If you're trying to retain the look and line breaks of the Word file why are you importing into InDesign?
InDesign produces much superior typography to Word, but you can't force it match the Word appearance.
Well, Steve, it happens all the time that people ask me to recreate large Word docs in InDesign. Some of my less technically-apt customers use terms like "convert" or "open" or "import" but I always respond with the word "recreate." Because that is what you have to do, or rather what I have to do.
Word's image-placement-and-flow logic differs radically from InDesign's, so if you have images coming in with your Word doc they will never, ever behave in InDesign as they did in Word. If it looks "messy" consider yourself lucky - sometimes artifacts of Word formatting actually induce corruption in InDesigin files, when the Word doc is heavily designed.
In your shoes, Molly, my strategy is to:
1) Make an empty InDesign template with paragraph and character styles, and master pages that correspond to the sections in the Word document as far as margins and columns go;
2) Save the Word file as .docx, rename .docx to .zip, unzip, navigate to the \word\media folder and extract all images,
3) Post-process all images as necessary in Photoshop if Word image-filters were used,
4) Remove all images and section breaks from original Word file,
5) Process text in original Word file so that there is sensible styling, and only then
6) Place Word file into InDesign with the "Import Options" button checked so I can use advanced style-mapping and cruft-removal tools
You may not need to go quite that far, but it may be necessary, depending on how much formatting/garbage there is in the Word file. If you make a master page, or more than one if necessary, then you can always (I think) control-shift-click objects to detach them from the master, if you need to make occasional exceptions. I can't remember the exact keystroke but that's the terminology as used in the Help files: detach from master page.
This process is only, as you say, "more efficient" if you expect to revise the document some day and want the process to be comparatively painless. If it's a one-off, you may be better off with a different strategy. I do the above because we're typically translating a given long Word doc into a few languages (or more), so having easy reflowability and lack of Word cruft pays off almost any amount of brute-force labor in preparation of the source InDesign document at the get-go.
Anyways, good luck!