This may be why I've been enjoying the switch to split filter printing .
The constant (invariant) exposure time between grades probably really only applies to the mid-tones.
Usually what I do is try to arrive at a contrast and exposure time that works well with those mid-tones.
Once I get those mid-tones coming out the way I want them, then and only then do I consider what burns or dodges I need to get the highlights and shadows where I want them. I may or may not be be adjusting the contrast filters for those burns and dodges.
For most negatives, the burns and dodges are fairly minor, and frequently don't require any contrast adjustment. For particularly difficult negatives, the printing process can be quite complex.
As you are new to this, I'd suggest starting out with some of the easier negatives. Look for even lighting (preferably somewhat diffused even lighting). As you gain experience, you can move to the tougher negatives, and not be as likely to get frustrated.
One thing to remember. While a nice long range from deepest black shadows to sparkling white highlights is always impressive in a print, it is rarely mandatory, and sometimes it isn't even good.
Good luck, and have fun!