I've shared this lifehacker post in my Reader shared items already, thanks to SdC, but it is life-changing. Enable multiple inboxes and superstars in GMail and go through the steps and you can have a nicely organized inbox like this:
This rakes in a lot of positive shoulder-surfing comments, and it's productive. I would also suggest enabling keyboard shortcuts. The shortcut "s" will iterate through the superstars. The inboxes on the right panel do not refresh immediately, but you can always force this with "gi".