I read, but do not always follow the directions on the box, the can, the package, etc. If you're a cook, you know the obvious reason why not to follow them. If you're a painter, then you better follow them, if for no other reason to save time. What about software?
I stumbled across this old Joel Spolsky checklist
for building better software back in 2000 on my HD. If you haven't read it, it might save you a lot of time.
01. Do you use source control?
02. Can you make a build in one step?
03. Do you make daily builds?
04. Do you have a bug database?
05. Do you fix bugs before writing new code?
06. Do you have an up-to-date schedule?
07. Do you have a spec?
08. Do programmers have quiet working conditions?
09. Do you use the best tools money can buy?
10. Do you have testers?
11. Do new candidates write code during their interview?
12. Do you do hallway usability testing?
* Thanks thrown to Jeff Atwood at Coding Horror
for reminding me what helped me start my own little great software list.