When I first started designing, I would go right to designing, then play with layout and color and font as I go along. However, I noticed this always seem to take me way too long. Along the way, I've been starting a sketch on paper then choosing three colors, my font then I do a grid and begin a layout. Through my online class, I was informed of a great site to get inspired for your color themes:
This is a great alternative for all those color books. I have quite a few!
Let me know how it works for you. I'm excited to integrate this into my design process.