I have always preferred the methodical approach advocated by Adams and many others:

1. Do all tests, work prints etc. at the final enlargement size, on the paper you will be using
2. Try to see if you can accomplish the print with a single filter before adding split/multiple grades

1. Whatever filter you think might be right, go at least a grade lower
2. Make a first test strip that gives you useful information about important areas of the image, including light midtones (where most VC papers are speed matched). Make sure the test print goes from obviously too dark to obviously too light
3. Make more test prints if required with finer intervals
4. Choose your exposure time, and make a straight print, still at the low contrast
5. Evaluate the highlights, midtones and total contrast. If blacks are not black enough, and/or local contrast is too weak overall, increase filter grade
6. Make a new straight print (note you may have to alter exposure a little when you change grades)
7. Repeat until overall contrast looks good
8. Evaluate individual parts of the image which are too dark or too light. These are areas which need burning and dodging. There are various ways to figure out how much to burn and dodge (puzzle piece approach, etc.)
9. Make successive work prints refining the local adjustments (burning/dodging) as you go