The ultimate color coding guide (part 2)
Planning & Organization

Color-Coding Your Planner – A Detailed Guide (part 2)

Looking for color-coding ideas or inspiration on how to use this technique in your planner?

You’re in the right place then!

This post is filled with ideas you could try out. 

(I believe some of them never came to your mind)

It will be so much fun! 🙂

In case you’re new to color-coding or you’ve just decided to add it to your planning routine, you can check out the post to see how you can classify your items and choose a color for color-coding first.

Here I’ll focus on different ways you can color-code, and because some of them depend on certain tools, I’ve decided to talk about the different tools, as well.

(again, some might be a pleasant surprise to you

I hope you’ll like the tips and ideas given here, and maybe some of them will inspire you to create your personal, completely unique way of color-coding your planner.

I can’t wait to start sharing this with you, so let’s begin!

Color coding tools

To be clear – the tools I’ll list here are not a must-have.

I’m naming them so you can get an overview of all the different items you can use for color coding.

(some might even surprise you!)

I’m sure you already have at least some of the tools listed below so you can immediately start color-coding (if not already 😉 ).

Therefore – to begin.

The most common way to color-code is to use a highlighter or a marker.

In today’s market, you can find many types to choose from – from those with “regular” color to fluorescent, pastel, glitter…

Of course, you can use different colored pens or pencils as well.

But you can also decide to use colored self-adhesive tapes (either those that are transparent or not), washi tapes, small post-it notes, or even stickers.

(and I’ll tell you exactly how in a matter of minutes).

There’s an incredible variety to choose from, especially in the washi tape and stickers category.

Although you can use any type of washi tape for color-coding, when it comes to stickers, some are more useful than others.

(I’ll tell you more about it later on 😉 )

Ok, I think that’s about enough.

As you can see, you can use an array of items and I believe you already have at least some of them at your disposal so you can start color-coding immediately.

Here’s how.

Different color coding tools for your planner

Ways to color-code

Now comes the fun part!

All the different ways of color-coding.

Because there are so many possibilities, I’ll explain them by the tool used (just to make the post easier to navigate through).

Here they are!

With writing tools

Of course, the most common way is to highlight the word(s) with a highlighter or a marker.

You can:

  • color the entire words,
  • underline them, 
  • circle words with a specific color.

However, there are other possibilities as well.

With the same tool, you can add a shape in front of a certain text – a square or a big dot are those that I use often.

Although these ways of color-coding are the simplest and fastest, there are other ways you can color-code your planner with pens/pencils.

If you plan your days in a place where you store different colored pencils (in other words – your desk! 🙂 ), or if you carry them with you no matter where you are, you can use a specific color for writing down an item that belongs to a certain category.

Even though this way is more demanding, it looks really nice to the eye, and it’s worth trying it out.

However, if you like to write down your tasks in a brain dump way (meaning, to spill out everything fast at once) and then think later about how to organize them and to what category each item belongs, you’ll instantly understand this method will not work for you.

The good news – there are many other ways to color-code, so let’s continue…

Amazing Ways Of Color-Coding Your Planner That You Will Love To Try Out - Some Might Be A Pleasant Surprise To You Click To Tweet

Color coding with Post-it notes

Even though using Post-it notes (“regular” or, more frequently, smaller sized) is again not for those with a brain-dump planning strategy, it does have its pros and it’s absolutely worth mentioning.

*** Short side note! *** 

Although, you can use any of these ways with the brain-dump technique. The only problem is that for some ways of color-coding you would need to rewrite your list, and I’m not a fan of spending the time by unnecessarily doubling the work. But if that doesn’t seem like an issue to you – do whatever you like – all options are available!

*** The end of side note 🙂 ***

For this way of color-coding, you need to write down your items on a Post-it note of a certain color (depending on your color-coding key) and then stick them in your planner.

When using Post-it notes, you need to account for their accessibility and be clear upfront about the colors your tasks/events belong to.

Those are the only “downsides” of this method (to my mind, at least).

On the other hand, the pros of this method are amazing.

Since Post-it notes have the ability to be peeled off and stick again, you can use this trait in a number of ways.

Here’s how: 

  • You can arrange them to fit into your schedule 
  • Alternatively, you can create a schedule out of them,
  • Decide what items/tasks are most important and stick them to a special place
  • You can transfer them to a different day/week if you didn’t manage to accomplish (or maybe even start) them
  • If you’re dealing with recurring tasks, again you can simply transfer them to another day/week (although this is a way to save time when planning, it will leave you an empty space in your planner – but you can use it to add some decor or write random thoughts, doodles, inspirational quotes, whatever you want…),
  • Or just peel them off and throw them away upon completion (although I’m a huge advocate of multiple usages of a single item, this is still an option…)

With washi tapes

Yes, washi-tapes can be used not only to decorate your planner but also to assist you in color-coding as well -in a way that will look more decorative than any other listed here.

(and if you’d like to see some purely fun and decorative notebook pages, check out these creative bullet journal washi tape spreads)

Depending on the color, pattern, and what’s printed on washi-tapes (and as you know, there is an unbelievable number of possibilities to choose from) you can use them in basically two ways.

