For the electronic solution
I like to use the Freemind mindmapping tool (free open source)
It's easy and intuitive to use, meaning I can go months without using it and still remember the keyboard shortcuts:
- insert - add cell
- delete - remove cell
- space - toggle collapse/expand cell
- ctrl+B - bold
- ctrl+X - cut cell
- ctrl+V - paste cell
- ctrl+C - copy cell
- ctrl+K - add link
- f1-f8, shift+f1-f8, ctrl+f1-f8 - change color of cell text (I have a few favorites memorized).
For the first layer of cells I make them color coded clouds (ctrl-shift-b then change the cloud color with right-click+format+"cloud color") for easy identification. Each cloud is a major category. Ex, I'll have one for personal, one for each major project, one for school, etc...
Within each cloud the first level of cells is the priority:
- Now (critical tasks)
- Tomorrow (critical task that don't need to be solved immediately)
- Future (non-critical tasks)
- Concept (good ideas that I may occasionally stew on during breaks)
- Deferred (tasks that are indefinitely deferred unless I have nothing else to work on)
Note: As you may suspect, the deferred tasks often become irrelevant over the long term and may be trimmed altogether.
I prefer a mind map for three reasons, I can move around the hierarchy very fast with just the keyboard, I can collapse everything that I don't need to see right now, and it's really easy to move stuff around from one category to another (simple copy/paste).
Whatever you do don't use a program that uses popup notifications. Otherwise you'll start to suffer from what I call "twitterbrain" where, you become so adapted to being constantly interrupted all the time that you subconsciously start to anticipate it (keeping you from really being able to get into your regular 'flow'. If you do use notifications set an interval you expect that doesn't interrupt your work (like every day at lunch).
I see so many bloggers and (so called) journalists that complain that the 'The Internet is to blame for their Attention Deficit!'; because they're no longer capable of sitting down to read a book for more than 10 minutes. What they fail to consider is, they carry around electronic devices that have an unheralded ability to interrupt them 24/7/365 with arbitrary announcements.
Windows also does with windows that steal focus (like virus update notifications). I had no idea how much this used to bother me until I started using Linux Mint as my primary OS (which follows strict user interface guidelines that don't allow this). Stealing focus is cruel, it's like having an office worker that taps on your shoulder every 15 minutes to tell you the latest Chuck Norris joke.
Note: I still use Windows for development but only a minimal install with no virus scanners/firewall (I block bad stuff at the router and avoid suspicious pages) to cut down on the number of programs that like to steal focus.
I just took a look at tasque because I've never used it before and the prioritization classes are surprisingly similar to the ones I use (Note: I've never used a todo list app with prioritization before either). Turns out I'm not very smart/original after all :). I never really found the arbitrary High/Medium/Low priority classes to work well because they aren't attached to a real-world value. Mentally, the 'High' priority class can drift from 'today' to 'this week' pretty easily. My priorities tend to drift when I start procrastinating. Using real world valued etches the timeline in stone. Relativity be damned.