Ben, you will find what works for you in time.
I do things a little bit differently, I lay my smoke wood on the bottom and then fill the ring until it overflows, pick the briquettes out of the space between ring and bowl and try to get them to stay put on the towering Jenga game of charcoal then, I put the barrel on and remove the door. I them light my propane torch and light the side near the door in one spot (about 2 minutes torch time) and close the door. Add the rack with protein and close it up. The hard part begins now…the waiting!
This is an adaptation of past member Enrico Brandizzi’s sidewinder Minion method and Harry Soo’s smoke media on the bottom, I have had very consistent results with this method but, it did take a little time to get the balancing act together. For a big brisket, I’ll fore it off the night before say 18:00 and I’ve found I might need to add a few fireplace shovels of charcoal about 06:00 for things to finish off.
I don’t wrap, spritz, poke or prod until temperature is getting close to desired finished range.
Resisting the urge to look and poke is a hard thing to get comfortable with but, the patience is it’s own reward. If you have questions, you can PM me and I’d be happy to get more specific about why I do what I do. I am a dyed in the wool lazy guy and try to get maximum result with least strain possible. The WSM does it’s job so, I can take credit for simply using the best equipment! Have fun.