I've improved a lot lately. I used to use a spreadsheet and enter all the options there first before starting the puzzle. Once I would start, I would do the 5 people clue so I would have one item in each of five rows. The autofill feature in the spreadsheet made typing the names quicker. Then I would go back and start filling in the grid with all the clues. When done with that, I'd go back and fill in the spreadsheet some more. There were some things that I could see easier by looking there instead of the grid.
Eventually, I got to the point where now I usually only enter the first 5 person clue into the spreadsheet and don't need to revisit it unless I get stuck. So, now I am regularly scoring over 400 points a puzzle, and even got a high score on one.
Recently I came across a puzzle that kind of threw me off because it didn't have the 5 person clue. I've also come across one recently that either didn't have a First Name category, or it was in the third column instead of the first.