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What Your Filing Cabinet Says About You

Updated on October 12, 2015

Filing cabinets allow people to tidy up messy piles of documents and put them in an order which will allow them to be located again easily. They are a form of desk control, and people who own them are much more organised than those who don’t.

The ability to file and neaten papers (or other objects) gives peace of mind to those who hate working in a messy environment and who want to control their space, circumstances and frame of mind.

There are three types of people who have filing cabinets: Employees, Utilitarians and Creatives. Depending on the type of filing cabinet personality that you fit, there are different types of filing system ideas that you can learn about and implement to improve your life and success in business.

When someone else owns the filing cabinet...
When someone else owns the filing cabinet...

The Employee

The Employee works in a space where someone else owns the filing cabinet. It is there as a tool to do the job that needs to be done and their personal considerations are not really taken into account.

Employees may grow to like filing cabinets after using them and may develop into Utilitarians or Creatives if they purchase their own filing cabinet.

If the Employee has their own filing cabinet elsewhere, then that is the one that should focused on when referring to this guide.

Utilitarians are often successful in business.
Utilitarians are often successful in business.

The Utilitarian

The Utilitarian views a filing cabinet as a piece of furniture, in which to store stuff in. And that’s pretty much it! They have a lot of stuff and it needs to go somewhere.

They’re not really interested in how their environment is presented (except from a customer standpoint), but they are interested in collecting things, having a neat space in which to work and making sure their day to day life functions smoothly and in an organised manner.

Utilitarians are often business owners, leaders, senior professionals and managers and they are intelligent and adaptive people with successful goals and strategies.

View the Utilitarian Guide.

How a Creative feels when their filing cabinet is organised.
How a Creative feels when their filing cabinet is organised.

The Creative

The Creative sees a filing cabinet as an extension of themselves and one of the many ways in which they can clean up their particular part of the world.

They often think the world is a random, haphazard place and want to control their sphere and circumstances mentally, emotionally and physically.

Creatives take great pride in the colour of their filing cabinets and this is reflected in the style of their whole office and their special way of doing things.

They are creative, spiritual, generous and thoughtful people, who are often business leaders, designers, artists and academics.

View the Creative Guide.


Below is a guide to Utilitarian personality types through their choice of filing cabinet function and colour.

Utilitarians are usually looking for functional, affordable filing cabinets that can do the job. If they happen to be in grey, brown, bluish or khaki colours, it is usually not a cause for concern.
Utilitarians are usually looking for functional, affordable filing cabinets that can do the job. If they happen to be in grey, brown, bluish or khaki colours, it is usually not a cause for concern.

Grey, Brown, Bluish Or Khaki Filing Cabinets

Older style steel filing cabinets were originally mass produced in the millions with the unexciting colours of grey, brown, steel blue and khaki. These institutional colours were used to promote an appearance of functionality, strength, authority, trust and dependability.

People attracted to these colours display similar characteristics, but many Utilitarians are not concerned with the colour at all. They just want something cheap in which to organise their items, as their thoughts are on bigger and better things.

Other Coloured Filing Cabinets

Since Utilitarians don’t worry too much about presenting interesting interior décor, if they invest in other coloured filing cabinets from the standard grey/brown/khaki ones, they are doing it to maintain a professional appearance for others.

Colours chosen usually blend right in to the office, such as black, white, navy or another utilitarian colour that matches the furniture and helps to impress upon the clientele that there is money to be made by talking to them. Usually there is!

Utilitarians who buy professionally coloured filing cabinets are successful in business and aim to win the game.

A neat filing cabinet says a lot about the positive characteristics of the person owning it.
A neat filing cabinet says a lot about the positive characteristics of the person owning it.

Multiple Filing Cabinets (Neat, Filled With Papers)

A Utilitarian who fills multiple filing cabinets with organised files is a great business strategist and is highly organised.

They know what they are doing, can be depended upon to do it logically and enjoy growing their company. They won’t waste money and will make excellent choices when spending it. They make good employers – as they tend to create structured jobs that utilise employees efficiently in their strengths while allowing them to communicate new ideas to management for consideration.

Sometimes these types of Utilitarians can be considered cheapskates, but they are always dependable, know how to succeed in business and can provide adequately for the employees they have.

Messy filing cabinets are a sign of trouble.
Messy filing cabinets are a sign of trouble.

Multiple Filing Cabinets (Messy, Filled With Papers)

If you see multiple, messy filing cabinets filled with papers, run! This type of Utilitarian used to be successful in business once – now they are coping with mental issues which have yet to be sorted out.

Often, they appear confused, extremely busy or not all there. Communication can be patchy. Having multiple messy filing cabinets is a sign of things gone wrong or a badly organised business.

If you are expected to organise and clean up the mess, be a nice person and do it because it will help more than you think it will – life will be easier for the people using the filing cabinets, the function of the business itself can improve and the Utilitarian may get peace of mind and may even be able to recover from the disaster.

