Match the size of the pan to to your stovetop heating element; more heat will get to the pan and less will be lost to the surrounding air. A 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner will waste over 40% of the energy used.
It seems that for some jobs, you need three hands to get it done. Your pliers can lend you that extra hand. Use the pliers to grip the wire or small piece you need to have held. Then wrap a rubber band around the handles to maintain the grip while you complete the work.