Aggie,
Your procedure makes a lot of sense. I think that what works for anyone is the proper thing to do. I experience the sense of the proper amount of light visible on the easel, just as you do. I probably would benefit from cutting down 8X10 sheets into strips. I just got used to doing complete sheets for my test strips. I have a black and white densitometer and unless I use it for unsharp mask densities, it sits on the shelf for months.

David,
My procedure follows:
I will usually make a decision early in the printing whether I will use split grade printing or whether I will use single grade printing. More and more of the time I decide to do split grade printing. When I do split grade printing, I will start with a Grade 1 filtration on my enlarger and do a test strip exposure for my upper value value. I will normally give at least a 12 second initial base exposure followed by test strips of 1 1/2 seconds. I try to get an exposure that lies about mid point in the test strips. If it doesn't then I do another test strip. The reason is that the percentage that 1 1/2 seconds represents in relation to 18 seconds, for instance, is quite another percentage when it is compared to 12 seconds. In other words, the margin of error decreases as the total time is increased. I dry this print in the microwave to determine the actual value when drydown is allowed for. Drydown effects all values on a print, but it really is apparent in the upper values.

Once I determine the upper value exposure, I will then do an initial exposure at the upper value time followed by a low value test strip at Grade 5 filtration. I will normally give a 5 second base exposure followed by test strips of 1.5 seconds. Once again, I try for an exposure that lies about half way through the test strips. From this I determine my low value exposure time.

My third test is the high value exposure and filtration followed by my low value exposure and filtration on the same sheet of paper. I process this print and from this I then determine my areas of burning and dodging and whether these must be addressed in the first or second exposure. I refer back to my highlight and shadow test strips to determine an approximate amount of time for burning and dodging.

I then make a final print that is includes all of the times above. I process this, wash it, and allow it to dry.

Sometimes I will make a further determination of whether the print would benefit from either unsharp or sharp masking of the negative. I determine what masking would accomplish. That decision comes after I have made a print, as described above, and allowed it to rest for a couple of days to as much as a week, to see whether I come back to it, how I continue to feel about it, whether my initial impression remains the same. My initial impression is sometimes the one that I stay with. Sometimes I feel quite differently after a period of time.