Use colored pencils to mark my black & white cross-stitch charts. By coloring the chart to match the suggested embroidery floss color, the chart is much easier to follow.
Try using a sofa or throw pillow as a laptray when stitching. Your small project pieces will cling to the pillow's fabric top, and the corners work as handy pin cushions! The pillow also brings the work closer to your eyes, causing less eyestrain.
If you give your needle a quick twist counterclockwise before taking the next needleful of stitches, the thread won't knot and snarl.