How to Color Code Your Files

Do you remember when the Wizard of Oz switched from black and white to a magnificent display of color? Manila folders are the “black and white” of filing. You can welcome your files into the modern age with color. A rainbow of color in the file drawer allows us to quickly make visual associations with our files. My own “Travel” file will forever be yellow. To take it a step further, it helps if it’s done with even more rhyme and reason. A great way to draw lines between categories is with color. Our brains thank us when we look into a file drawer and see chunks of color. These file chunks can be anywhere from two neighboring folders to a few dozen.

For example, a client of mine who is founder of a small company keeps all personal files at work. These are always cohabitating on his desk. Instead of segregating them spatially in separate stations, we assigned one folder color to personal and one to professional. Sales are a large part of his business, so we created a third color just for “Sales” files. Now he can spatially group files by action, while still recognizing their type at quick glance.

Another client is an attorney. In her office we simply made a list of everything that piles on her desk. In doing this we could see that she had five basic categories work. We assigned a color to each category. She can now just glance across her desk to grab folders for the project she is working on at the moment.

Here are a few more examples:

- My own paid utilities are all in lime green folders and inspirational folders are blue - For someone who is in international work, each region or country can have one color - All files pertaining to your children (doctors, school, etc.) should be one color, or one color per child. - A Mary Kay Director client assigned colors to promotional materials, seasonal, consultants, conferences, and so much more. - Bank statements, house files, investment folders are also nice to chunk by color

7 Day Office Challenge Which categories of yours would be more likely to stick together if they were grouped by color? If you’re feeling ambitious, buy a box of 100 colored files and makeover your entire file cabinet.