When querying genealogical databases, it’s not always necessary to keep track of what searches you conducted–particularly if the individual is easily found.
But when a family cannot be easily located in the 1860 census, instead of pounding away harder at the keyboard or swearing, keep a list of the searches you have conducted. Track the options you used. Track how you formulated wildcard searches. Track the nicknames and diminutives you searched for as well. Track the range for year of birth if that was one of the search parameters.
It’s impossible to troubleshoot your search process if the only place you keep tabs on what you are doing is in your head.