I am an amateur and my darkroom times are all over the place because I don't do it that often and when I do I am not generally time constrained.
One tool that has helped me immensely is the Zonemaster II. I actually found it to be quite handy for analyzing my negatives and adjusting my EI/developing. It helps me to zero in on a contrast grade quickly and get either a dead on exposure or close enough that one test strip in a key area is all you really need. The problem I have with the Zonemaster is you need to be able to know where you want different values of the negative to fall on the grayscale. When I was adjusting my EI/developing what I did was shoot a scene that contained known values. So I put some Caucasian skin in there. I put some pure white with texture and some black with texture. I used cloth for my black and white with texture. I put the black cloth in a shadow and the white in direct sunlight. So I had two almost idiot proof values. I also had the Caucasian skin tone so I could see how something familiar and important would be rendered in the print.
If you have a low contrast scene that doesn't contain the full spectrum then it's a little trickier. Anyway read up on the device and see if it will help you. There is also a thing called the Stopclock Pro that is supposed to help with making test strips. It is also nice because it works in tandem with the Zonemaster II and the values from the Zonemaster II (contrast, exposure time) are transferred directly to the Stopclock Pro. My wallet is a little thin as of late so I only got the Zonemaster II. The Zonemaster II cost more than my entire darkroom :( But it was worth it. I can robotically crank out a decent print in minutes with no test strip.