That’s the quandary to ponder an hour each day. When I begin on something like this, you’d think I’d use a systematic approach but no, I stab at the topic.
Why not use a “proper” approach? Under such an approach, I might go to Wikipedia or a dictionary, or I might Google looking for a reference work or textbook. In other words, find the definitive masterpiece tackling the topic. I’d then examine its bibliography and select a dozen books that address the topics I’m interested in exploring. I’d buy them and get to taking notes. Great, yes?
No, not great, at least for me. It seems far too daunting to tackle a big reading list. Instead, I seize a book I have or have glanced at or have heard about, and just zip through it. If it’s a waste of time, I try something else. If it adds something, I rather haphazardly pick one of the references in the book and repeat the process. In other words, I “have a go” and flail away. In my experience, what then happens is that my brain starts ordering my activities. Over time, some kind of logic of data collection or of initial thinking reveals itself. Over time, I become more organized. Over time, order emerges from chaos.
Does this method waste time? You’d think so but no, again in my experience, this process is pretty efficient. It gets me into the meat of the subject fast, it produces data fast, it gets my thinking up fast.
Anyway, that’s my methodology and I’m sticking by it.