Why You Need to Color-Code Your Calendar: 3 Science-Backed Tips  

Dive deep into the colors’ psychology and gain insights on using them effectively to boost efficiency. Explore the article now for more intriguing findings!

Perception of color is influenced by a complex set of biological, psychological, and cultural factors. Color can calm and excite, increase compulsive reactions, and affect the heartbeat and body. This is why marketers love to study the effects of color and use their findings to increase sales.

A human’s perception is influenced by colors a lot. With only a color a person can give a signal that affects others. For example, an experiment in combat sports showed that color can cause bias in referees: they gave more points to competitors in red uniforms, even when the performance of the competitors in blue was identical, because red is associated with power and aggression—positive traits in combat sports. Red often catches our attention due to its social and cultural associations, so we unconsciously mark important tasks and deadlines with it.

Certain colors can have strong effects on people’s emotions too. In an experiment conducted in a Swiss prison, the walls were painted pink. The psychologist found that this had a calming effect, reducing the level of aggression of inmates. So maybe you’ll want to use pink in your team’s color-coded calendar when assigning tasks in your quarterly report.

As you can imagine, the right color-coding and good calendar management helps to increase productivity and decrease fatigue. Just as we train a dog to respond to simple commands, we can teach our own brains to recognize the signals indicated by the colors in our calendar. Let’s look at how to use color to give the right orders to our brains and reduce procrastination.

Calendar Management  

As you might know, contemporary calendars allow you to create various calendars with events in distinct colors, such as “Work,” “Family,” and “School,” for example. Color-coded calendars give you a clearer picture of how you should allocate your time. Let’s say you choose red for “Work” and blue for “Rest.” One day you might look at your calendar and see too much red in the evenings and not enough blue. This way you know it is time to make room for rest and recalibrate your work-life balance. 

Color can be a useful tool for regulating your mind and setting it in the right direction. When structuring your personal calendar, try to fill it with colors that give you positive emotions. If you design a calendar for your team, we suggest opting for a classic coloring method, such as the red, amber, and green traffic-light system, so it’s clear for everyone.  

Visual Project Management  

It is important to understand the software you are using daily, whether it is a Google or Microsoft workspace. This will help you to better visualize your productivity, make your schedule easier to predict, and balance your day in the remote-first era. Visual project management tools, such as kanban boards, calendars, and Gantt charts, show the progress of each project or task and allow more accurate planning of time and human resources. No matter where each team member is based, you can easily be on the same page when these tools are introduced into your routine. 

If you use the Microsoft 365 suite, try Calendar Overlay Pro for SharePoint as your visual task management tool. SharePoint calendar color-code allows you to assign different colors to distinct types of events, making it easy to identify important appointments. With SharePoint calendar color-code, you can quickly differentiate between work and personal events or between different projects or clients. To complete a powerful kit of visual project management software, consider adding Kanban Board Pro and Gantt Chart.  

With the ability to color-code events in the SharePoint calendar, users can visually navigate between work and personal plans, meetings and deadlines, and other major events. You can use both the mobile and desktop versions to color-code events in the SharePoint calendar

Psychology of Color: How Colors Affect Emotions  

The most famous works in the field of color and the psycho-emotional state belong to the well-known Swiss psychiatrist Max Lüscher, who, based on his numerous studies, developed a diagnostic test using color to measure people’s psychosomatic and emotional states. 

It’s no wonder that, from a scientific point of view, this test is widely criticized, because medicine is constantly evolving and the test was developed over seventy years ago. But the research the test was based on is still relevant today. 

Why are some colors considered stimulating and others relaxing? It turns out that this effect is related to the functioning of the hypothalamus and the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The red-to-yellow part of the spectrum activates the sympathetic nervous system, which causes fight-or-flight response: the heart rate increases, blood sugar rises, the blood supply to the muscles increases, and all senses heighten. Blue-to-green, on the other hand, suppresses the sympathetic nervous system while activating the parasympathetic nervous system. This sends the body a signal to rest and relax: pulse and breathing slows down and digestion starts. 

