here is the golden rule:
1) always see for the dasa-apahara first. (i prefer the simplest- vimsottari)
2) look for the transits from moon, lagna and sun.
3) look at the ashtakavarga too.
most astrologers give max priority to guru(jupiter) and sani(saturn) in transit.
i think the no 1 priority should be given for lagnadhipa or the lord of the ascendant.
no 2 should be moon sign and its dispositor.(the lord of the moon sign posited in which rasi and house),
then the sun and then only saturn and jupiter and other planets.
when a particular topic is being thought, look at the pertaining house lord and the signifactor(karaka) too.
when jupiter is in 2, 5, 7, 9 and 11 max benefits can be expected if there is no vedham for it.
when you consider a 30 year circle of sani, 7 1/2 yrs go as ezhara sani, 2 1/2 yrs as ashtama sani, 10 years as kantaka sani(in 1, 4, 7 and 10th houses)...so effectively we get hardly 10 years with sani in relatively good position.
the point i am trying to make is that, its better that a layman doesn't look at transits.
when saturn comes ok, guru goes wrong or may be its the kuja.
it needs a competent astrologer to read the cumulative effect of these planets.
never make your decisions after reading the year/month/week ahead columns.