From 2001 to 2007 I created and worked on another program called Mori. My goal was to create the perfect information manager. I added all the feature that I thought I wanted, but for some reason it never worked well for me.
Instead of using Mori I would find myself writing my notes and to-do's in plain text files on my Desktop. As you might guess this was a little frustrating. I tried to use Mori, but I kept going back to my text files. In the end I sold Mori, and continued to make my lists in text files.
But, text files aren't perfect. My to-do list text files were always messy. Being free to make a mess is important to me, but without any structure I got overwhelmed as my lists grew large.
To get more organized I started adding the simplest structure that I could think of to my lists. For each project, I typed the project name and ended that line with a colon. For each task, I Tab indented it under its project and started the line with a dash followed by a space.
project 1: - task1 - task2 - task3
I typed everything else in free form and called those lines notes.
That small amount of structure made a big difference. I could still be as messy as I wanted to be, but I always had this simple structure to fall back on. My lists now had a structure, even if some parts were still messy.
I continued to tweak the system and turned it into TaskPaper. TaskPaper now has more tricks, but at its core it's a simple system for list making in a plain text file.