It's kind of a bitch.
I personally much prefer the desktop-type controls, except for switching. I know it is OK to use mirrors in that situation, but you do not have the field of vision you should have with a mirror. At least with side-mounted controls, you can sit facing the opposite side of the cab and look over your shoulder. I have run some CSX units that actually had a second speedometer mounted on the back wall (more useful for running long-hood forward than switching. Who uses a speedometer to switch?) I like to watch the ground to judge my speed.
Using the independent to hold the loco while it amps up will work, but is an awkward way to go about it. I once had a boss who told me, "Now when you are running a GE, you move the reverser, open the throttle, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and by then it should be just about ready to move."