Sssh! There's a genius at work when filing cabinets are full of neatly labelled items.
Sssh! There's a genius at work when filing cabinets are full of neatly labelled items.

Multiple Filing Cabinets (Neat, Filled With Other Items)

These are a sign of a genius at work. Utilitarians with neatly labelled items in multiple filing cabinets are busy working on masterpieces, for which lots of items are needed.

Their minds are extremely organised and efficient and the filing cabinets contain all their materials and tools for the undertaking.

These people make exceptional project managers as their attention to detail is outstanding. They also make great scientists, inventors, technicians and engineers and are the backbones of civilised society. Treat them with respect and listen to their wisdom!

Multiple Filing Cabinets (Messy, Filled With Other items)

This is a sign of a Utilitarian in trouble. They might be a hoarder who can’t get organised or may not be able to afford other furniture. Since they haven’t got around to neatening the contents of their filing cabinets, they may be having an extremely busy, stressful or depressing time in the world. Give them some help where you can, it would be very much appreciated and can make a huge difference in how the Utilitarian feels about their life and where it is going.


Below is a guide to Creative personality types through their choice of colour. It doesn’t matter whether the filing cabinet is messy or neat for Creatives, as they have a much better ability to bounce back from the mess issues faced by Utilitarians.

White filing cabinet people often have clean, hygienic workspaces.
White filing cabinet people often have clean, hygienic workspaces.

White Filing Cabinets

White filing cabinets tend to belong to people who value purity, simplicity, cleanliness and minimalist styles. Their office looks like something in a magazine layout and their interior decorating skills are truly magnificent.

You will find that white filing cabinets are often combined with healthy looking potted plants (real or fake), sublime designer couches, aesthetic fine artworks and extremely good looking rugs.

People who are attracted to white like very clean and hygienic workspaces, where they are in complete control of the environment and view themselves as the one irreplaceable functioning mechanism to make the whole business happen. Phones are regularly de-grimed, there is a perfumed aroma in the air and their desk doesn’t have much on it. They are the soul of the enterprise and enjoy being generous, kind and thoughtful with others and with money.

White filing cabinet people are popular, strong and intelligent people and can be found in the corporate world as leaders with fantastic people skills. Sometimes, they can be eccentric in personality, but it is a lovable eccentricity.

Red filing cabinet people are bold, passionate and have a flair for the dramatic.
Red filing cabinet people are bold, passionate and have a flair for the dramatic.

Red Filing Cabinets

People with red filing cabinets like to put their stamp on things and make a statement. What exactly the statement is depends on the individual, but since red is a very energetic colour, it can be said that people choosing red filing cabinets either have lots of energy or want to have lots of energy.

Red can be an uplifting, bold colour when placed within interior décor and is often preferred by people who have burning passions, exciting inspirations, a good sense of design and a flair for the dramatic.

You’ll find red filing cabinet people are intelligent, interesting and hard workers. They have more determination to succeed at their goals and thoroughly enjoy exploring different options in life to find the best way to do things. They can be perfectionists, but this is often a bonus characteristic as it drives them to produce their very best.

Green filing cabinet people like to be close to nature.
Green filing cabinet people like to be close to nature.

Orange/Green/Purple Filing Cabinets

Orange, green and purple filing cabinets are the sign of a true creative artist at work, not constrained by what society thinks. People who like these colours think outside the box and produce things that are unique contributions to the world.

Their personality is open, friendly and generous and they are excellent at communicating with others, as well as being fantastic with children. Whether or not the filing cabinet suits the décor (and usually it will) orange/green/purple filing cabinet people like to display bold, interesting interiors that are miles ahead of everyone else in terms of trendy picks.

Purple filing cabinet people in particular seem to be of a worldly, bohemian bent, while green appeals to scientists and naturalists. Orange people just love colour and make great designers!

Pink is the colour of youth and imagination.
Pink is the colour of youth and imagination.

Pink Filing Cabinets

Pink filing cabinet people like to think young and enjoy creativity that stems from the magical feeling of childhood. They enjoy family, children and have a huge amount of curiosity about the world around them.

Their businesses are friendly, appealing, professional and communicate outstandingly with the community through appearance and personality.

People who buy pink filing cabinets are very friendly and chatty, and can create business relationships in an organic manner that others admire.

Black filing cabinet people are highly organised.
Black filing cabinet people are highly organised.

Black Filing Cabinets

Black filing cabinets used by Creatives are a sign of an ultimate organiser. They belong to people who have highly regarded taste, amazing creative skills (tempered with amazing business skills) and the ability to make a lot of money.

You’ll find black filing cabinet Creatives in the top tiers of design, arts, communication, marketing and owners of forward-thinking companies in the business world. They are very intelligent, thoughtful, logical and have a great sense of style in their wardrobe, their homes and the way they live.

Black filing cabinet people have outstanding people skills and are smooth talkers. They are very believable and are good at sealing deals. They are excellent at carrying out ventures and projects and also make great project managers for new types of businesses.

Blue filing cabinet people are dreamers and have great intuition.
Blue filing cabinet people are dreamers and have great intuition.

