If you want to do something good and methodical, then storyboard it.
If you want to be go professional status with your preparation do an exposure sheet.
Until I can make more story board and exposure sheet copies I've just been straight ahead animating, but for stuff like effects and mouth cycles it's kind straight ahead no matter what.
While I don't recommend it, my highest viewed animation was storyboarded on lined spiral notebook paper for some of the more complicated action shots. I did the storyboard because what I was attempting was genuinely hard to go at with "no compass" if you catch my drift.