original post by @Folke on May 5th
I would absolutely love having a color indicator on each task, indicating how closely I must watch and consider this task. It is an absolute life-safer for me.
In the app I currently use, Doit, there is a feature called Priority, that I use for this purpose. This was the main reason I moved from Nirvana, actually. I had figured out while using Nirvana what I need a good way to cope with long lists (Next, Waiting, Someday), and people there had all kinds of tricks using Someday or Nirvana’s Later lists etc etc to limit the length of the Next list. But I discovered that what I need is definitely not to move true Next actions away from the Next list. What I need is a way to see very easily which ones I need to look at right now and which ones I can ignore.
The Priority feature offered in some apps (like Doit and RTM) is just what I needed. My standard setting for new tasks is Medium (blue) - a discreet but clearly visible vertical blue bar on the left. I can increase the level to High (red) or decrease it to Low (turquoise).
I always speed-review all blue and red Next and Waiting tasks every single day. I then deliberately ignore the Low ones, which makes the daily scan so much faster and safer. I can concentrate on the right things. That is important - I won’t overlook things that I should be looking at just because they drown among all the rest. It is more than enough to review the Low ones once a week - otherwise I would not have turned them Low.
By having the Low Next actions still on the Next list, rather than stashed away somewhere else, which many people do, I gain the advantage that whenever I filter for something to do (say Errands) I see on one single screen all such tasks that are truly Next, i.e. possible to consider doing right now. That is important, too - I won’t overlook some possible actions just because they are “hidden away” on some other list.
The clear turquoise color for Low also makes it easy to focus appropriate attention to those during my weekly reviews. (The red and blue ones I see every single day, but the turquoise ones may deserve particular attention during the weekly review.)
Having the red color for High makes it possible to identify those (hopefully few) tasks that I never want to overlook when I visit the Next list, but which I am unwilling to put in Focus yet if I am overloaded. (If I have “flow” and am not overloaded, I usually Focus my red tasks almost immediately, unless there is some obstacle, but if I have fallen behind, been sick or at some conference etc, I may have more red tasks than I can possibly focus on right now.) Very useful.
Now, you may ask, what on earth does this have to do with “priority”? The answer is “nothing but everything”:
My criteria for selecting a level (color) is based entirely on the answer “when do I want to be sure that I see and consider this task again at the very latest?”. If the answer is (for a Next or Waiting task) “tomorrow’s daily scan”, then I select Medium (blue). This is my default, as it were. If the answer is “every single time I even open the Next list”, then I mark it red. If the answer is “next week is good enough for review - because I know that I will stumble upon it sooner if a matching context comes up”, then I mark it turquoise.
Now, it just so happens that the ones I want to see more often are usually more important or urgent or critical or whatever than the rest, in other words “higher priority” in some sense of that infected word.
The beauty of having a colored indicator for this is the fact that this “priority” level is always visible in the corner of my eye (without needing to read) and it is equally visible no matter how I keep my lists grouped, sorted or filtered. I always see the color, subtle but distinct. And I look at the color literally all the time as a time-saving and virtually indispensable guide for my attention.
I strongly recommend you implement this.