How to organize information and find it faster with the help of color coding
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I’ve recently connected with Kristina Ivanova of Folder Marker, a software program designed to keep computer folders organized by priority, status and more. She has kindly written this article to show you how to use this tool to efficiently organize your workflow and project files.
For productive work, everything must be in its place. In real life, we put documents in colored file folders, because people are visual and color helps us navigate a huge pile of information. So why not use this approach in working with a computer?
Why do you need to use color coding? Science gives the answer:
“Color improves time performance… and it is a very effective performance factor”
We ourselves understand this intuitively: remember how you used colored markers to emphasize important thoughts in books? This helps you visually separate and recall distinct themes of the stuff you’re dealing with.
Let’s look at this in more detail with an example for professional organizers’ workflow.
How to keep information on the professional organizer’s computer more structured
Professional organizers often deal with multiple client projects. To quickly find information, you can develop a structure of the project folder. Save all the materials there IMMEDIATELY as soon as they appear. For example, a project folder might have the following structure:
- consultation stage – discussions, invoices, needs assessment, organizing challenges, organizing package
- organizing process – make an appointment, on-site visit and hourly work to restore the order, set up the new systems, tips for future organization, issuing homework, provide recommendations for materials to best contain and organize belongings, a story from organizing techniques (process, system), and everything in between.
- maintenance – regular “checkup” calls or visits in order to keep your home at its well-organized peak
- financial part – control of prepayment-payment by the customer
- before/after – the project itself then we need to present to future clients, the part of your portfolio
- marketing – social media posts of projects, blog articles & art, etc.
So, we get this folder structure inside our MyProjects folder:
When there aren’t many projects, this is enough. Problems appear when the number of projects exceeds a dozen:
Without the structure, it’s like trying to find a polar bear in a snowstorm! We need to designate folders that are in different stages in the process. Let’s simplify everything with the help of color coding: we will tag completed projects in green, in process in orange, not started in blue, and urgent in red. It provides quick recognition when viewing the monitor, marks certain folders for easy/fast access, and organizes information.
Let’s find out how this can be achieved.
Instruction: How to organize project folders with the help of color coding
- We need a way to color-code folders fast. I use Folder Marker, the color coding software.
- Go to the foldermarker.com website and click on the Download button. Wait a minute and set up the software. Now see what you can do:
How to tag a folder with color
- We need good color contrast to make our folders stand out. Let’s organize our projects with color-coding:
- completed projects – in green
- in process – in orange
- not started – in blue
- urgent – in red
- When you have a new order or project, create a new sub-folder in the “MyProjects” folder. Right-click it, and you will see the popup menu with the Mark Folder entry. Select Mark Folder, and then the color you want to apply to show the progress of the documents inside the folder (ready, in process, urgent, or not started). Let’s apply blue, because it is an order from a new client, not started. The color is applied to the selected folder. Over time, the color of the folder can be changed, since we will start work (orange), then finish the order (green), or we will change the terms and will need to be done as quickly as possible (red).
Select the color you want to apply to show project stage (blue = not started)
- Name folders as you want, but it needs to be understandable. It can be the date of the deadline, the name of the client, or some specific organization details.
What have we got at this stage? We can still see project folders, deadlines, and client names, but thanks to the colors we have added another visual layer for understanding: one glance is enough to understand which projects are “on fire” and which have not even started.
This technique can be used both for yourself and for clients’ projects because everyone needs the order on a PC. Maybe putting things in order on the client’s PC can even be included in the list of services that you provide?
How to find folders even faster
After you’ve applied the color coding with Folder Marker, you can sort and filter colored folders by color. This is a unique feature I didn’t find in other similar software. It helps to find needed colored folders in seconds. But it is not so obvious how to use it, so let me show it step-by-step.
We color-coded every folder indicating the progress. What to do next?
- Just open the “MyProjects” folder and switch to Table view (View tab -> Table view).
- Right-click the header of the table (the area where you see Name, Type, Size, etc.) and tick Tags. Now you will see a new column – “Tags”.
- Click on a “Tags” column and see that folders are sorting by color.
- We also can filter folder content to show only specific color(s). For example, if you need to see urgent (=red) projects, click on the arrow near Tags and tick “Red”. You found it. That’s how it works 🙂
How to find the exact color folder with filtering
Learn more about Color Coding
Showing the stage of the project is just one possibility. You can create your own structure by priority, by theme, by importance, by splitting your electronic desktop into blocks, etc.
These articles that give you additional ideas for developing your own labeling structure:
Color-coding improves your performance. It adds an additional visual layer to present the information on a computer in a more structured way and speed-ups document management. Color filtering/sorting can be an addition to your organized process!