Some of the techniques I use when starting a project and how I set up my channels.
I like to have some of my more complex basic channel comps in working channels instead of having them live in the actual diffuse or what ever channel you are working in. Like if you would have a real GPU unfriendly set of layers you know you want to use as a base and paint on top of them. I like to store these channels live in the utility channel but duplicate and bake them into my working channels. That way of i need to change anything I go back to my utility channel and alter the original and substitute the baked duplicate in the working channel later.
In the video below i show some of that workflow.