I’m a big fan of color coding in an office, but it can be easily used to organize the home as well. I found that if everyone knows the system (or their assigned colors), they will be able to find what they are looking for quickly and easily. And, they do not have to ask anyone for assistance finding their stuff. Saving every one undue stress and frustration.
Over the years, I worked with many clients that preferred to use a color-coding system to remind them and the people who live or work with them where to find a particular item. I found that the people who like this system the most are the ones who are pretty comfortable with color in the home and office. Now, you don’t need to be a color lover to use this system, however. You just need to create a simple system to make it easy to remember. Let’s help you use color coding in your home or office.
Where should you use the color coding method?
First, determine the area that you want to use the color code method in your home or office. Here are some examples of areas that you may want to improve with color coding.
Filing cabinet systems
Clothing and shoes in closets
Calendars of activities
Hopefully, this gives you ideas on how to improve your organization. So, to help you, I am breaking down these sections below to give you even more in depth tips and tricks. We are going to start with the dreaded filing cabinet systems.
How do you establish a color coding organizing system?
After you decide on what area you want to improve in your home or office, determine what color pertains to what person, object, task, or purpose. Each color should be unique from the other colors and should be used for one purpose. You can, however, use the same color for a different area or project. I find that it helps to have separate sets of color coding supplies for the different areas that you color code. For example, I have a different set of colored highlighters in my office for my weekly calendar. And, in the kitchen, I use a separate set of highlighters (mind you, they are the same colors) stored in my junk drawer. A little planning will help you get your organizing system installed correctly.
To help you organize your space with color, below, I am sharing examples of how you can organize the different areas of your home and office with color. Let’s begin. Feel free to visit the other experts’ that added their tips to this post.
5 Areas to Use Color Coding in your Home and Office
How to color code a filing cabinet?
First, let’s start with the easy one, the filing cabinet. Use the color green to represent money. Anything money related, use the color green hanging or manilla folder. I wrote a blog post about how to help you organize your billing station, feel free to visit the post here: WHAT TO KEEP IN YOUR BILL PAYING STATION
Each folder will hold papers that are alike. Remember: be more general in your similar groups, but not too specific.
And for “bills to pay,” I like to use the color red for the “red hot” items that need to be taking care of first in the files. While you may think of red as a “stop” color, remember that it is alerting you to what is important since we tend to see this color first in the entire color spectrum.
How to color code those highly sensitive documents?
And, don’t forget the important documents, I recommend removing them altogether from your general filing cabinet and adding them to a fireproof filing safe. You can use the color orange or yellow for these files making sure to label them with specific like topics. Here are some examples.
Current deeds and mortgage,
Current insurance policies (life, home, renter, auto, etc…),
Relevant medical paperwork,
Old Drivers License,
Passports (old and new),
Patents and copyrights,
Social Security cards,
Social Security Statements for retirement,
Stocks and bond certificates,
Wills (living will, power of attorney, etc.)
This list is from another blog post I wrote. Feel free to visit the PERSONAL IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS TO KEEP post that talks about these important documents and how to keep them safe.
How to organize the medical bills with this color coding organizing system?
This area is crucial if you have many bills to keep track of after a major surgery. Using the color blue or another unique color works nicely for these files to stand out in the filing cabinet. If you have different insurance plans, make sure each plan has its accordion folder. Then divide each tab into the various surgeries that happened from the different doctors. Tags that come with accordion folders like these below from Amazon (aff.) will help you separate out the paid bills and which doctor got paid. I hope you never have to deal with this many bills; this system will help you keep it square in your mind what each doctor is owed and the associated procedure.
What color code should I use in an office or home?
Have you ever looked at your computer and your desk (or in your file cabinets) and thought, “I have to figure out a way to organize my work life?”
It happens: It’s hard to stay on top of everything you have to work on and know, much less keep your desk in spit-spot shape. One way to go about that is to use color to convey certain topics or feelings, and let those hues guide you in office organization.
