Katie:

It definitely helps to have routines for particular tasks - developing film, making contacts, doing initial proof prints.

That way you can go into the darkroom with specific goals, and most likely achieve those goals in the time available.

But you also need to go into the darkroom some times with a plan to "play". By that I mean go in without any particular result in mind - just an intention to explore, learn and hopefully create. In my mind, this is the best mindset to have when you are thinking that a final print is a possible result.

If you want to speed up the efficiency of that part of the process, I'd suggest some production printing, for the limited purpose of adding to the speed and efficiency of your technique.