Color-Coded Organization

After much back and forth on organization of my to-do list and how to convince myself to keep on top of email, I’ve come to color-coding. I have about two months of success with it behind me so it looks like it’s here to stay.


First of all I created a set of colored tags for email. I can’t show you my email because right now my Inbox is down to zero. That’s how well it works.

Color-Coded Email

As mail comes in, I tag it. Unless it’s something I need to look at immediately, it’s corraled by category for later in the week.

I can seriously focus on a few emails in one day rather than being overwhelmed by 50 and giving up. As it used to go, 50 would become 100 in the time it took me to blink.


I use Thunderbird email which has a calendar plugin called Lightning. For the calendar I use the same color-coding.

Lightning Calendar

I’ve taken out Music, Pictures and Video as they’re not important here and what’s left is a 7-day perpetual calendar. At the end of today, Sunday, I drag *ANCESTORS down to next week and son on as I work through each week.

This gives me a focal point for each day. It doesn’t mean I can’t do other things but it tells me what I should take care of if I don’t want to fall behind.

Behind each category, in the notes section, is a short list of recurring maintenance items. I can change those as I go along, if needed.

Lightning Calendar Notes

To-Do List

Meanwhile, back at my to-do list in ActionOutline, I still use a category system, as talked about many times before, but I only keep reference items under each one.

Under another tab called ‘to do’ I use the same color-coded system to mark my list of things to do.

Quick Styles, ActionOutline

It’s simply a right-click to choose the right category and the item is marked.

Color-Coded To Do List

Each day I’m only looking at the items in today’s category which my eyes can focus on easily by color. The rest is for some other day unless it’s critical in which case it’s also on my calendar.

Obviously, these basic concepts may be applicable to your own choice of software and categorizing needs.

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