Hi Hamish, and welcome to the forum. Don't worry too much about rules, just be sensible.
I'm trying to pin down your workflow. Do you know that regardless of what layer is selected, Ctrl clicking another layer's Eye icon will load it as a selection? And that selection should remain active while you click to select other layers? The same hold true of layer masks. If a layer's mask is active (it has the double outline) then Ctrl clicking that mask will load it as a selection regardless of what layer is selected.
You can do the same thing with work paths and channels, which is one of the reasons it is so useful to have multiple screens so that you have room to have all panels open.
Does that help at all, or am I missing the point?
Thanks for the prompt reply.
No I think you are mistaking "selection" as in a marquee for physically
Just to explain, say I'm on layer "A" painting a layer mask around an
image, if I go to another layer to do something else, when I return to
layer "A" instead of still being on the layer mask as I left it, photoshop
defaults to the image of that layer. So in effect doubling my work because
i have large files with lots of layers & don't want to have to select the
layer mask every time I return to the layer "A" I've just been working
on.....does that make sense?
How do you return to layer "A" ?
I assume by clicking on the layer in the layers panel, If that's the case why not click on the mask?