What We Can Learn From the French
The French ... goodness gracious, the French .... have a term called Mise En Place. It is pronounced "Meez On Ploss." Essentially, it is a frenchified, wussified version of the good old phrase, Be Prepared. Sure, it may be the motto of the Boy Scouts, but I think that as men we can really appreciate the sentiment. If you are an engineer or technical type of person, then the logic of being prepared is nothing new to you.
Mise en Place means "everything in it's place." It's a term that French chefs use for getting the all the ingredients ready that you need for the dish you are going to make BEFORE you begin making it. At least that is the definition that I am fiding around the internet.
To me, being prepared stretches beyond ingredients to include cookware. It means setting out all of your ingredients and measuring them into the apprortiate bowls, cups, or other containers. It means setting out all the pots, pans, trays, bowls, and utensils that you will need.
Get everything ready to go, set it out in a logical manner.
As I was writing this, TheWife called to ask where the crepe maker was. I told her it was in the pantry, but she couldn't find it. After some bickering, I discovered that she had made the batter and had it all ready to go, and ONLY THEN did she decide to go find the crepe maker.
She did not have her Mise together.
If you are cooking from a recipe, take a few minutes to read it first. Read the whole thing from the ingredients all the way to the end of the steps. If the ingredients list says "chicken breasts trimmed of fat" then you know to get out a sharp knife and a cutting board.
You will save yourself a lot of trouble if you just get everything together and Be Prepared. Here is a good perspective on the Mise by The Reluctant Gourmet.