"Personally I keep a list of the top 10 applications I launch (Chrome, Visual Studio, a screen capture utility, etc) right at the very top level of the "Start" menu so I can get to them quickly"
So put them on the metro page. Functions in a similar way: press the windows key and you'll see all your pinned apps for quick and easy access as well as be able to just type the name of any given app you may want.
Prior to the release of Win8, I was highly, highly critical. Thought it was the dumbest thing MS had ever done. As someone who went through the pain of WinME, that's saying a lot. But I've gotten used to it. Still spend almost all my time in the desktop, but I've grown to like the metro apps for things like easy access for my kids. I still think MS made a mistake by not at least making a full-desktop-mode option, but I can live with Metro and find it beneficial in some ways. I certainly haven'y been hampered by it at all.