Colours - ideas, best practice etc

Loving the new colour manager. When coloured notes were first introduced I had great plans to use them to help me organise notes – but I never really implemented it as I kept forgetting the meaning I’d assigned to different colours!

Now I’m starting again, I’d love to hear ideas and best practices for using colours to add another layer of organisation.

My thinking is mainly around using colours for ‘context’ - eg notes that I’ll want to work on when I’m in a partcular physical space (eg in podcasting studio) or a particular head space (eg ‘deep focus’ when I need a couple of hours undisturbed in the morning while I’m fresh, or ‘admin’ for mindless chores that I can power away when I’m more tired).

What are your practices? Thoughts?

1 Like

@maurizio.bortolotti reminded me of this topic that already highlights some use cases as well:


I’m for sure the outlier on this one. Multiple colors are just too distracting. I only color a note temporarily when my eyes get tired or when writing a long note or one that requires frequent moving to/from something else in other windows. I have however been able to come up with a custom color for all note templates that’s comfortable. That’s a big deal to me. Agenda life would be even better if I could set a default note color.
For those who use color coded notes often I’m sure it’s going to be requested at some point to make them category and/or project specific and the ability to change back to default. But I’m probably stating the obvious.

1 Like

Indeed, my point for a discussion it is not about a cosmetic use of colors. With the new possibilities in using colors in Agenda, those things have improved greatly. We can now choose more colors than before, and seeing them in the table of content offers another approach to organizing notes. The use of Colors to classify notes is more intuitive and allows us to catch immediately the different levels of our workflow. As said in other discussions on this blog about the use of Agenda, if the app facilitates organizing our work as a flux of events, closer to the actual way our work happens. The possibility to differentiate immediately the different levels of our workflow allowed by the use of colors in the notes is, in my opinion, a significant improvement of what Agenda offers as a possibility since its origins.


I totally agree with you on all, except my comments weren’t prompted by aesthetics but rather by my ADD. If I’m looking at a page that has 4 notes, 1 is red and 3 are default, obviously my attention goes to the red, initially but while working on red it is occasionally interrupted by the others. If all 4 colors were different it would significantly interrupt my concentration.

However, when I use colors in more modest ways such as with tags, text, categories or the calendar bar (which is how I wished we marked notes) this is to my advantage to instantly identify the subject matter/classification and where it fits in the tree of notes, even among minor changes in shades of the same color. To me, changing the whole note degrades the effect of subtle color differences that reside in it. Thus the first and second reason for a consistent bg color.

The third reason is that I personally find off-white or lightest grey easiest on my eyes for long periods. That’s not “cosmetic” by the way. There are physiological effects of color.

I would say that Agendas’ development of color use has been at least as beneficial if not more, to my implementation as any. Diverse functionality is kind of one part of their development philosophy. I’ve used many young apps over the years who strayed from their primary use plan to make a Swiss army knife. Agenda’s reliably consistent progress on the intended purpose as seen in the release notes from day one to present was the primary reason I chose it.


Yes, the idea I suggested in the thread remembered by Alex @mekentosj is not to color every note, but a selected number of a few main typologies, as I am doing. I agree with you that could be useful if the colors should be even on the calendar side. In that sense anyway, it is already very useful they appear in the summary of each project and On the Agenda window.
I think the use of the colors has to be personalized by every Agenda user because each of us can create a personal semantic of his/her workflow through colored notes.
Of course, the general way colors can be applied can be improved in this discussion. For example, I found very stimulating the proposal made by @trebso connecting colors to specific contexts.

1 Like

I’m currently experimenting with colouring notes relating to Goals and Plans yellow.

A while ago I tried to set up multi level planning (inspired by Cal Newport of Time Block fame). Only weekly and daily planning became a habit, partly because tags were clunky for this.

I’m hoping coloured notes will allow me to add some in quarterly planning and “project overview plans”.

1 Like

Would be good to me if I could also filter for lines of text with certain colors (like a note, or a panel that shows all text) and maybe text related to a hashtag. I do feel features such as these are planned, since Drew announced you plan to improve search this year so put my name in this feature.
I say that because I use colors to denote if a line of text is a question that needs answering, if it is a conclusion, etc.

1 Like

It is fascinating to learn from @trebso and @artehur how many possibilities the use of colors inside notes can offer to build a Semantic of Colored Notes. From context related to colored lines, there is a world of possibilities.
Even involving the Search All to find colored notes by colors could certainly be a strong point.
More than in the Categories and Projects sections, the daily workflow in Agenda is revealed in the Today and On the Agenda sections. Using colors these two could be organized for example in three parts, current and minor events, main events (like the milestones in the Gant Chart), and recurrent events; each of them could have a different color, or more than one, to organize the workflow. Of course, this is just a further possibility of organizing a Semantic of Colored Notes in Agenda.


Lots of possibilities!

My particular interest in coloured notes is because I see it as another way indicating the status (broadly defined) of a note, along with:

  • On The Agenda / Not OTA
  • Completed / Not Completed

I see it as a tag at note level.

I really like the point @maurizio.bortolotti made: "not to color every note, but a selected number of a few main typologies”.

In my initial excitement I thought of all the ways I could use coloured note. Now, I’m asking myself, when will coloured notes really add value in my workflow. At the moment, the one that shows greatest promise for me is Goals and Plans.


I totally agree with you @trebso. I’ve always found the tags a bit dispersive, because, in the end, you have too many to manage, the colors could take the place of the tags for the big categories as you said.

Perhaps the general question we need to ask is: should we use annotations to organize our workflow taxonomically (i.e. classify all actions using annotations), or should we use annotations to mirror actions in our workflow (i.e. to use them in a more fluid way)? For me, the answer is the second option, and the colors can go a long way in enhancing the use of notes this way because they are more intuitive.

The above are some really good ideas. I haven’t been thinking in terms of presentations; like for larger project breakdowns put together via overviews. Colored tags would add a whole new dimension! I’m currently using standardized text colors for block quotes or a portion of, which I also use as links to the source material until we get mouse overs. Still working on tags as triggers in shortcuts.

I was referring to the color bar as the marking method and on the note left side, not being color associated with the calendar. That is a thought though.

1 Like