1. Go easy on the flour. Bread dough is always sticky when it's first been mixed so leave it for 10 mins before kneading. Don't throw in extra flour to make it less sticky - you'll end up with a heavy loaf.
2. Ignore the kneading myth. It's not true that you have to knead the dough for ages to 'develop the gluten'. Chefs have different ways of kneading so find one that works for you, but don't be fooled into thinking it has to be a long and boring process.
3. Using the recipes that come with your bread-making machine is absolutely fine, but you can change them a bit. For example, you could customise your flour, add different fruit or seeds or use milk (scalded and cooled), wine or beer (heated to remove alcohol) instead of water.
4. Go easy on the salt. Not just for your health but because too much salt also slows down the rising process.
For great results, follow this easy bread dough recipe.