5 Tips to Color Code Your Way from Computer Chaos to Coherence

Excerpted from her new book, How to Do Space Age Work with a Stone Age Brain TM

Color is just like a Porsche--There Is No Substitute
In anatomical illustrations you see the brain's large visual system, where the optic nerve is actually 25 times faster than our audio nerves (hearing). No matter which processing style you depend on, 90 percent of the sensory perceptions received by your brain are visual. This is undoubtedly why color-coding works even for Auditory and Kinesthetic Learners.

Color-Coding Your Calendar
Custom color-coding each entry is one of the biggest improvements in Computer Calendars. When your appointment window pops up for the details; You'll find a drop-down field option to choose which color you want.

Color-coding will reduce mis-reads by as much as 90%, even if you don't change anything else about your calendar's display.

One executive client codes his calendar with black for onsite meetings, red for travel, green for offsite meetings and blue for personal/family time.

I know soccer moms who color code for school, church, medical appointments, and family time. Truth is, they have just as many appointments to track as most executives.

Color-Coding Your E-mail
You can color-code your messages in almost every current e-mail program. You can do this by "training" your filters (sometimes called rules or screens) to recognize your clients or customers and make all their incoming messages appear in red.

Usually you'll find this function under Tools, and Options. Just fill in which e-addresses you want in what colors. You only have to do this once and it will work for you from then on.

My e-mail is set up to show all incoming messages from people I know I want to hear from in blue. Many of my clients set it so that any e-mail from their boss appears in red. Make color work for you - use it a lot in your office and on your computer too!

Color-Coding Other Electronic Files
It's not as easy to color-code folders in Windows Explorer as it is to color-code calendar entries or e-mail messages, but it can be done, at least in Windows XP.

First you need to get or make folder icons in different colors. (Try doing a search on "icon libraries" in Google.) Once you have some icons to choose from, right-click on the folder you want to color-code and select "Properties" from the list that appears. You'll see a "Customize" tab across the top of Properties window. Using this, you can put different pictures on different types of file folders, or choose a new icon for the particular folder you are modifying.

The icons or pictures should match your overall color-coding system, the one you are already using for your paper files, e-mail, and calendar. In the list on the left, the folders are named and color-coded in the same way as in the File Kits described below. You can, of course, choose an even simpler system, or a more complex one, depending on how many different computer files you have and how you want to be able to distinguish them.

This procedure is time-consuming (especially if you don't start when you first set up your computer filing system), but it can be worth it to the Visual Learner for whom file names and subfolders aren't enough.

No need to reinvent the organizing wheel. There are many program features that can help you, but be sure how you'll use it and where you'll put it. Otherwise you're just going to end up with a bunch of brightly colored folders and messages that you've piled more chaos on.

Now you know the techniques and tools you'll need to succeed with your color-coding computer tune-up. Go Forth and Color Code!

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