If you're unsure about how fresh your yeast is, test it:
Mix 1 Tbsp sugar, 1 tsp yeast in 1 cup of lukewarm water. It should foam after 10 minutes if it's still good.
If you're using Active Dry Yeast (ADY), it will need to be proofed first in warm water (100-110F). Sugar is not necessary to activate the yeast.
Instant Dry Yeast (IDY) or Bread machine yeast doesn't need to be proofed.
It's best to be as consistent as possible, so I recommend using an instant read thermometer to make sure you're water is in the right temperature range. If you live in a place where temperature varies quite a bit from day to day or season to season, this could also affect how long your dough needs to rise.
Let your flour come to room temp before using it.