I spend a lot of timing reading (researching) whatever it is I am working on at the time. I find that independent research provides me a means of almost completely emerging myself into the subject matter. I am not looking to this research for validation, more an initial understanding of the generally accepted concepts, theories, arguments, pitfalls etc. More importantly, this endeavour gives me the opportunity to really spend time in the subject. Somewhere along the process my focus shifts from research and comprehension to the development of my plan and the defining of my ideas on the subject. This activity quickly leads to activities beyond my thoughts. For instance, at this stage I may begin to draft documents, or begin to factor the regulations associated with the subject (if its business related).
It seems most efficient for me to allow myself to begin to let go of the need to recall the information gathered. I tend to simply accept that I know it, that I recall it, and that I can implement it. This perception prevents the need for redundancy. It also gives me a certainty of understanding that allows me to move further and further into the tangible use of whatever it is I am attempting to accomplish.
I guess I would say that you can be more effective and efficient with your time by simply permitting yourself to assume a level of proficiency, and from that mental position, allow your actions to flow towards your goal. If you hit a road block, back up and fix it. Then flow again.
I do stay away from outside influences while I am pursuing a new or extended endeavour. I am generally seeking a pure, independent understanding that I assume will result in an original activity. Therefore it is necessary for me to ensure that third party ideas and biases are avoided. But that’s just what I do.