Julie Tucker
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Workplace organising: Prioritising by colour

We all look for different ways to stay organised at work, and perhaps at this time of year we are planning a clear out and refresh before the start of the new year, but have you ever considered prioritising with colour?

When you’re juggling multiple tasks, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and bogged down in detailed spreadsheets, reports and emails. Particularly where complex processes are involved, it’s common to get confused. However, by simply using a colour-based system, you can far more easily and intuitively get your tasks back on track – and enjoy doing so.

The power of colour

Colour is a powerful medium and it has a deep impact on our minds and hearts. Colour psychology is a specialist branch of study that links different colours with different thoughts, feelings and energy states. For example, red is associated with power, energy and danger, and it can work well in a high-octane sales environment. Blue is often associated with financial services as it conveys solidity, trust, professionalism and order. Pink is used commonly in caring professions and yellow is typically the colour of intellect and is popular in lively, bright and analytical or creative environments. You’ll often find carefully chosen colours in coworking spaces, for example, to maximise energy, focus and interaction. Commonly, shared spaces will focus on a neutral base with accent colours in positive green, energetic yellow and authentic, peaceful blue.

Applying colour to your personal work

In a similar way, colours can be used in our daily work to show different stages of a process or task. The well-known RAG system, for example, uses red to denote tasks or outcomes that are off-track; amber for factors that need to be kept under review; and green for measurables that are on track.

A simple and highly intuitive system that maps to traffic lights and allows users to instantly see where work is at, and where focus is needed, you can use other colours too according to any system of your own that you might want to implement.

– Green is often associated with success and positive thinking

– Blue can be associated with serenity, authenticity and integrity – perhaps explaining why it’s so prevalent in financial services, the law and insurance!

– Orange is joyous and enthusiastic, suggesting success and encouragement

– Purple is linked with wealth, extravagance and nobility; it’s the colour we think of when we think of royal families or Cadbury’s chocolate!

Introducing colour and strategy

It’s helpful to use colour to provide structure for your document organisation and to positively influence your mood. Here are some ideas:

1. Introduce systematic colour to document trays, email folders and storage boxes. By picking a certain colour for a category of contents, you benefit from rapid ‘optical bundling’ which allows you to quickly sort without thinking too much. This saves a lot of time and energy.

2. Pick colours that make you feel good. You might like the friendly energy of yellow, the hope and positivity of green (which is also automatically associated with a completed job), blue for balance and focus and red for caution – ‘things to watch’ and high-energy.

You could use colour pens or sticky notes with the appropriate colours and apply your choices to online organisation tools too. As a general rule of thumb, stick to no more than four colours or you could end up overwhelmed.

Be consistent with your choices for on and offline work and take a moment now and again to simply enjoy the visual pleasure that a well-chosen colour brings to your working environment and productivity!

In short, it’s time to ban boring black and white from the office and embrace the many positive benefits that your favourite colours can bring to your workspace.


© KPs Photography AND Film / Shutterstock.com

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