Here’s the screenshot she attached:

Tracy’s color-coded iPhone screen.
Tracy’s color-coded iPhone screen.
Image: Tracy Chou

Bewitched, I reached out to Tracy, asking whether there was any rhyme or reason to her iPhone color coding.

“Hahah no particular reason! I like the aesthetics,” she wrote back. “I also enjoy color-coded bookshelves (like those at The Wing) and the idea of organizing based on something that seems ‘frivolous,’ but who’s to say it’s a worse organizational scheme that something that strives very hard to be functional?”

“Yes, PREACH,” I replied, right before ditching my folders and color-coding my own screen. Here’s my attempt:

My color-coded iPhone screen.
My color-coded iPhone screen.
Image: Leah Fessler

“Mine is far less beautiful,” I told Tracy. She clued me in on a secret, writing that she keeps some apps around “purely to help fill my app screens with the right colors.”

In a world so enrapt with organization and self-optimization, the internet’s equally frequent pleas for self-care can seem trite and ultimately futile. But Tracy’s iPhone color-coding is the perfect example of how to incorporate an easy, purely aesthetic, personal indulgence in our digital lives.

As books reporter Thu-Huong Ha writes in Quartz, while “organizing books by color and spine height is often derided because it seems to rate books by their external features, rather than their contents,” it’s still a delight to look at. And sometimes that’s good enough.

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