When you’ve been spending countless hours staring at a breadboard, a momentary step away from the task leads to some fruitful observations.
The first thing you notice is that repetitive work sucks away time and motivation. A “been there, done that” mentality should always be assumed by the electronics designer. Let the novelty wear off quick, so that you’re available to find better ways and improve the quality of your final design. A cure that I have found for this problem is to build test circuits that can quickly be inserted into, and adjusted for, prototype circuit. I make sure that the power supply is flexible and the inputs/outputs are within safe operating ranges.
A 555 astable timer is a great circuit for just this purpose. I suggest building one with alligator clips for the timing capacitor so that frequency ranges can be swapped in, and leads connecting the output & GND should also be made available.
Build an adjustable power supply. Use the LM317 and a simple setup circuit to get started!
Have input/output jacks on the board for quick testing!
Clamp down a 9V Battery for portability. Radioshack sells a simple 9V Battery Holder. One of the worst things you can do when experimenting with a breadboard is to have loose components. Seek to optimize your breadboard work area so your design work is efficient and leads to a streamlined workflow.