Besides telling me how to make spaghetti, Maggie gave me a few pointers that day I've never forgotten. She said she always spread a sheet of newspaper on the counter and got out all the ingredients before she started cooking. Since I don't subscribe to a newspaper, I have to skip that step. But that day, years ago, I spread out the paper, gathered all the ingredients and equipment, then proceeded to do all my peeling and chopping with the newspaper catching all the mess. As the sauce simmered and the pasta water boiled, clean-up was a snap. It took mere seconds to fold up the newspaper and toss it.
Of course, I didn't know it was called mise en place until years later. But it's a wonderful concept! If you've ever just jumped right into making something and then had to turn off the stove and run out to the store for a missing ingredient, you can appreciate the efficiency of having everything in place ahead of time.