An Organized Workspace
After you pick a recipe, but before you start baking your cake, you should make sure you have an organized workspace. This means your kitchen counters should be clear of everything except the tools you'll need for the job. You're almost certainly going to need a sifter, a whisk, a large mixing bowl, a spatula and both dry and liquid measuring cups.
Getting out these items before you begin will save you time when baking your cake, especially if you find that your whisk is missing or that your toddler has been using your mixing bowls as a makeshift drum set. It's always better to find (and wash) these items before you start than to be in the middle of the process and have to pillage the kitchen -- or even the rest of the house -- to find your absconded cooking tools.