Closed September 2017

Clutter Video Tip: How to File…or Not! Why Color Coding Paper Files May Be a Bad Idea

Does your filing cabinet look like Rainbow Brite handles your paper files? Organizing files and paperwork shouldn’t require a paint palette and an answer key. In this video, I will show you why color coding may not be the way to organize your files effectively. When you are deciding how to organize your files, leave the rainbows in the sky and the unicorns and pot of gold in the magical forest.

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Hi. I’m Lorie Marrero, creator of the Clutter Diet book and on-line program, and today we’re going to talk about reasons why you should not color code your files. Now, you may be surprised to hear me say this, because a lot of you may think when you are considering organizing and filing systems that color coding is a great idea. And it can be. If you have only a couple of colors or if you have entire sets of files that are different colors than another set of files, that can be very effective. But what doesn’t work is what I’ve seen in a lot of clients’ homes, and it makes them stuck on their filing and really unable to get it done. It’s hard enough to get our filing done, nobody really loves it, so these are a few of the reasons why you might get stuck on this.

So first of all, they’ve got all different colors, lots of them, for different things. So they’ve got green for financial, blue for the kids, purple for personal, and red for important. And then the yellow might be some other hobby or something. And they’ve got all these different colors to keep track of. Well, the very first problem is that, that gives you yet another decision that has to be made about your papers. So, we’ve talked about how organizing is a lot about making decisions. So, if you’ve put yet another decision in front of you before you get to file that paper, you may not be able to decide. There are a lot of ambiguous papers out there where it could easily be green for financial, or purple for personal. It really might go either way. So then you kind of get stuck there and you end up not filing it.

The second thing is that having all these different colors are hard to remember. Again, if you just have two, maybe three colors, that actually might be effective. But if you have five or six or seven, you probably need to have a little key that you’ve written out for yourself with a little guide to which color is which, and that is yet another impediment to your filing.

The third thing is that you’re probably going to have trouble stocking all these colors of folders. So what’s going to happen when you have a personal paper, a paper you want to file, and then you find “Oh no, I’m out of purple folders.” Well then you’re stuck again and you can’t get the filing done. It takes a lot of thought and remembering to make sure that you buy all the different colors and keep them around.

And then the last reason is that other people may not be able to follow your system very effectively if you have too many colors going on. So someone might walk into your office and open the file drawer and just be, you know, bewildered with all the different colors and not sure, especially if they’re trying to file for you. They may not know how to make that decision, how to remember what that color is later, and so on.

So think about that as you approach your filing. And if you need help with your filing system, we can help you personally in our Member Message Boards. You can join our program free for 14 days and get all the help you want from our team of organizing experts. You can find out more about this at

See you next time, and may you always be happy and grateful for having more than enough.

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