There has been some good advice from many of the folks here so far. Much is essential to becoming more efficient at your position.
When I first started, that was my trouble too. My movements were erratic and I often fumbled through things so mistakes were commonplace. Confidence has a great deal to do with it as does your commitment to becoming better. There were many shifts I actually came in off the clock and observed what the A line was doing to accomplish their jobs.
Some of the things I observed really helped me. The next step was to apply them in my work. The first, and most important thing was to not be so much as "fast" but thorough. Years ago it was called time-in-motion and companies invested a ton of money to improve it.
This may sound corny but picture your movements on the line or in the kitchen as a dance with the food and your station as your partner.
You are the lead and get everything to flow the way you want. Both hands, arms, feet and legs are a fluid movement while you are cooking. When the left hand is reaching for something the right hand is working a pan, stirring or grabbing. You can choreograph your moves. The person in charge controls the presentation, taste and quality. As long as you provide what they are requiring in a clean, organized and safe manner, then how you do it is your style.
Something else that helped me was watching athletes on television visualizing their routine. Whether it was down a slope, in the water or on ice, if it involved a co-ordinated movement of the body, it made sense to see your movements before you made them. You know what ingredients to use when you prepare plates so have them available for you to grab at them without looking. Just stand at your station and visualize what movements you need to make in order to complete each item assigned to you. Someone mentioned about having things so you could work blind-folded. That was correct. You also mentioned you couldn't prep items, or that's what I perceived, so, if it's an onion, it's peeled, a pepper, it's seeded, do what you can and sometimes stretch the limits. You may find something that could benefit everyone, not just your station. Unless every plate is ingredient specific, there should be some cross-over between ingredients so....what ever is peeled, seeded or somewhat prepped, nothing should be wasted.
To a degree, it makes sense to me why you prep as needed. If two dishes called for sliced onion and two called for minced and two for diced, the policy seems to be geared toward the freshest possible ingredients. I've come to believe that more often than not on this side of the pond, we do too much mise en place. The only explanation for that is because our McWalbee's culture that demands things be done last week. Granted that's an exaggeration but it's not that far fetched.
I wish I had more time and was a bit more organized in my thoughts but I have to run. If anything else comes to mind, I'll post it later. Just one other thing........Please understand that this will take some time. It's not going to happen over night. Heck, what I've suggested may not even work for you but you won't know unless you try. Oh yeah....good luck!
Edited by oldschool1982 - 2/17/14 at 8:39am