to a successful workflow in a home office. Each zone is completely different and performs an important function when getting things done.

Here's a look at the zones at work:

  • Mail comes in and sits in the action zone while dinner is cooking.
  • After bedtime, I sit down to open, sort and file mail in the filing zone.
  • I pull out my household binder from the project zone to plan meals for the upcoming week.
  • As I plan, I go to my reference zone for ideas on what to make for dinner.
  • Once the meal plan is done, I go back to my action zone to find the bills that need paying and either pay them online or get stamps from the supply zone to mail my bills.
See how easy? Taking the time to organize workflow zones can help get things done in a snap! If something needs to be put on hold, into the project zone it goes until next time! 

But wait, there's more...

Because I want your home office to really work for you, I'm going to go into more detail on each of the workflow zones, so keep it close because I'll have some simple and effective tips on how to make each zone work for you so you can be there for your family, not stuck in the office looking for that thing, again.

Do you have other zones in your home office that I haven't mentioned? Tell me about them in the comments!
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