Expert Tips for Color-Coding Your Planner

How to color-code your planner to work for you

Whether you’re a novice planner user or a planner aficionado, you know how useful a planner can be. You can use it to stay on top of upcoming events, schedule out your day, log personal achievements, track daily habits, and so much more. But did you know there’s a way you can use your planner more effectively?

If you want to expand on these planner benefits, take your basic planner to the next level with a beautiful and exciting use of color. Color-coding your planner can not only increase your productivity, but also keep you motivated and inspired.

We’ll share some of our best planner ideas to help you incorporate color-coding to improve the usefulness and efficiency of your planner.

You might also like these other resources on planner organization:

Understand what you want to achieve with your planner

The first step to using color effectively in your planner is deciding what you want to accomplish with it. What you want from your planner will ultimately determine what you put in it. Will you use it strictly for managing daily tasks and appointments? Or perhaps you’d like keep to track of your weight loss progress or other important achievements?

Here are some common planner goals you can choose from to give you a better idea of what you might want to get out of your planner:

Knowing what you want to accomplish with your planner will help guide many of the decisions you make when first setting it up. Once you know what you want to achieve, you’ll be better informed when deciding things like the type of planner you should use, how often you should use your planner, and when it comes to color-coding, what planner accessories and tools will work best for you.

Organize your planner efficiently

Now that you know what you want to achieve, it’s time to get organized. But how do you organize your planner effectively? Well, the first thing you need to do is establish a good foundation. After that you can start adding elements, like color-coding, based on your personal needs.

No matter what type of planner you use, daily planner, bullet journal, habit tracker, finance planner, food journal, or something else, start off strong by including some basic planner elements like the ones below:

  • Schedule: Whether you plan to use your planner on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, make sure you include some kind of scheduling system.
  • Appointments: Keeping track of important appointments and activities is one of the most common reasons for keeping a planner. Seeing what events are coming up will help you better manage your time, so you can schedule your tasks more efficiently.
  • Task List: Seeing a list of what you need to do can help you prioritize your tasks more effectively. Also, crossing out tasks that you’ve already finished can help motivate you to cross out more. After all, it’s pretty satisfying seeing a list with everything crossed out.
  • Goals: Like tasks, seeing your goals laid out in front of you can help with prioritizing and motivation. With a visual of your progress, you can better determine the steps you need to succeed and where you should devote your focus.
  • Budgeting Notes: Budgeting can include finances, time, or even food if you’re using your planner for meal prepping or dieting. Whatever you need to budget, make sure you keep efficient notes where you can reference them easily.

Once the basics are taken care of you can finally add some color. Color-coding or decorating your planner with pops of color will help you organize and tailor it to suit your specific needs and hopefully motivate you to tackle your goals. After all, if you enjoy looking at your planner, you’re more likely to use it often.

Add color-coding in fun ways

Color-coding is a great visual tool to help you assess information in your planner at a glance. And the great thing is, there’s no right or wrong way to add color to your planner. Don’t be afraid to explore different tools that work for you.

Luckily, Avery has a wide variety of planner accessories and supplies to personalize and organize your planner. To help give you some ideas, here are some products you can use to start adding color to your planner:

Again, there’s no one way to bring color to your planner, so have fun with it. Showcase who you are and personalize your planner to suit your needs. Remember, the more you enjoy your planner, the more you’ll use it and the closer you’ll be to whatever goal you’ve set.

Two images side by side. Left image shows an open color-coded planner decorated with colorful markers. Right image show an open color-coded planner surrounded by colorful hi-liters and ultra tabs.
Make sure your planner works for you by color-coding tasks with removeable color-coding dots and Marks-A-Lot Markers. Or use Ultra Tabs® and colored highlighters to mark different tasks by color.

Create a strategy for color-coding your planner

Now it’s time to start using color effectively. There are many ways to personalize your color-coding to work for you. You can use specific colors to differentiate categories of events, identify priority levels of activities or indicate the difficulty or length of time needed to complete a task.

