If you want to transition well – and by well I mean effectively, easily, comfortably as well as fast – you need to organize your transition area. Don’t just toss your stuff on the ground in a heap and then wander away to race.
Lay things out in a logical fashion, give some thought to the order in which you will do things (put on shoes, then put on gloves, then…) and (you know this is coming…) PRACTICE IT!
I mentioned in the post about BRIC training that you should set up a transition area in your garage or front yard. Do your bike, then when you get back go thru your transition process and run. Do that for swim to bike as well — get a friend to watch your gear if you’re worried about it getting swiped.
Practice your transitions. Lay out your gear in a logical fashion where you can easily get to all of it and where you know where it is. Experiment with different layouts in practice. You may find it’s better to put your bike shoes on first then clip into your pedals. Some people like to clip the shoes into the pedals, then put your feet in the shoes after you’re on the bike (I don’t like to do that, personally). Try it each way and see which works better for you.
Give some thought to your transitions and you’ll avoid a lot of frustration and wasted time/energy.