Right Brain Organizing: Using Color

Being right-brained can make it difficult to organize a book — or for that matter, anything — because the process just doesn’t work the same way.  But one of the best tips I’ve run across is simple: Color code.  Right-brainers tend to be more visual, so color is ideal for instant recognition.  Instead of having to remember where I put something, I just go to the color.

My first introduction to this was when I ran across File Solutions from The Container Store.   I’ve gotten very picky about organizing solutions because so many of them have been a waste of money.  But this system was four color-coded categories on pre-printed labels.  I didn’t have to think about where I was putting papers because there were labels for it.  When I brought it home, I decided I’d just get the folders ready for the first colored section.  I ended up doing everything in one day, and it was amazing having places to put things where I could actually find them.  I’ve had the system for 4-5 years now, and when I need something I just look for the color.  Better still, I don’t lose things as often any more.

So for stories, color can also be a useful tool.  When I start a project, I assign it in a color in my head.  Miasma is Irwin Allen Yellow.  Masks (or whatever it’s going to end up being called) is Navy Blue.   Some general guidelines for using it:

  • One project = one color.  Keep it simple.  It’s easy to remember that a project is green.  It’s not so easy if there are three other colors involved.
  • Pick colors you like. They have to excite you and make you want to refer to it.  That’s part of the fun of using colors.
  • If you’re working on more than one project, make sure the colors contrast so they don’t get mixed up.  Even if the two spiral notebooks are diverse shades of blue, it’s very easy to grab the wrong one.
  • Pick colors you can easily find.  If you need to pick up a spiral notebook and then later file folders, you want to be able to find the same color again.
  • Always listen to yourself.  I really like patterns, so I tried getting spiral notebooks in patterns.  While I liked the patterns, it actually made it harder for me to instantly recognize the notebook in a pile of other stuff.

I’ve used this for composition notebooks, file folders, and even in Scrivener for Windows (you can color code the cards and turn it on for the icons).   A lot of this is going to be trial and error, but when color is involved, it’ll be a lot of fun!