When you decide on a project, what are the items you need in your basket?
5). Stitch counters
6). Scratch pad / pencil
Now, find a comfortable spot to sit with good lighting.
Be sure you understand the pattern. Read through the pattern a few times. If there are sections that are unclear, work through them before you tie that section into the full pattern. I have a hard time understanding other peoples' patterns, so I reconstruct the pattern in my own language. Looks like chicken scratch to most, but keeps me on track with where I am in the project. Most patterns are written in a paragraph style, however, I break it down to:
Row 1). knit + / / / / / /
Row 2). k1yok2tog / / / / / /
Row 3). knit - / / / / / /
Row 4). knit / / / / / /
As I knit Row #1 I check it off on my scratch pad, Row #2 the same..........and so on until the end. Setting up a pad for this purpose can take some time when you first start a project, but can be well worth it. I prefer a side, spiral bound, small note book. I'll label the project at the top of the page. On one side of the page I write the pattern per row, then rule off the rest of the page for my check marks. It's rare to find a pattern that's different every row and is not repetitive, so I only need to write the pattern a few times.
Every time I knit, I finish the row. That may be all I have time for, is one row, so with this system, every time I sit down, I know exactly where I am in the pattern. If a row is an increase row, then I add a + sign, a decrease row, a - sign. (see example above).
Simple, and easy to read at a glance. If you've been having a hard time following patterns, try this method.