Blue Filing Cabinets

People with blue filing cabinets are the dreamers of the Creatives. They have a multitude of inspirations, ideas, thoughts and processes to work with in their box of tools. Their personal characteristics include kindness, patience, thoughtfulness and introspection.

They have the ability to make people trust them and can naturally put people at ease. Blue filing cabinet people are dependable and create beautiful output that shows their intelligent thought process. They are also inspired greatly by the natural world, meditation and reflection as this allows them to explore all areas of their mind for potential wonderful ideas.

While they may or may not be good at interior décor, blue filing cabinet people perform outstandingly as solid team players who can offer sensible advice as well as unique artistic direction in business.

Vote Now!

Which type are you?

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Thanks For Reading

Whether you are a khaki Utilitarian who is highly successful in business, or a Creative bohemian purple filing cabinet owner, your choice of filing cabinet represents your strengths and weaknesses, which you can use to work out your full potential.

Try to keep your filing cabinet(s) as neat as possible as this helps Utilitarians be more organised and Creatives to be emotionally and mentally prepared for business.

© 2014 Suzanne Day


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    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      5 years ago from USA

      This is really interesting. As I read through it I kept vacillating between utilitarianism to creative. I guess I'm a little bit of both.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      6 years ago from North Central Florida

      Wow...this is everything we wanted to know about filing cabinets but were afraid to ask :D When I was still teaching I had three large gray filing cabinets and a two drawer pink one.

      And they were life much to keep track of and using the FC got the job done for me.

      Now that I am retired I do not have one. I maybe should but I think it is a type of rebelling on my part.

      Well done....

      thanks for sharing ....Angels are on the way to you this evening ps

      Voted up++++

    • DreamerMeg profile image


      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Great Hub. I have been around filing cabinets all my life but never looked at them in this way. My own personal filing cabinet was donated by someone who was throwing it out but in work I had a number of filing cabinets, all organised!

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 

      6 years ago

      Interesting Hub Suzanne. I believe that I am a Utilitarian since I have light gray cabinets w/dark gray trim and khaki files. Mine are not steel though they are cheap plastic ones. I voted up, shared and pinned it.


    • vespawoolf profile image

      Vespa Woolf 

      6 years ago from Peru, South America

      What an interesting perspective of file cabinets. I´m a creative who owns a black file cabinet!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      It looks like I am a creative filer. Very interesting hub.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      7 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you for trying. I still haven't got that colored file thing down. Have lots of colored folders - I love 'em - but they don't seem to help me find what I want, when I want... most of the time. Again, thanks for sharing, and trying to help! ;-)

    • Suzanne Day profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Day 

      7 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      Hi Marieryan, it says you are waiting in stasis before you get no one can tell what filing system you are using!

    • marieryan profile image

      Marie Ryan 

      7 years ago from Andalusia, Spain

      What does it say about you when you don't have a filing cabinet? Because that's me! I want one!

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 

      7 years ago

      This was very interesting Suzanne. I have a few filing cabinets at home and I have routines for practically everything which I do. I enjoyed reading your article because I wanted to find out what type of filer I used to be on the job, and what I am at home. I voted this up and more plus I shared and pinned it.


    • Susan Recipes profile image


      7 years ago from India

      Organizing our things in a proper manner is very important. Thanks for sharing this.

    • stuff4kids profile image

      Amanda Littlejohn 

      7 years ago

      Fun and interesting hub!

      Although I think you need to add a new category for me: random chaos filing type. Uh-oh.

      I just go on hoping that I never actually need to look up anything that I have 'filed' in my study!

      Bless :)

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 

      7 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      This was a fun and creative hub. I do not use a filing cabinet but the shelves with the pot plants is indeed me. Voted Funny

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      I own the taupe ones but want the blue ones. All those scrapbook items and manuals for items around the house have to go somewhere. What a creative hub!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      7 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Great organization is very important it is just life when one sits in a slouch that also tells you something about that person.

    • Suzanne Day profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Day 

      7 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      LOL @Writer Fox, so true. In fact technology was supposed to make us have paperless offices, but we can all see how much that happened!

      I agree @heidithorne, but the archeological dig might be a bit boring for the poor historian who has to sort through the mess.

      When I think of being an employee, I think of being a paid monkey, hence the pic @swilliams ;)

    • Writer Fox profile image

      Writer Fox 

      7 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      I really thought that computer systems would make filing cabinets obsolete. Didn't happen. They just made it easier to print more documents to put in even more filing cabinets! Enjoyed your article!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love the picture of the monkey looking through the filing cabinet this is how one can feel when things are out of hand. Great article!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      7 years ago from Chicago Area

      Fun and "Fun-ctional" hub! I'd say I'm a Utilitarian. However, my file cabinets are "greige," a combo of gray and beige that are at least a couple decades old. The contents will be awesome fodder for some future archaeological dig. :) Actually, I'm more proud of my virtual files. Thank God for the cloud!


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