For example, think about yellow: We associate it with feelings of real cheery and happy. So it’s logical, then, to use yellow folders, tabs, or other color-cued items to storage or share ideas related to new things. Green, on the other hand, is often thought of as conveying stability and resourcefulness, which makes it the perfect color code for items related to either finances or environmental issues.
How else can you use color? This graphic can help.
Wow, that is a great infographic to use at work, right? Now that we have tackled the complex filing cabinet systems and explained what colors represent now, let’s deal with the closet of clothes. I promise this will be a lot shorter and easier to set up.
Here are additional tips from other organizing experts.
“Go with just one color to stand out when you color code your email. In Outlook, create a flag for the most important email to stand out.” ~ Ellen Rubin Delap
“In your ‘command centre’ give each child a coloured folder to put school or activity correspondence: field trip permission slips, fundraising info, assignments info, calendars, newsletters from clubs, etc. They drop stuff in, and they also check back for the ‘signed’ permission slip. So they learn to check it on a regular basis… and don’t say “but you didn’t give me the permission slip back.” ~ Margarita Ibbott
“Depending on the nature of your business, you may have five categories: customers, suppliers, finances, forms, and information. Your finance category might include green folders of individual income and expenses. Your customer category can include red folders of individual persons. Within each category, label folders and file alphabetically.” ~ Janet Barclay – Quote from OfficePro 2004 article
How to organize your clothes by color?
Your closet of clothes will be less complicating than the filing cabinet, I’m sure. Start by pulling out all the items from each section of your closet. First, sort by type of item or usage. Then, go through each item and organize them by color from brightest to darkest. You can use the rainbow colors if you wish: (ROYGBIV) – Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. Then, place the items back into the closet. I prefer to use this system to reduce how long it takes me to set up outfits in the morning. It also helps me realize what colors I am missing. Here are some posts I wrote previously on the topic of closet organization.
Here is an additional tip from another Professional Organizing Expert.
“Color coding can be great if you have multiple children. Let each pick a “theme” color, and then use it for things like toothbrushes, bathroom towels, cups, backpacks, helmets, mittens, sneakers and more!” ~ Seana Turner
How to color code and organize Craft areas?
Since there are plenty of colors in the craft area, try organizing them by the color and also by type. For example, if you have a scrapbook craft area, arrange your 12 x 12 pieces of papers by color. Laying the papers down helps you keep them from getting bent in the corners. Here are some craft room organization to help. I love to organize my scrapbook area. Here’s a post I wrote about my craft area.
How to color code and organize an activity calendar for your entire family?
This one is pretty easy, but you would be surprised at how many moms and dads don’t use it. It does help the kids manage their schedule better. Pick a color for each of your children. Don’t forget you and your spouse. As I mentioned above, I like to get several sets of the different highlighters. Keeping a set of highlighters in the kitchen where the primary calendar works great because the children can also write down their events and use their color. I also have another set in my home office where I print out the calendar each week for the kitchen. Doing it this way allows me to highlight the different activities and then bring it upstairs and post it on the wall. Easy, right? It works well. The best color I found that works on calendars are Blue, Green, Orange, and Pink. Yellow on a yellow calendar just doesn’t stand out enough. Keeping these highlighters near by and using them often keeps me on schedule with all the crazy activities everyone is doing these days.
Please note these are affiliate links through Amazon and Order out of Chaos and at no additional cost to you, I will earn affiliate fees if you decide to make a purchase.
Looking for even more tips on color coding your system? Check out this tip from another Professional Organizing expert.
“Assign different color pens or markers to each family member. This makes it easy to see who’s responsible for items written on a calendar, chore chart or to-do list.” ~ Nancy Haworth
I hope this helps you look at your different systems and get them even more organized using color coding. Let’s continue the conversation; please leave a comment below on how you use color coding in your home or office. I would love to hear from you.