There have been way too many games that came out recently, and I couldn't possibly talk about everything that I've been playing all at once. I have also picked up a couple of new cubes, and got another as a late Christmas gift. On top of that, I recently found out that I missed a cube competition less than an hour from my house - I didn't find out about it until the Monday after.
So, what do you do when everything is crazy? The same thing you do with a scrambled cube - have a plan. However, we're going to talk about planning only in the context of cubing here - I will just have to work on my plan to type more blog posts behind the scenes.
Clearly a plan is not enough by itself, because there are other parts to be considered during the actual execution. Practice is important, and so is a good handle on theory, and so is learning to deal with mistakes, setbacks, and things that just plain don't go your way. But, we have to start somewhere, and that usually starts with a plan.
In speed cubing, you get 15 seconds of inspection time. That's time you basically get for free that doesn't count as part of your solve time unless you're doing a blindfold event. That's the time to make a plan. For a fast solver it could make the difference of a second or two, which could make the difference between making the cut or not. For me, as a relatively slow solver, a good inspection makes the difference between a 30 second solve and a 40 second solve. Even if you're just starting and you're averaging around a minute or two, a good inspection could still make a ten to fifteen second difference in your time. What are you looking for in the inspection?
For Beginner's Method solvers, you're looking for the first four edges, and a corner or two. For CFOP (Cross, First two layers, Orientation, Permutation) solvers, you're looking for the first four edges, and one or two corner-edge pairs for F2L. For Roux, you're looking for the first five pieces on the L face. For me, as a corners first solver, I'm looking for the first four corners and trying to figure out where the fifth corner is going to fit into the other layer, or if the first four corners go really easy then I'm looking for an edge piece or two in the first layer.
Statistically, most of you are using something that's like either the Beginner's Method or CFOP, so let's talk more about those. During inspection, you should have those first four edges of the first layer figured out either way. Have you figured out something that's around eight turns and leaves the cube in the right location for the next part? Do some practice scrambles and see if you can consistently work out a 7-8 move solution to the first four edges. Ultimately, you should be working towards having the first four edges on the D layer when you're done, allowing you to work on the next part with the best visibility of the remaining edges.
That's enough for now, so go practice making a plan. (Or is that planning to practice?)