Humans are visual creatures as our brains are wired to process the world around us by what we see. According to the Social Science Research Network, 65 percent of us are visual learners. And in the day to day, we observe color coding within street signs, traffic lights, weather charts, and so on. Thus, we can color code our calendar to plan our time to get the most out of each day.
We all have limited amount of personal resources, including a finite amount of time in the day. Thus, you can color code your calendar as a visual way of organizing your time. At a glance, the colors will quickly tell you what you have planned for that day or week.
The color coded calendars can also help us separate different parts of our life from one another. Too much of one color for a specific week or day can indicate that we will probably get overwhelmed. When you get the right mix of colors, you can achieve balance between different parts of your life.
Why are Calendars Important?
Calendars organize time into days, weeks, and months of a particular year. We schedule events into our calendar to reflect our priorities.
Do you feel that you are constantly having to remind yourself of the meetings and appointments you have during the day? Or maybe, you want to work out, but forget to exercise?
In Getting Things Done, David Allen tells us that we need to remove this clutter out of our head and shelve it in its designated place. He recommends using the calendar to organize your time-specific appointments. Thus, you should schedule actions or events that have to get done at a specific time or day on a calendar. When you schedule something, you can clear your mind to focus on the task at hand. The calendar will be there to remind you of future meetings and appointments.
Calendar events can also help you set boundaries on your time in the future. You can remove the commitments out of your mind and lock-in periods with purpose. If working out or family time is important to your life, then you can schedule, so it happens. Also, you can identify the things and people that could prevent your progress and challenge your boundaries. That way, you can use your schedule to tell others what your priorities and how you want them to behave towards you.
What Calendars can you Color Code?
Most of us use either one or two calendars. If you use one, you are just jamming everything into one, and it can be helpful to separate your life out. If you use two, they are typically named Personal and Work, you are probably trying to achieve that magical work-life balance. We recommend that you should use more than two calendars, but the specific number depends on your lifestyle and priorities.
Mike Vardy of the Productivityist discusses using modes to organize your time and tasks. Generally, calendar events can fit into three categories of event-based modes: Energy-based, Activity-based, and Theme-Based. We can create color coded calendars that can fit into different ways that we operate each day.
Energy levels correspond to how we feel physically and mentally. Thus, we can create different color coded calendars that require different energy modes to accomplish various events.
- Meetings: For successful meetings, you need to have high-energy to be social with others to focus on important priorities and solve problems. Reoccurring meetings should be held at the same time each week, follow the same agenda, and start and end on time.
- Deep Work: In Deep Work, Cal Newport defines deep work as work that forces you to think critically with minimal distractions. So for this high-energy mode, you should schedule deep work blocks and use the Pomodoro Technique to help you get into a flow state.
- Shallow Work: This calendar can be used for work done in low-energy modes, or the busy work that does not require much brainpower. This work tends to be mindless and includes administrative tasks and household chores.
We have specific activities in our lives that we find meaning in. We can create color coded calendars for events using action verbs.
- Working Out: For many people, exercise is a vital component of their healthy lives. Thus, you can create a calendar to set aside time to complete your workouts during the week.
- Reading: Fast Company says that Fortune 500 CEOs read an average of 60 books per year. It is also widely asserted that reading 20 minutes per day on any given topic will raise your proficiency in that topic. Thus, you can create a calendar designating time for reading.
- Learning: Learning something new can benefit your mind, social life, and professional life. Thus, you can create a calendar for accomplishing that online course or learning a new language.
The theme is the broad idea that underlies several tasks and projects we are trying to do. We can create a color-coded calendar dedicated to an underlying theme of an area of your life.
- Personal Development: I use this calendar to schedule activities that relate to this them in my life as these are important for me. This includes time for doing my morning routine, meditating, and working out.
- Family: Many of us have to coordinate our lives with our significant other, roommates, or our family members. You can create a shared calendar to schedule events such as date night, house dinners, sports practice, or birthday parties.
