Color Coordinated Organizing

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Take if from this professional organizer – there are times when color coordinated organizing makes your system work much better and there are times when it just doesn’t make sense. These 11 tips about rainbow color organization will help you know when it will work for you.

White square shelving unit with books and binders organized by color with title text overlay reading 11 Tips for Color Coordinated Organizing

There are many reasons to organize by color:

  • Our brains often remember color as a main identifying feature of an item.
  • It provides visual calm by grouping different colors together rather than having them in a scattered chaotic pattern
  • Makes it easy to find a specifically colored item.
  • It provides visual cues for you that instinctively lead you to what you’re looking for.
  • It provides logical cues for you to find what you need,
  • Makes it easy to identify how many items of each color you have.

There are many popular professional organizers that promote rainbow color organizing.

  • It works well as an organizing system.
  • It creates a beautiful organized environment.

How is the Rainbow Organized in Order?

It makes sense to organize colors in the same order that the colors are organized in the rainbow. You know that the colors go well together and are actually beautiful in their rainbow order. You instinctively feel comfortable with the colors arranged in that order.

The colors of the rainbow are organized in ROY G. BIV order:

  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Indigo – a purplish blue color
  • Violet – purple

You can place white in front of red or behind violet. Brown, grey and black should be placed after violet.

Multi-colored items should be placed by the main color. Different people may see the main color of a pattern differently. Do what makes sense to you.

Metallics should be placed where they makes sense to you.

  • You could place gold after yellow.
  • You could place silver after grey.
  • You could place metallics after black, with each different metallic color together.

You don’t have to organize colors in rainbow order. Some people prefer to organize colors from light to dark. I’ve even worked with a client that wanted to organize colors in alphabetic order – blue, green, orange, purple, red and yellow.

Organizing by color can be accomplished any way that makes sense to you. The order of the colors is less important than taking advantage of the power of placing similar colored items together in an organizing system.

row of colored pencils

How do you organize clothes by color?

Choose the main color of the clothing items and then place all items of that color together in a drawer, in a closet or on a shelf.

Benefits of organizing clothes by color:

  • It saves you time in getting dressed.
    • If you want a black shirt, you know immediately where to find it.
  • If you need a shirt to coordinate with a plaid skirt, you can hold the skirt up to different color groups to see what will look best and then find the specific shirt you want within that one color group.
  • It saves time putting clothes away.
    • You immediately know exactly where each items belongs.
  • It saves you money by preventing overbuying since you can clearly see how many of each color of clothing item you have.
  • It saves panicked shopping trips because you are aware of colors of clothing items that you don’t have. This allows you to shop sales or create your clothing shopping list for each season.

Color Coordinating Clothes

Color coding works especially well with clothing items in a drawer. You simply fold your clothing and then put them in the drawer with colors grouped together.

I recommend that you first sort items by type and then color. For example. all long-sleeve t-shirts together in one drawer and all short-sleeve t-shirts in another drawer (or together in one drawer with long-sleeved on one side and short-sleeve on the other) and then organize the shirts by color.

Organizing by color makes putting clothes away and finding the one item you need in the morning a snap.

t-shirts neatly folded in drawer and organized by color

More information about organizing clothes drawers:

I share all my best clothes folding tips and options in my 37-page ebook, How to Fold Clothes. The book is complete with instructions, step-by-step images and more.

collage of pages of how to fold clothing

Color Coordinated Closet

Organizing your closet by color is similar to organizing your dresser drawers.

Start by sorting clothing by category. All pants together, all summer dresses together, all winter dresses together, all short-sleeve shirts together, and so on.

Next sort each category by color. You choose which order to place the colors, by rainbow color order or another method. What’s important is that each item of similar color is placed together and you use your chosen color order system for the colors of items in each category.

More information about organizing a closet:

Color Coordinated Organizing

books and binders organized by color on white shelves

Phone Organized by Color

There is a trend to organize mobile phone apps by color. People who advocate for this organizing method say that their phone screen is more calming than having a chaotic mix of colors. They also point out that our brains often remember color as the main identifying feature.

Some people create folders for each Roy G. Biv color and then place each app in a folder by color. I’ve also seen people line apps up on each screen by color rather than using folders.

You could try a mix of each. For example, organize your main apps on your home screen by color and place color-coded folders on your other screens.

