You can lessen your frustration and speed up your pick-up time if you don't just "let 'er rip." Here are a few pointers, gleaned from my Frequent Ripper Mileage:
1. Be gentle. Filaments of knitted yarn can cling like burrs. Don't just yank; rather, coax the stitches apart. Keep a blunt-tipped needle handy to help you separate those tenacious little fibers that don't want to let go.
2. Stop short. Quit ripping one full row short of where you need to end up.
3. Stay slick. For picking up stitches, choose an aluminum needle rather than bamboo. They'll slide on easier.
4. Size down. Your pick-up needle should be at least one full size smaller (in gauge) than the needle you used for the work. You can size back up when you're ready to begin re-knitting.
5. Follow closely. When you're ready to pick up your stitches, gently undo each stitch on that final row, picking up each released stitch as you go. This will prevent yarn-overs, increases, and decreases from getting lost in the general rip-fest.