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7 Ways Color-Coding Can Organize Your Life


They’re the two little words that can divide crowds: color coded. But whether you swear by the organizational powers a few hues can bestow, or shudder at its mere mention, there’s no denying that color is ingrained into our everyday lives.

“Color is a powerful tool and a key element of design. It captures our attention, reflects our emotions, is used by big-name brands to create identity, and can even help us organize our thoughts and remember information more easily,” says Shane O’Brien, creative director and founder of ArtCircus, a collective of Australian artists and designers who create limited-edition stationery. It’s not just about rainbow bookcases and shoe closets, though; color-coding can also bring about numerous and somewhat surprising benefits.

Many chefs around the world use different colored chopping boards for the safe preparation of food. Many in the legal profession implement color-coding when going through case notes, helping them differentiate and recall statements of significance, material facts, legal reasoning, and more. Implementing handy color-coding systems can also help you organize your home. Here are seven of our favorite ideas.


(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

1. Moving to another house?

Minimize mayhem on moving day by color-coding your boxes. Give each area of your home a hue and then seal your boxes with corresponding colored tape (available from good stationery stores). You or your professional movers can then easily identify what goes where, making the move as efficient as possible — plus, it saves you from writing on every box. Just be sure to make a note of the contents so you can find the all-important coffee maker among the mass of boxes for that mid-unpack cup of joe.

2. Sort your kitchen.

  • Chopping boards: Keep different colored chopping boards for different food groups — such as raw meat, cooked meat, and fruit and veggies — to help reduce the risk of food poisoning. Try painting the edges or the handle of your boards with non-toxic craft paint so you can identify which is which.
  • Glasses: Who hasn’t accidentally slurped out of someone else’s sauvignon blanc at a party? Prevent any martini mix-ups at your next gathering by buying colored glass markers.
  • Recipe cards: If you’ve got a box bursting with recipes but the thought of rifling through it fills you with dread, color-coding may be the answer. Pick a color to represent a type of dish or course — such as blue for seafood, green for vegetable sides, and so on — and add stickers or use felt-tip pens to apply a dot to the corner of the cards.


(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

3. Organize your bathroom.

  • Cleaning products: Consider using color-coded materials so you always know which product belongs to which room in the house.
  • Towels and toothbrushes: Large household? Colors to the rescue! Give each family member a hue, then sew a small tab, piece of ribbon, or knot of thread onto items for easy identification.

4. Tidy up that garage.

5. Liven up your living area.

  • Bookshelves: Arranging your bestsellers by color might be a no-no for people who prefer an anywhere-it-fits route, but it does make shelves look less cluttered and creates a focal point. “A color-coded bookshelf can add a gentle touch of fun,” says Richard Misso, creative director of interior design agency The Stylesmiths. “It’s a good idea to pile up books before loading them on the shelves so you can see how many you have for each color, and what colors work best next to each other.”
  • Planner/calendar: Assigning each facet of your life — work, social, family — a color in your planner can help you keep better track of your obligations. For wall calendars, larger families might want to consider giving each family member a different shade.


(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

6. Brighten up your bedroom.

  • Wardrobe: Make your wardrobe as pretty and inviting as the rest of your home by arranging your threads by color. This will also make that hard-to-find blouse easier to spot in the morning before work. “Color-coding your wardrobe creates a manageable filing system,” Misso says.

7. Be productive in your home office.

  • Files: Separating important paperwork into color-coded folders can help you find things easily (blue for medical, green for finances, and more). You could also try a traffic-light system for bills (red for “requires action,” yellow for “needs shredding,” and green for “paid/needs filing”).
  • Email: Many email providers, such as Gmail and Outlook, let you apply a color to a specific sender or topic, or symbols to flag emails by category as you see fit.

This post was written by Amy Tomkys. For more, check out our sister site, Homes to Love.

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