The first way.

If your washi-tape has a pale, not-too-busy pattern, you can use it like a post-it note and add your text above.

After that, you can do the same things with it as with Post-it notes.

The second way.

If a washi-tape is too busy or colorful, there is simply no way you could actually see what’s written on it.

(ok, there is a chance for success if you spend at least 5 minutes decoding it in a pro-detective way, however – is it worth it?!)

But what if you reeeealy like its look and would like to (somehow) use it for color-coding? 

Well, you’re in luck – there’s an alternative.

You can use that beloved, colorfully patterned washi-tape if you simply cut a small piece of it and place it in front of a certain item.

(you can also add one at the end of the line if you want to)

Overall, color-coding with washi tapes can make your planner look really cheerful and fun.

Color coding with self-adhesive tapes

Self-adhesive tapes can also be used in a number of ways and here are some of them.

As a highlighter

If a self-adhesive tape is transparent to a certain extent, you can use it to highlight specific text in your planner.

Simply cut out the piece and stick it on top of the selected item.


If you’d like, you can peel off the tape once a task is done so you can more easily track and get an overview of items that still need to be accomplished.

As a post-it note

Colored self-adhesive tapes can be used the same way as Post-it notes.

In this case, a tape can be either transparent or not.

All you have to do is cut out its piece and write whatever you have on top of it.

If you want (or need), you can later arrange them or transfer them the way as was described for Post-it notes.

The only thing that asks for your consideration is the type of writing tool that you’ll use in this case.

Since self-adhesive tapes are made of plastic, the ink of some pens may not adhere to them and you will not be able to use them, or will not dry off completely and will make a smear after you close your planner.

I suggest you use a marker or some other pen proven to stay permanent on this surface.

The washi-tape way

As with the washi tape, you can cut only a small piece of self-adhesive tape and place it in front of a certain item in your planner.

Simple and effective!

The Incredible List Of Fun Ways To Color-Code A Planner - Some You Probably Never Thought Of Before Click To Tweet

With stickers

Finally, you can also use stickers for color-coding your planner.

If you ask me, the best type of stickers for this job belongs to some of these categories: 

  • simple one-color rectangular stickers, 
  • one color circles, 
  • stickers with symbols (exclamation mark, dot, arrow, star, question mark…), 
  • stickers with simple images on them (like home, building, notebook, pen, lightbulb, computer screen, phone, mop, car… you get the idea), 
  • emoji stickers.

(you can get creative and think of some other as well 😉 )

Printable color coding stickers instant download

The most common way I use them is to put them in front of a certain item, but you can also write on top of them (which is the case for rectangular stickers). 

My personal preference goes to stickers with simple images because I find them to be the most functional.

They are already a mix of color and a certain category and therefore are instantly informative and the easiest one to track when it comes to navigating through different tasks in a planner.

(in another post you can get more tips and ideas about color-coding your planner with stickers)

Additional remarks

On top of everything said, there are a few additional remarks I’d like to add.

(and I promise I’m wrapping this up! 😀 )

First, when deciding what way of color-coding to use, keep in mind the place (or places) where you do your planning or write/add items.  

Notice the tools that you already use and carry with you.

Decide if you’re willing (or in a position) to add some more planning stuff with you if you want to use a specific color-coding system.

Because if you often use your planner in many different places (at the home, office, other outdoor spaces), it’s really not functional to carry an array of items with you (especially if you’re not using a large bag!).

And the point of color-coding is to be a helper to your planning system, not to unnecessarily complicate it.

Next, when using this technique, to get an easier visual overview of the day (or a week, a month…), I suggest you restrict yourself from adding too many other colorful things all over your planner pages.

If you ignore this advice, there’s a high chance your eyes will scan the page in random directions several times before you notice the things that should be the backbone of your day.

(which can be quite visually and mentally confusing – and that is not an effective use of a planner)

However, I’m not saying you shouldn’t use them at all.

(hooray for that! 🙂 )

Just keep them simple and within a reasonable amount.

And finally, find a way that works for you, no matter how it might appear to the rest of the world.  

(and don’t forget, color-coding is not written in stone, you can always switch to another system whenever you feel like)

Rock The Color-Coding Technique - Mindblowing Tips & Ideas For Your Planner Click To Tweet

That’s it, my fellow friend! 😉

You’ve reached the end of this post.

If you liked these tips, please share this post and help spread the word – I’d appreciate it very much. ❤️

Also, if you’d like to improve your productivity level with the help of a planner, have a look at some awesome tips on how to use a planner to be super-productive.

Pssst... Here are more related posts just for you, dear! 😉

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  1. Thanks for the helpful tips! As someone who likes to stay as organized as possible, I am definitely going to try some of your ideas to stay on task for work!

    1. You’re welcome! Do try out some of them – with so many options to choose from, there has to be at least one that will be perfect for you. 😉

  2. Oh man! As a planner babe washi and I go hand in hand but I never once thought about using it in a functional way. Such great tips!

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you liked them! 🙂

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