All meals aren't created equal, but they do have some things in common. They use ingredients, they require some cleanup and they usually need to be stored somewhere. To get the job done faster and better, anticipate the steps of your cooking process and have a handle on what you'll need and when you'll need it. If you're making cookies, pull out the measuring cups and spoons, sugar, flour, flavoring, bowl and other utensils before you begin. That's what the extra counter space is for. As you move from step to step, pull the tools and ingredients you'll need. As you use ingredients, put them back in the cupboard. When you get a utensil dirty, put it in the sink and rinse it out right away. This will make it easier to clean later. If you have a little extra time, wash or stow dirty items in the dishwasher.
Keep the recipe handy on the counter at all times. Working this way will alert you to any potential problems, like a missing ingredient, and you'll start to develop a rhythm. Less fumbling, backtracking and hunting for things means time saved and better meals.