How to Color Code Your Calendar

Jen Lawrence
Jen Lawrence

Operational Efficiency Expert. Creating ease through systems.

Color coding your calendar is one of those organizational tricks that most people shrug off. Either they think it takes too much time or they won’t implement it or it is just plain frivolous.

I’m here to tell you – if you aren’t color-coding your calendar, you’re missing out.

Color coding your calendar allows you to see how your time will be used at a glance. Colors can be used to distinguish between projects, clients, meeting types, and activity types. You name it. You will know in a matter of seconds how your time is allocated just by looking at colors.

The system will take you a mere few moments to set up and I guarantee you’ll see the benefits immediately.

How to color code?

Most email clients will allow you to assign colors and categories to your calendar simply by selecting from a dropdown. However, if you’re an iCal user, you’ll need to create a calendar for every category you want to color code.

What categories should be included while color-coding a calendar?

Every person’s needs are different. However, these categories will get your wheels turning.

  • Meetings – In-Person
  • Meetings – Virtual (phone/video)
  • Conferences/Expos/Company-Wide Meetings
  • Travel
  • Urgent/Reminders
  • Holidays/Special Events
  • Personal
  • Financial
  • To-Dos (remember to schedule your to-dos!)
  • Project/Client
  • Training/Development
  • Meeting with Manager
  • 1:1 Meeting
  • Volunteer Work

Remember the goal is to stay organized – not make your calendar look like a unicorn threw up all over it. Try to keep your categories list simplified and high-level.

What colors should you use?

Really, it’s up to you! But if you need some inspiration, here is how I typically use my colors.

  • Red: urgent, reminders
  • Orange: projects
  • Yellow: tasks
  • Green: finances
  • Blue: meetings
  • Purple: training, development
  • Pink: holidays, special events
  • Grey: Travel
  • Teal: Personal

Using different shades is an excellent way to differentiate between similar categorical events or tasks. For instance, I use a royal blue for in-person meetings, a lighter shade for virtual meetings, and navy blue for large meetings such as conferences.

I encourage you to start today! It will take you 30 minutes to create your personal code and implement it on your calendar. Just don’t forget to label your categories or keep your color key handy.

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