The one thing that I never used to do, was to make a plan prior to editing a picture. That is not strictly true.
I did. I used to write the plan into a diary and I was diligent about this for all of about 6 edits. After this, it became very tedious and I stopped.
While doing landscapes, I still don’t make a plan, to be honest. I should start this, for all the general edits I want to do. However, the reason why it won’t be anything more than that, is that the final image that I want to achieve starts to develop in my mind as I go along the editing process. this is when I decide, along the way, how realistic or artistic I want it to be.
However, for all commercial or retouching work, I do now start with a plan.
The technique I picked up by watching Aaron Nace, founder of http://www.phlearn.com, is simplicity in itself.
You start by creating a blank layer on top of the original. Then, with your brush tool, write, indicate all the edits you need to do. Develop your own code, else you will end up with a bunch of squiggles that is impossible to decipher.
Once this is done, switch off the visibility of this layer, and start your work. This layer can be switched on and off at will, to track your progress.
It also obviates the need for scribbling on bits of paper!
And, if you want to learn Photoshop, visit http://www.phlearn.com
They don’t pay me!