How you organize color coding can change depending on who you are and what you need from your planner. Here are some color-coding strategy examples that might work for you:


If you’re the head of your household, you can color-code your monthly planners to keep track of errands and home projects. Planning ahead and being prepared for these activities can help get tasks done faster so you have more time to relax. Here are a few personalized ways you can use color-coding in your planner:

  • Assigning chores to different family members
  • Tracking work and school schedules
  • Noting upcoming family events or appointments
  • Planning meals and shopping trips

Students or teachers

Students can also benefit from more personalized color-coding in their academic planners. Organizing assignments by subject using color can help keep homework and projects on track.

Another way students can color-code planners is by priority. Use different colors to indicate the priority level of assignment and application deadlines, after school activities, work shifts, chores and social events. Seeing your priorities laid out can help you declutter your task list and make you more productive.

Bloggers and influencers

Social media experts can color-code to organize posts by platform. Use different colors when drafting posts for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or your own personal blog or website to keep track of what is done and what still needs work.

Color-coding your tasks based on how long they might take can give you a better idea of how much you can get done per day. Noting how long you need to conduct a photo shoot, coordinate a guest post, or perform freelance work in your desk planner can help you better manage your days, saving you time and effort.

Image showing a color-coded planner on a blue surface surrounded by different colored planner accessories and colorful planner stickers
Improve your planner with colors that inspire. Use colored markers, Ultra Tabs, and fun planner stickers to encourage motivation or to mark tasks that need work.

Find ways to let color inspire you

There’s no doubt planners will help you stay organized and save you time, but they’re also a great motivational tool. When you decorate and personalize your planner the way you like, you’ll be more likely to use it every day, so make sure you’re doing it in a way that benefits you. Adding color to your planner can:

  • Help improve your mood: A great trick to improve your mood is by using colors to make yourself feel better about certain activities. Nervous about an upcoming dentist appointment? Use calming pastel tones like lilac or baby blue to mark it on your planner. Dreading chores? Happy colors like warm yellow or orange might just lift your spirits.
  • Showcase your feelings: If you want your daily planner to mirror how you’re feeling, use different colors to symbolize your mood. Dark blues and grays can reflect when you’re feeling sad, while bright colors can reflect when you’re feeling happy.
  • Inspire certain emotions: You can also use colors to get motivated for different tasks. Red, for instance, puts you on alert and inspires energy, which is perfect for indicating important due dates and deadlines. Green, on the other hand, has been known to inspire creativity and is ideal for marking crafting projects and artistic hobbies.
  • Visually track habits: A habit tracker is a great aid to improve your everyday life. By keeping track of your behaviors on a daily basis, you hold yourself accountable, which can motivate you to reach your goals. Color can create an encouraging visual in your habit tracker to help you stay consistent with or enhance your daily routine.

Explore more ideas for personalizing and color-coding your planner

Utilizing color and color-coding in these fun and easy ways not only increases the usefulness of your planner, but can also help inspire you and improve your mood. Add color to your planner for a personalized touch tailored just for you and show off who you are.

We make it easy to find all the best planner tools to get the most out of your planner. Find the planner supplies you need to make your planner work for you. Follow us on Pinterest for more planner inspiration and ideas. You can also connect with us on Facebook and tag us on Instagram to show off your own planner project.

Author: Rachel Gerharter

Rachel is a versatile writer with a passion for storytelling and the written word. With a background in both technical and creative writing, she has written articles and blogs on everything from car buying tips and makeup must-haves to celebrity panic disorders and personal organization. Throughout Rachel’s career in copywriting, marketing, and SEO, the main objective of her writing has always been to create content that will help the reader achieve whatever goal they need. No matter what the job entails, she’s always eager to share her knowledge and experience. When she’s not behind a computer, you can usually find Rachel spending time with her family. Whether it's reading to her precocious two-year-old daughter or catching up on the latest Star Trek episodes with her husband, she loves spending her free time with her loved ones. As a native of Southern California, don’t be surprised if you catch her at one of the many theme parks or museums in the area as well. She also likes expressing her creativity in other ways, like knitting, crafting, baking, and pretending she can paint.