How I work … a rainbow of highlighters

One of the first questions I am asked about my morning coffee posts (see also #psgplans on instagram) is how my highlighter system works.

Here’s an example planner page from a planner page I used two years ago:

I forget where I first learned the tip to highlight the things you don’t want to stand out. Perhaps you remember highlighting notes in school before a big exam, suddenly the entire page was a bright colour and the only words that stood out were the unimportant words such as “and” or “the” … or “or”. In any case, I adopted using a highlighter for completed items on my task list years ago, and haven’t looked back since.

While I don’t decorate my planner, I do like colours to help code tasks and events so I can quickly see what’s happening and why.

I’ve tried many things over the years. I like to code my businesses and personal items in different colours, and do so in my digital calendars; however, for paper planning, doing so is more trouble than its worth.

What is important to me is tracking when tasks are completed so I can see if there’s a consistent pattern to my productivity, or lack thereof. (I’m human!)

In order to do this, I colour coded the week. Each day gets its own colour, and I’ve been using the same system for many years now. It’s easier to remember one highlighter and any working pen as I’m running out the door instead of making sure my multipen has all the right ink colours or I have all the different colours with me.

This simplicity has helped me be consistent and use the system. The only challenge can sometimes be acquiring the highlighters in all six colours. Why just six? While I have loved a grey highlighter, it’s just easier to code Saturday nights and Sundays the same.

  • Monday is red.
  • Tuesday is orange.
  • Wednesday is yellow/brown. (depending on legibility requirements).
  • ThuRsday is green.
  • Friday is blue.
  • Saturday is purple.
  • SUnday is purple.

I like these Stabilo Boss Original Highlighter Pens, the red is a nice red (and not too pink), the orange is pleasant and contrasts nicely with the red. They can’t roll off my desk (though the cats love to try to launch them). In theory they’re refillable. As is evidenced by the photo, I don’t have a complete set yet. Each time I run low on Wednesday I can’t find a yellow one in stock at my normal stores so I end up buying any yellow. I have my eye on these dual colour highlighters, however they’re configured in a way I wouldn’t use the same one two days in a row.

Edited 24 March 2016: Today I completed the set!

What’s do the bold and underlined letters of the week mean? I’m very particular about the date format but don’t like to use two letters or a number for the day of the week. I wanted one letter. I’ve not seen official standards to my choice of MTWRFSU, but I know I’m not the only one using them.


One response to “How I work … a rainbow of highlighters”

  1. Cornell University uses the same one-letter codes for days of the week. (Or, at least, they did 1992-2001. I have no reason to think he’s changed since.)