Apparently, this response mechanism to colors was formed over many thousands of years of human evolution, when all human activity was subject to the changes of day and night. The body reacts to the colors of the red-yellow spectrum at the onset of dawn, preparing it for activity, and the blue-green is perceived as dusk, which is a signal for rest. This primitive model is the simplest explanation of why certain colors are preferable for each of us in different moments of life: when we need rest, we choose green or blue, and when we want a boost of energy, we prefer orange or red. 

Color psychology

How to Choose the Right Colors for a Calendar  

Based on scientific data, we advise choosing the following colors for a color-coded calendar: 

  • Red – important tasks, urgent events, deadlines. 
  • Yellow/orange – brainstorming sessions, creative workshops. 
  • Green – your daily tasks, routine. 
  • Blue – lunch, coffee breaks. 

Of course, you may want to experiment with calendar colors by choosing pastels or an alternative color palette, but we advise keeping those for personal use. For shared calendars within your team, the best option is classic color-coding to avoid any misperceptions.

In tools like SharePoint, calendar color-coding can highlight important deadlines and meetings, ensuring that you never miss a key date. In addition to helping you stay organized, SharePoint calendar color-coding makes it easier for others to see your schedule, which is useful for collaboration and team projects. Make sure to check out our article on how to color-code events in your SharePoint calendar step by step. 

Calendar Color-Coding Tips  

A color-coded calendar will help you structure your tasks efficiently, highlighting what is most important and helping you keep sight of what you are constantly putting off. Let’s look at the most important points for visual project management using a color-coded calendar. 

Merge All Your Calendars into One  

Any contemporary color-coded calendar allows you to create several calendars and merge them into one when you need to see the full picture. 

People usually create a work calendar and a personal one, but there is an alternative way to divide your activity. For example, you can create five calendars of the following types marked with distinct colors: 

  1. A main work calendar, which shows the daily recurring tasks at your main workplace: meetings with co-workers, routine tasks, and lunch.  
  2. A deadline calendar, which contains the deadlines for all your to-dos and projects, including projects outside your main workplace. 
  3. An appointment calendar containing appointments and irregular events, such as a dentist appointment or a parent-teacher meeting. 
  4. A self-development calendar with training, webinars, books, and anything else you want to learn but tend to put off and forget. 
  5. A “hobby” calendar, marking the time you devote to your favorite activities outside of work.  

You can create even more calendars…just don’t get carried away. Dividing your activity in this way makes it easier to manage your time; you can focus on something specific in one calendar rather than using a color-coded calendar containing all your projects, appointments, and things to do. Then, if you need to see everything all at once, you can overlay multiple calendars and have them in one view.  

Having separate calendars with the option to merge and share them is also handy when you want someone to be aware of your plans. For example, you can share calendars 1 and 2 from the list above with your colleagues so they are aware of your workload and plans, but without sharing your personal life. Your team can merge their work calendars to make the planning of joint activities easy and convenient. You can do this even with calendars originating in different workplaces, thanks to the iCalendar protocol that Calendar Overlay Pro offers. 

Overlay all your calendars in one place

Try Virto Calendar to have all your Microsoft 365 calendars in a unified view.

Set a Time for Everything and Stick to It  

With a calendar, you can clearly see the daily limit of tasks you can fit into a day. For scheduling work tasks, your limit will be your working hours. But what if your day is packed to the brim and one of two things happens: you realize you won’t meet a deadline, or a new, more urgent task comes along? Due to time constraints, you will have to move some tasks to the next day. It may seem inconvenient, but careful planning protects you from burnout. Even if you have an extremely urgent task, first try to weigh the odds of completing it today. It would be a shame if you took on an emergency task only to find yourself wide awake at 3 a.m. with it still unfinished. If you feel you cannot complete the urgent task today, “chop off” a piece of the task by duplicating it on your calendar and move that piece to tomorrow. 

Don’t forget about breaks. Rest is required even for the most interesting work. To prevent burnout, try apps like MakeSomeBreaks. This is a free app that you can install in your Microsoft Teams. It adds a button to your Microsoft Teams calendar to quickly add breaks between meetings. Can you imagine how grateful your vocal cords will be? 

If you have a boring task to do, of course you can put it off for later, but it will always be an inconvenience. If you postpone a boring task until next week, you will have less free time in that week. And it will still feel like such a drag, and like punishment for your own procrastination, as other tasks will crop up regardless of the number of tasks you already have.  

