If you’ve ever spent time in a professional kitchen, or if you’re a home cook, you’ve heard the term “mise en place.” Pronounced “meez-ahn-plahz,” it’s French for “put in place.” It defines an organizational concept that keeps kitchens around the world running efficiently.
From how a chef reads, prepares the ingredients for and executes a recipe; sets up her work station and keeps it clean; and runs the business end of the kitchen, mise en place encompasses everything in a chef’s life.
“You can’t be a chef and just go in and cook,” said Todd Engel, head chef at Greenhouse Craft Food in Round Rock, Texas. “To be a chef, you need to be organized to run the business, and it all comes back to mise en place.”
Taught in culinary schools the world over, mise en place is drilled into every chef until it becomes a mindset, a way of life. But outside professional kitchens, many of us are never taught how to organize, how to plan and prepare for what’s next. We’re left to figure it out for ourselves.
And apparently we’re struggling, because according to ReportLinker, the U.S. home organization products market is forecast to grow 3.4% per year, reaching $10 billion by 2019.
But not even $10 billion worth of folders, apps and gadgets will help you get organized if you haven’t developed an organizational mindset.
Chef Engel says he applies mise en place outside the kitchen as well, to everything from buying a car to achieving his yearly goals.
“Mise en place is a life skill. It’s all about being prepared for what’s to come,” he said. “You can’t control life, but you can be prepared for it.”
To develop an organizational, mise en place mindset, begin with these three steps.
Mise en place your mornings
When you arrive at your desk in the morning set aside time for a “10-minute meez.” Before you check email or voicemail, sit down, clear your mind and think about what you need to accomplish by day’s end to make you feel happy and satisfied.
Write down everything you need and want to accomplish (note the distinction), and create a to-do list ordered by priority.
Put the tasks that require the most mental energy on the top of the list, with less taxing items like returning phone calls and emails, along with the things you want to do if there’s time, at the end of the day.
By generating a priority-ordered list each day you have a guide to get you through chaotic afternoons when your concentration and energy are waning and it’s harder to stay focused.
It’s important you order your own priorities before you check other people’s priorities.
Start the day from a calm, proactive place instead of feeling frenzied, reacting to the needs of others. Your 10-minute meez is the most important meeting you’ll have all day; be sure not to miss it.
Slow down to speed up
In the kitchen it’s better to slow down for one minute and get the dish right than to do it in a rush and screw it up, which puts everyone behind six minutes to redo the plate.
In your writing and research, be mindful about the task at hand.
When researching, be thorough. Get all the information you need at the planning stage so you’re not wasting an hour later on, tracking down a source or quote you could have gotten the first time around.
When writing your first draft, you’re prepping all the raw ingredients of your research so your finished product, your copy, will be outstanding. Make that first draft the best first draft possible so the second and third rounds of revising and editing go smoother.
When you’re revising and editing, working toward the final draft, work with purpose and attention to ensure it’s “perfectly seasoned” and exactly what your client ordered.
Clean as you work
To help keep your mind clear, keep your desk clear. When you’re done using materials for a project, put them away before you move on to the next one. Even if it’s just putting papers into a folder and stacking the folders in a big pile, it will reduce the amount of “visual noise” in your day.
The more visual noise you have in your workspace, the more distracted you can become. This can be especially troublesome in the afternoons.
If you start out the day at a cluttered desk it can make you feel frazzled right out the gate. And if your clean morning desk looks like a bomb went off by 2pm, you’ll have a hard time staying focused for the last few hours of the day. And let’s face it, that’s hard enough as it is!
By cleaning as you work, you carry the Zen you cultivated with your 10-minute morning meez throughout the day.
And, when your desk is clean at the end of the day, you’ll be able to jump right into your 10-minute meez the next day. You’ll create your own cycle of success!
At the heart of mise en place is value. It says everything from your time and energy to your resources are valuable, so use them wisely and reduce waste as much as possible.
The more efficient you are, the faster you can write. Writing faster means earning more money, which ultimately frees up your time to spend with the people you love.
“I wish I’d spent more time at the office,” said no one, ever, at the end of their life. Use mise en place to order your life today, so you get the most value out of every day you have.
**This article appeared on Wealthy Web Writer on March 23, 2016.