I can't tell you what's revolutionary for you. Maybe it's a new mascara (?), a new route to work, a book on string theory. I have no idea. But one thing has been revolutionary for me.
It's the rimmed sheet pan.
And it's not cause I'm cooking full meals on it. (Though sometimes I do.)
It's cause they have raised sides and four walls and their very design, their very nature, tricks my brain into feeling calm, organized, and contained.
That containment's important.
Whatever chaos crashes in my head, whatever deadlines loom, whatever stresses snicker, and smirk, and jockey for position, the sight of that sheet pan in the corner of my kitchen gives me a sense of serenity and calm.
As soon as I know what I'm making for dinner at night -- sometimes I know this in the morning, sometimes 10 minutes before I start cooking -- I pull out all the dry ingredients I'll need. We're talking onions or garlic, pasta or rice, beans, salt, nuts, vinegar. All the nonperishable food that will go into whatever I'm making comes out of its home and finds a spot right on that baking sheet. I pull down a second sheet if I have to.
Next, my tools: any tool that dish will require. Like you (perhaps?), I've got a tool drawer that's a reflection of, well, me: not pristine, but functional. Not perfect, but practical. So unearthing the carrot peeler, the microplane, the fish tweezers (I always lose those), the offset spatula... this takes time, and when I've got sauce simmering or onions sauteeing or a roast roasting and I need a tool quickly, I don't need to screw around in that drawer trying to find the meat thermometer. Because I already thought it through. I already took it out.
Then, pots and pans.
My pots and pans -- separated from their lids, nestled on top of / in stacks of / underneath / wedged between one another -- all live in two slide-out drawers they call home. The one I need is always, without exception, the one at the bottom of the heap, the one I can only get by removing 3, 4, 5 other pans from the drawer. Getting the right pan during food prep is a chore. It results in dropped lids and a string of blue words.
Getting it a few hours, even a few minutes before I cook? Problem solved.
Finally, a post-it. A quick morning scribble of which fresh ingredients I'll need from the fridge allows me to grab them later on autopilot, no thinking required.
Look, I didn't make up the idea of mise en place. And this is a far cry from a true mise en place anyway. I'm hardly doing all my slicing and dicing ahead of time or setting my prepped ingredients out in pretty little bowls. I'm just getting partway there. I'm setting myself up for success.
And success, it turns out, tastes really, really good.