Instead, we would suggest breaking down an unpleasant task into smaller pieces and color-coding them pink (this might help to calm your mind and improve your mood, as we have learned) or delegating the task to someone else. Reward yourself every step of the way when working through a monotonous task, because we all know how painful it can be to do tedious things! 

Set Realistic Goals for Your Schedule  

A calendar gives you information about tasks’ duration, so you can analyze what you spent time on last week, for example. You can even trace the dynamics. For example, you may notice that your productive hours usually drop by the end of the week, and sometimes you may experience low productivity for a few weeks, then you recover, and then go through a “low” period again. And of course, if you group tasks by activity, you can estimate the time spent on each activity. You could use this to build a life balance wheel to see what parts of your life require improvements.

the wheel of life

Every time you create a task, try to approximate its duration, no matter how accurate that estimate is. After you complete the task, change your estimate to the actual duration. In this way, you can practice your estimation skills. This will help you to allocate the right amount of time for future tasks and set realistic goals. 


Effective calendar management is crucial for staying on top of deadlines and appointments. Features of Calendar Overlay Pro like SharePoint calendar color-codingcan help you stay organized and clearly see the priorities in your tight schedule. It is certainly convenient that you can share and overlay calendars with your colleagues and family to quickly coordinate common activities. 

Start exploring Calendar Overlay Pro for free if you are working in the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. With it you can overlay multiple calendars from various resources, expand the default SharePoint calendar color-coding possibilities, view it as a mini-calendar on your SharePoint website, and overall have an infinitely customizable tool for visual project management.

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How do you color-code an Outlook calendar? 

To color-code an Outlook calendar on your mobile, follow these simple steps: 

  1. Open your Outlook calendar on your mobile device. 
  1. Click the round icon containing your initial in the top-left corner. 
  1. Click the gear icon next to the calendar you wish to color-code. 
  1. The calendar settings will open with the color palette. Select from the color options available. 

To color-code an Outlook calendar in the browser, follow these steps: 

  1. Hover over the calendar name in the list of calendars on the left-hand side of the screen. 
  1. Click the three horizontal dots. 
  1. Go to the “Color” menu and choose the color you wish to use.  

There are fifteen predefined shades for a color-coded calendar and a palette for custom color creation. In the mobile app, only thirteen colors and no custom option are available. 

How do you color-code a Google calendar?  

To color-code a Google calendar on your mobile, follow these steps: 

  1. Open your Google calendar on your mobile device. 
  1. Click the three horizontal lines in the top-left corner. 
  1. Click the “Settings” button. 
  1. Click the calendar you want to color-code. 
  1. Click the color name at the top of the page. 
  1. Select from the color options available. 

Now the color-coded calendar is customized to your needs!  

To color-code your Google calendar in the browser, follow these steps: 

  1. Hover over the calendar name in the list of calendars on the left-hand side of the screen. 
  1. Click the three vertical dots.  
  1. Choose the color you wish to use.  

In the browser version you can create a custom color, but this is not an option in the mobile app. 

How do you color-code an iOS calendar?  

To color-code an iOS calendar, you can use the built-in Calendar app on your Mac, MacBook, iPhone, or iPad. Here are the steps to follow on an iPhone or iPad: 

  1. Open the Calendar app. 
  1. Tap the “Calendars” button at the bottom of the screen to view your list of calendars. 
  1. Tap the “(i)” symbol next to the calendar you want to color-code. 
  1. In the “Color” submenu, you will see the current calendar color. Click on it to open the menu with all the available colors. 
  1. Select the color you want to use for the calendar. You can choose from preset colors or open a custom menu and select or create your own using a grid, spectrum, or sliders. 
  1. Tap “Back” when you have made your choice. 

On your Mac or MacBook, you can color-code directly in the main calendar screen without opening the menu:  

  1. Click the calendar icon in the left-hand corner of the bar with all your calendars. 
  1. Double-click the calendar you wish to color-code. 
  1. Choose your desired color.  

Your color-coded calendar is ready to use! 

Kristina Melnikova
Kristina Melnikova

Meet Kristina Melnikova, writer at VirtoSoftware. With a deep passion for IT products, she's a master at translating technical and business complexities into easy-to-understand content.

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