The Kitchen Bench Syndrome

Once while watching Masterchef Australia, I noted the emphasis on keeping the bench clean while recreating complex recipes. It was mentioned that our work-station reflected our mind space and having it cluttered and messy greatly affects our productivity.

At the time, I couldn’t realize the importance of this principle, but over time, this learning made better sense to me and has now become a practice I religiously follow.

Once while baking a chocolate sponge cake, I had the recipe before my eyes, all ingredients laid out, all tools, bake-ware prepared and the oven set to preheating. One look at the kitchen bench would give the onlooker an idea that a major experiment was on its way. Perhaps a recipe being invented that the human race was yet to introduce to its taste buds. Every possible baking tool was on the kitchen counter besides the usual staples and much more.

Staying focused in a cluttered kitchen like this is a herculean task

Soon enough there was flour everywhere, egg shells, butter paper strips, grains of sugar and of course cocoa powder and baking powder too added to the mess painting the bench in shades of white and brown.

As I put my cake to bake in the oven, I darted out of the kitchen, relieved that all was done. Leaving the messy kitchen bench to be dealt with later. It was only later that I realized that had I cleaned the kitchen bench right away, I would have noted having missed on adding the Vanilla extract (a key ingredient to mask the odor of the eggs added) to my cake, a key ingredient in this simple 6 ingredient recipe.

Minutes ticked away and though I could smell something cooking, there was no sign of the heartwarming aroma of the vanilla essence in the air. Still, no alarm bells rang in my head. At the specified time, when I took the cake out of the oven, I still couldn’t smell anything I usually do.

As I set the cake to cool down and started cleaning up the bench, I realized the blunder I had committed but it was too late to correct it anyway.That was the day, my life changed.

Food, especially baking is very close to my heart. Stuffing up a well-rehearsed recipe didn’t go down well with me and the ruined cake haunted me for a very long time.


From that moment (a few years ago) on I make it a point to clear up as soon as I am done with a task. Be it the kitchen bench or my writing desk. I strive to keep it as less cluttered as I can make it.

Though I didn’t notice any significant results right away, but in the long run my productivity has improved manifolds. My mind feels clearer and better focused and I have been able to recreate recipes with over 35 ingredients with inspiring results every single time. And stress fails to get the better of me because I feel in better control all the time.

While being organised is the key, the impact of keeping the workstation clutter-free represents a clear mind space that is open to relaxed, happier outlook, helping you see through the problem right away and is definitely provides a needed push to perform better free from distraction.

What is the usual state of your kitchen bench/ workstation?

15 thoughts on “The Kitchen Bench Syndrome

  1. I am a non-clutter person. I can’t focus if the kitchen is messy or if my work station is messy. But strangely, I can be OK with my wardrobe being messy (probably because I’m not the dress-up kind, I just grab the first thing my eyes fall on and wear that off). But, if I do see mess and begin cleaning, no amount of sleep, hunger or anything else can stop me before I’m done.


    1. I have evolved over the years to be extra-particular about keeping the kitchen bench clean more than before with each passing year. Maybe cause of the impact of the many masterchef series (non-Indian) I watch, I have picked up the habit of cleaning the bench every now and then to stay organised. I am with you in the wardrobe cleaning habit and my reason is also the same as yours.
      So glad you are so much like me. Yay!

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  2. I try simultaneously clearing the bench so that I do not have to revisit the kitchen after the cooking completes and I can happily indulge in the food. 🙂


  3. I do have cluttered kitchen once in a while but it is mostly my vessels all around the counter.. I put back the spices, ingredients at their designated place as soon as I am done with them.. And I have this habit of washing my hands very often while cooking..The sense of calmness my mind gets when kitchen is clean is unimaginable..


    1. I too wash my hands often and yes, with time I too have learnt to put away the pots, pans and the ingredients as soon as I am done using them. The sense or order is immensely calming 🙂


  4. I have always been telling people the same thing when they ask me about what they think is my OCD. 😉 I function best when everything around me is tidy and in order. Makes a lot of sense to me. 🙂


    1. Same here Swaram. I don’t think I have an OCD for cleanliness (though am confident I had it earlier)but in order and tidiness lies my peace and productivity for sure 🙂


  5. I am surprisingly very well organized in the kitchen! My counter is clean and clear with appliances tucked away nicely in cabinets and in corners. I keep putting things away as I am done. I even wash up while I am cooking so I don’t see a full sink and stress out. This helps me when I sign up of elaborate recipes like Momos and Lasagna.


  6. Mine is not messy at all. I am not that great organizer but I tidy up bench while I am cooking. Once cooking is done we feel I like after eating will clean, then after eating we will feel lazy so I tidy up while cooking.


  7. I try to clear as I go especially putting things back or throwing packets away with a final clean up in the end because I need to be clutter free to function.


    1. Same here Boiling. And learning to put the lessons learnt in the kitchen to practice everywhere in life has helped improve my productivity significantly.


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