Well, this is my experience, and it may or may not reflect that of others.
So, when I started off with this business all those many long months ago in July/August of 2014, I was using a little 60mm Meade refractor with it's glorious .965" eyepieces on a shaky alt/az tripod. I didn't manage a whole lot with this scope, but it was what I had and I didn't know any better. It wasn't too long before I went to the internet to seek guidance, and quickly stumbled across this forum. Trying to squeeze the most juice out of this little scope, my very first post and question here was to ask about barlows for this machine to improve the view.
The forum said "don't bother" because that scope can't handle it. The forum said you need to get a better piece of hardware. Binoculars were mentioned frequently. Get Stellarium, the forum said. You know what, the forum was right on all counts.
So I got my binoculars and I downloaded Stellarium and I had clouds for days of course. During this cloudy time, I perused and I studied Stellarium, and I became electronically familiar with the summertime constellations. I did this a lot. When I engage in a hobby, I don't goof around. If you're gonna be a bear, be a grizzly.
With my nice 10x50 binos and Stellarium on my laptop in night vision mode, every clear evening that I had I'd be outside, lying on my back in my yard, or sitting in a lawn chair, scanning the skies. I could easily identify the summer constellations because of the time spent studying Stellarium and my planisphere (this one: The Night Sky 30°-40° (Large; North Latitude) Also, I did a lot of reading. Fortunately my local library had the books "Nightwatch" and "The Backyard Astronomer's Guide". These were excellent resources for me.
And I read about Charles Messier and his catalog of not-comets. I've always had a fascination with other galaxies and I wanted to see them. I'd read that Andromeda (M31) was in optimal viewing position during the northern hemisphere autumn and early winter. I read where a lot of inexperienced folks were having trouble finding it and it was tough to nail down. That all sounded intimidating. It was still summer though, and Perseus and Andromeda (the constellation) were still low in the east, but Scorpius and Sagittarius, and Serpens and Scutum, and Ophiuchus and Hercules, and Cygnus and Lyra, and Vulpecula and Sagitta, and many others were hanging around with their share of Messier objects available in my binoculars.
Well, this Messier catalog has a lot of stuff in it, and it will last me a good few years of hunting to get all 110 of these objects observed. Might as well get started. I had no clue about visual magnitude and surface brightness, but I wanted to see something. I wanted a globular cluster. M22 in Sagittarius. Let's have go at that, I says to myself last summer.
Messier 22 - Globular Cluster in Sagittarius - Looking at Stellarium, I noticed that the bulk of Sagittarius resembled a tea pot, with the spout pointing to the right, above my southern horizon. I knew that M22 was to the left of the peak star of the teapot. I could easily spot this star, Kaus Borealis, naked eye. So I centered that star in my binos, and moved left. And left, and left. Nothing. Try again. Nothing. Dang it. I finally thought, well, I can see some other stars there, so lets follow along these, like a road map, until I can get to M22's position. Center Kaus Borealis. Ok. Move over to that next brighter star. Ok. There should be 3 there, like an upside down triangle. Ok got it. Move a bit to the left. Ok. Do you see the glob? Why yes, yes I do. Whoo hoo! My first glob!
I think I did this over and over that night, and I think I hustled everyone out of the house to show them, unaware of the difficulty of telling others where to locate something. Haha. My son spotted it naked eye and made me jealous.
So on and on I went, looking at stars in Stellarium, and looking at stars in my binoculars, and following little pathways I could see through the binos. Find the star in the sky, look down at Stellarium for the next one. Relocate my first star in the binos and move to the next one. Back to Stellarium. Back up with my binos to my first star and follow my path again. Over and over and over. Then I'd reach my target and check that one off my list.
Key here: Over and over and over. Star hopping with binoculars is tough. Unlike a scope where you nudge to the next star and the scope stays there, with binoculars you have to start at the head of the trail and work your way back every time you look away. Every stinking time.
Result: I got really good at it. In addition to over and over and over, there is also hours and hours and hours. I got a bit tired of lying on the hard concrete of my drive way, and the grass was starting to become wet with dew. I went to Wal-Mart and got a nice inflatable pool lounger with arms. I'd flop that down in the grass and lay on it. Put my laptop on my lap, and start digging into the sky. This way, I found 46 Messier objects (the brighter stuff that I could find in my binos). A lot of these, no matter how I studied and star hopped, I simply could not see. Also, I didn't get a lot of detail with these objects, but I could see them. Over and over and hours and hours.
These constellations are burned into my brain. I can see them when I close my eyes. I know them like the back roads of home.
I had some success, and I had a lot of failure. I needed a scope with some aperture. I studied and I read. I poured over this forum and Cloudy Nights. I wanted a dob. I wanted a nice 4.5 inch one, because that would be the one that would be the most palatable to my wife, expense-wise. She looked at them, and wondered why I didn't go with the 6 or 8 inch. Huh? Ok, how about the 8? I ended up with the 12". She's a good wife.
So blah, blah, blah, got my dob and became adjusted to the backwards and upside down view and how to star hop with it. I had new constellations to learn and new Messier objects to track down. And I did it.
All my rambling here gets me to this point. To locate a particular object, find a bright named star that is easily naked eye visible as your starting point. I start with my binos and do a quick familiarization of the area in my head. Go to your favorite star atlas (I have Interstellarum and the Sky & Telescope Pocket Sky Atlas) or Stellarium and identify the next star from the bright one toward your intended target. Move the scope to that star. Find the next one. And so on and so forth until you get to your target.
Will you get it the first time? Maybe. Probably not. Start all over again and work your down back along that trail. Do it again. Do it again. Success! Make notes and write down your path. Re-observe this target the next time out by following your trail.
Sometimes you are trying to find something that doesn't have any guide stars around it. These take a jumping off the cliff approach and you have to leap off a ledge and hope you run into something. Watch for asterisms, or a particular arrangement of stars, such as a wavy line, or three stars forming a triangle, or a trapezoid, something that you can match up with the atlas or Stellarium. This helps to keep you on track.
And most importantly, don't be afraid of star hopping. It just takes practice and practice. The more you do it, the better you get and the easier it becomes. I'm not as fast as a goto scope, usually, but sometimes I'm faster.
I'm not afraid of it. I've had a whole lot of success, and with each success you build confidence and you just grab the scope and go to it. Sometimes you get your butt kicked and get frustrated. All part of the game.
I like star hopping. It's part of the fun to me. I enjoy the hunt. I know this isn't everyone's cup of tea. Other folks would rather spend the time actually looking at the target and enjoying it and that's awesome too! These are all facets of the enjoyment of the hobby.
If anyone has a specific target in mind, let me know and I'll lay out my pathway to it. I've got most of them (that I've observed) in my notes and will be happy to share.
Bottom line is, spend the time at the scope, spend the time becoming acquainted with your target and your constellation. And just do it. You didn't learn to ride a bike on the first try, but once you got it down, you stopped falling off.