For the 5x5 puzzles...
... I quickly dispatch, "the five people are..." clue. If you do it first, it's easy to see you got all nine Xs on the grid. Then I go after the definite clues, "Sandy is the guitarist." Next I go after the conditional clues, "Of Larry and the geologist, one arrived at 3:00 pm and the other at 6:30 pm." After doing the definite clues, the conditional ones usually follow. Finally, I re-examine, "the five people are..." to see what else I can coax out of the statement.