- Social: A healthy life can include social life, and it may be helpful to put all your social plans on one calendar. It keeps all your enjoyable events with others, including sports, clubs, and nights out. In Facebook, you can export individual Events or your entire Events feed to your calendar app.
- Travel: As a frequent traveler, it helps to keep all your travel plans on one calendar. This calendar can contain all your plans when you are out of town, including flights, hotels, and bookings. We recommend the app TripIt, which is detailed below.
Calendar events help you set boundaries on your time in the future. You can remove the commitments out of your mind and lock-in periods with purpose. Then, you are better able to focus on the task at hand and your calendar will tell you what you need to be working on. You won’t miss another meeting or appointment. You can identify the things and people that could prevent your progress, and use calendar events to tell them how we want them to behave towards us.
App Recommendations for Color Coded Calendars
After thinking of what color coded calendars you plan on using, you need an application to house them. You should get a cloud-based app that syncs across all your devices for ease of use. Additionally, you need an app with reminders and notifications to alert you to when your event is happening.
Best Calendar Apps
- Google Calendar (Web, Android, iOS): This calendar app is excellent and integrates well with most productivity apps. When paired with Gmail, the app populates events from emails containing meeting invites and bookings.
- Apple Calendar (Web, iOS, Mac): This calendar is designed for the Apple ecosystem. It integrates well with Apple Mail to populate email events and Siri to help you add events verbally.
- Outlook Calendar (Web, Windows, Android, iOS, Mac): If you have a PC for your workplace or at school, then you are probably used to Outlook. The app is a pretty standard calendar that is found with the Outlook email client.
- Woven (Web, iOS, Mac, Windows): This calendar offers several features for “busy professionals.” You can create templates for scheduling similar meetings and events. Also, it provides a scheduling tool to help eliminate back and forth emails.
As I have a Gmail account for my emails, I personally use Google Calendar. It is a reliable app that integrates well for scheduling and events.
Facebook Events for Social Plans
The Events feature on Facebook can help you sync events to your Social color-coded calendar. You can organize and RSVP to gatherings in the real world with people on Facebook.
Typically, you have to log in to Facebook to find your event invites. However, you can sync events to your calendar. Navigate to a page for an event, and click on the three dots in the upper right-hand corner. From the drop-down menu, click “Export Event” to add events to your calendar in the following ways:
- Download a Single-Event: Sync a single event by downloading the calendar file. Choose the “Save to Calendar” link to download the calendar file. Import the calendar file into your calendar of choice.
- Email a Single-Event: Sync a single event by emailing the calendar file. Choose the “Send to Email” link to email the calendar file. Typically, you can add the event to your calendar directly from the email.
- Subscribe to Events Feed: Sync all your Facebook events by subscribing to the calendar feed. Choose the “Subscribe to all upcoming events” link and copy the link address of this calendar feed. Go your calendar app and add a calendar with this link address and it should populate your Facebook Events Feed.
The Facebook Events “Social” Calendar alerts me to when my friends are organizing events right in my calendar app. It helps decide on social plans without constantly checking Facebook to know when things are happening. Also, I don’t double book myself.
TripIt for Travel Plans
The TripIt Travel app is great for frequent travelers. The app organizes all your travel plans in one place and syncs well with your calendar app of choice.
For each trip, the app supports many types of travel plans including flights, cruises, hotels, rental cars, and event bookings. You simply have to forward confirmation emails from your inbox to email@example.com. Then, TripIt creates a master itinerary with the relevant travel information including dates, times, and confirmation numbers.
The itinerary can be synced to your calendar app by creating a new “Travel” calendar and adding the link address. This “Travel” calendar has been amazing for the many trips I have taken. It has prevented me from missing flights, showed when I have to check-in/check-out, and keeps my plans organized.
I hope this post will inspire you color code your calendar to make the most out of your time. If you have any further questions or need additional help, feel free to comment below or send me an email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you are wanting more Process Hacker content, you can subscribe to our short weekly newsletter on Productivity, Habits, and Resources.