Be aware that on some phones, the folder will only show one notification for each folder so you may miss notifications from other apps that don’t show.

Color Organizing Books

Many people like to organize books by color because it looks more pleasing on the bookshelves. This is a personal preference. If your books are more functional than decorative, organizing by color may not be the organizing system for you. Think about what works best for your purpose.

I do recommend organizing young children’s books by color so that they have visual clues to know where books belong when they clean up. It makes putting books away easy for children. It’s also a great way to teach color recognition and the names of colors.

Also, children are visual and will remember they want the yellow book with the monkey and know where to locate it by color better than finding the book if you organize by author or title.

colorful paper organized by color

Color Organized Files

Organizing document files by color works exceedingly well for most people. Because we are used to looking for visual cues, it is helpful to to identify categories of files by color. It makes it quicker for you to find the category you are looking for.

Use colors that make sense to you. For example,

  • Use green for financial files.
  • Use red for bills that need to be paid or important documents.
  • Use a folder the color of your car for automobile documents.
  • Use a folder the color your house or front door for your home-related documents.

You can set up your own system or purchase color coded filing systems that are specifically designed as an entire filing system. The Freedom Filer system is a popular option that has packages for every filing need:

You can use these same color coding principles for computer file folders.

Calendar Organized by Color

Using different colors on your calendar allows you to immediately grasp your responsibilities at a glance.

Many people color code their calendar commitments with a different color for different:

  • Family members
  • Aspects of your life
    • Family, work and volunteer
    • Personal, work and exercise
    • Faith, health and appointments
  • Tasks
    • Appointments
    • Errands
    • Chores
    • Classes
    • Hobbies
  • Locations
    • If you travel frequently
    • If you work in different locations
    • If you own multiple homes
  • Clients or Vendors

Toys Organized by Color

Organizing toys by color should be for the purpose of making it easier for children to put toys away. Don’t make your life more complicated by setting up a complicated and unnecessary color-coded system for toys.

Color coding toys works well for:

  • Games
  • Art Supplies
  • Books
  • Large toy items
    • Don’t drive yourself crazy color organizing many small toys. Life is too busy for that added burden.
  • LEGOs
    • This works great for some families and only becomes a headache for others. Consider what will work best for your entire family and your children’s personalities. You are living in a home, not in a color-coded magazine page.
stacks of yarn skeins organized by color

Color Organized Crafts

Any crafter will tell you that craft supplies are much easier to use when they are organized by color.

Some people first organize by category and then color. Other people organize all craft items by color.

Consider carefully what will work best for you and how you think of your craft supplies. Do you first think, “I need a piece of decorative paper that is blue” or “I need something blue for this project, let me see what I have.” Understanding how your creative process works will clearly point you to which way to organize your supplies.

hand touching file folders organized by color with title text reading Color Coordinated Organizing Tips

When It Doesn’t Make Sense to Organize by Color

The most important thing to remember is that organizing by color should make your life easier, not harder. If an organizing system set up by color is more difficult for you, then you should use a different system.

Some areas where organization by color doesn’t make sense:

  • Books if you need to reference them by author, title, or subject.
  • Most kitchen items – Kitchen items should usually be organized by function.
  • The refrigerator and freezer – while the photos of color organized refrigerators are lovely, it makes more sense to organize your fridge by zones based on:
    • Temperature – place items that need to maintain a steady temperature, like milk and dairy, on shelves and not in the door.
    • The design of the fridge – the fruit, vegetable and meat drawers are designed to meet the unique needs of those items.
    • By categories
      • Left-overs together
      • Snack items together
      • Breakfast items together
      • Lunch items together
skeins of yarn organized in rows by color
  • Tools – Tools should be organized by function.
  • Small office supplies – while sorting paperclips by color is lovely in a magazine, your time can be better used working. Your pens, highlighters, etc. don’t need to be organized by color unless it helps you work more efficiently that way.
  • Toys that don’t need to be organized by color – stuffed animals, balls, small figurines, small cars, etc.
  • Blocks and LEGOs if that’s not how your children use the blocks or if it’s too much work to keep them separated by color.

When creating color-coded organizing systems always remember that your primary goal is to make your life more efficient and easier for you to use.

Be sure to pin so that you can also find this comprehensive resource to make color coordinated organizing work for you and your home.

Find all my best organizing tips, hacks, printables and favorite products in the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.

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