I am not writing this post as an expert on Lightroom. In fact, I am writing in the hopes that some of you may be able to give me a few pointers.
I have been using Lightroom 4 for about eighteen months. I never got the hang of iPhoto and I have yet to advance to PhotoShop (I have an unhealthy fear of layers...), but I like the organizational system of Lightroom, and the basic editing tools are sufficient for my present photography needs.
In the meantime, however, I have managed to develop a nice workflow that suits my organizational needs, and I thought I might share that system here. I am always open to suggestions, however, to make this even more efficient, so please feel free to share.
I try to download my pictures after each event; it allows me to review the photos while the memory is still fresh in my mind, and it prevents a major backup that will demand hours of time rather than minutes. Within Lightroom my pictures are sorted first by year, then within each year I have a separate folder for each individual event. All event subfolders begin the same way, that is, the numerical value for the month, followed by the year, followed by a brief descriptive title. For example, the recent pictures of the Arboretum were uploaded to the subfolder: 09-2013 Arboretum within my 2013 folder.
Once I download the pictures into Lightroom, I do a quick review and immediately delete those that I do not want to keep. My criteria varies depending on the event, but I tend to weed out about half (mostly due to poor composition or focus, and/or if I have several of one shot I eliminate all but two). This takes very little time.
I then go through the remaining pictures and select those that I think are the best - the cream of the crop. Currently I use the flag system (white for "best" and black for "delete") although I know that some people prefer the five star rating system. While I have no set percentage that I deem as favorites, typically I find about 12-20 pictures that meet the criteria (and I typically find a few more to delete during this second pass through).
At this point I edit only those pictures that I flag as the best. My edits are fairly basic, mostly because I am not familiar with many of the advanced options. I crop the image, if needed. I adjust the white balance (this one feature is worth the cost of the program!) and often tweak the exposure and contrast. Occasionally I will play with the color adjustment options, but typically I stop here. Quick and Easy.
A new step that I recently added is to keyword these edited images. I must confess that I do not have the hang of keywording, and I fear I either add too many or too few. I do, however, see the value of this feature to either perform a search for a particular picture, or to assemble a photo compilation that spans several months/years. Unfortunately, I did not add this step to my workflow until just recently, so I am now faced with the laborious task of keywording photos of the past ten years. *sigh*
The final action is to post these edited images to a photo sharing website like Flickr (if interested, here is my photostream). Lightroom makes this simple and convenient because it is already linked to Flickr. I can create a new set within Lightroom, select the images that I wish to include, copy them to that set, and click "publish" Within a few minutes I can log into my Flickr account, rename the files to a more descriptive title (rather than IMG-0152), write a quick summary, and I am done.
Typically the entire process takes less than an hour and it suits my need for efficient organization.
Addendum: As I continue to catch up on the backlog of key wording, I have decided that at the end of each year I want to review these favorite photos and select the "best of the best" There are some that evoke such a positive response within me - mostly sentimental in nature - that I would like to have a way to easily access them. Using the rating system, I will only five star those favorites that I feel are truly the best... based on purely subjective reasons.
As I said in the beginning, however... if any of you have a modified workflow, I would love to hear your comments and suggestions.