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How to color categorize your Outlook calendar


It is well known that using color to label different information improves memory retention and hence productivity. You may have used color to highlight notes in school or in meetings, or used color to plot charts. Either way, there is a reason people use it.

When planning your schedule or booking meetings, Outlook Calendar is equipped with many tools to help you stay organized. One of these tools is the Categories feature, which allows you to categorize appointments by color. Here we take a look at how to effectively use categories in Outlook.

How to set up categories on Outlook calendar

There are two distinct ways to configure categories on your Outlook calendar. It depends on whether you are using the web version or the app, but both create the same result.

For the application version, the easiest way is as follows:

Screenshot of Outlook categories window
  1. One click on an appointment on your Outlook calendar.
  2. On the ribbon, the Appointment the tab should open.

  3. Click on Categorize.

  4. From the drop-down menu, select all categories to open the Color categories the window.

  5. To select New to create a new category.

  6. Name your category and select a color of your choice.

  7. Repeat for as many categories as you want, then click Okay on both windows to apply it.

Related: Keep Your Outlook Email and Microsoft Accounts Secure


Then you can categorize all your appointments by clicking on the already existing calendar events and selecting the category in the same Categorize scrolling menu. When you create a new appointment, the Categorize the option will appear in the New appointment window.

For the web version of Outlook Calendar:

Screenshot of Outlook web categories
  1. In the blue toolbar at the top of your screen, click the button Tooth icon for Settings.

  2. In the search bar, type “Categories“and select Categories from the results.

  3. In the Categories settings window, click Create a category.

  4. Name your category and select a color from the choices on the screen.

  5. Repeat, if necessary, and click to safeguard.

  6. Click on X to exit the settings.

You can then click and Edit all existing or new appointments, and where it is indicated Calendar with a colored circle next to it, you can choose the category from the drop-down list. You can delete or modify your categories by following the same steps for each version, and simply clicking on the Edit Where Wipe off options as needed.

Choose the right colors

Different colored pencils lined up

As mentioned earlier, categorizing your calendar using color has its advantages. All you have to do is check your calendar for the coming week and you’ll have a quick overview of what to expect. You’ll automatically know what’s going on without having to read all the text and distinguish it yourself.

Research has shown that color affects our behavior, emotions, and learning, and some colors are better than others when it comes to productivity. These are:

  • Reds, oranges and yellows for detail and memory recovery.

  • Greens for focus and focus.

  • Purple for creativity.

  • Blues for calming effects.

However, you should avoid using colors with which you have negative associations.

Related: Synchronize Microsoft Outlook with Google Calendar

How to effectively categorize your Outlook calendar

When you fill your Outlook calendar, your categories should add value instead of just being a checkbox exercise. Being smart about how you categorize your appointments will have the greatest effects on your productivity.

First, to keep it simple and effective, aim for around six distinct categories to avoid having too many. You may need to have more, but don’t overdo it.

Related: How to Live on Your Calendar for Task Management

Second, it should be distinctly different types of work. This will vary depending on your job responsibilities, but it could look like this:

  • Meetings

  • Collaboration or project work

  • Client work

  • Administration

  • Training and skills

There will of course be events that don’t always match every label perfectly, but select the one that is most closely aligned. Do what makes sense to you, and if you find that you’re not really using it, delete it.

Calendar categorization work

Your Outlook calendar is one of the most important tools you’ll use in a typical work week. It stores all of your meetings and tasks that you need to access, so it makes sense to use it to its full potential.

Have fun with different colors and types of categories, and stick to them. You’ll feel more organized and better able to read your schedule, which can save you a lot of time during these busy times.

Hourglass photograph on the desk

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