I managed to acquire some multi-colored whiteboard markers and played around to see how i could use more colors. i also went through my actual task-board and categorized all tasks more accurately to be able to look at some real data.
I reduced the list to 5 categories:
blue (wrench/screwdriver) is development or more generally work or an action outside the task-manager,
orange (envelope) is send an email or contact someone
green (pencil on paper) is reseach, reading or in my case also testing software
yellow/cyan (pencil) is write something that is not a message, it could be an article, a log post, or some other content.
black (checkmark) is tasks that are done,
and a red border is used for currently selected task. Inverse (clock) as in the linux-office tasks are used for tasks that wait for an event, in this case the release of a new version of libreoffice so that i can then upgrade my clients computer.
Sketching on a whiteboard can only get you so far. Even though i did manage to acquire a few colored whiteboard markers as a next step i tried paper printouts with frames the size of a mobile phone. Of course, they were not exactly the right size, but they did show that there was enough room for the information i was trying to present.
Next up was a simple mockup tool, which wasn't really more than a glorified drawing application, but it made a few things easier.
You can see the colored buttons on the first version. The colors do seem to scream a bit to much though. Then i tried icons and adding the numbers. I also made an attempt without colors, highlighting the inbox and current tasks. You'll also notice that the checkmarks are grey to lessen their impact. Those are done tasks after all. Then i changed the colors a little bit, using cyan instead of yellow, and grey checkmarks. also borders between projects. And finally the grey color trick applied to the buttoned version.
nReduce feedback quality just improved by a big step. One commenter went as far as producing their own mockup as a suggestion. Now that's what i call engagement. thank you! The suggestion is to also offer an overview by type.