Mise en place is the ritual of preparing your cooking area that chefs take part in before starting any actual cooking. Ron Friedman at Harvard Business Review suggests applying aspects of mise en place to your job for a stronger start to your day.
Photo by Charles Haynes
The literal translation of mise en place is “putting in place”, and the process makes a lot of sense. Chefs take some time to evaluate the entirety of their shift and get everything in place at their station so that it all becomes an extension of their own body. Friedman describes how you can apply it your workday using celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain’s explanation of mise en place:
What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at your desk? For many of us, checking email or listening to voice mail is practically automatic. In many ways, these are among the worst ways to start a day. Both activities hijack our focus and put us in a reactive mode, where other people’s priorities take center stage. They are the equivalent of entering a kitchen and looking for a spill to clean or a pot to scrub.
A better approach is to begin your day with a brief planning session. An intellectual mise-en-place. Bourdain envisions the perfect execution before starting his dish. Here’s the corollary for the enterprising business professional. Ask yourself this question the moment you sit at your desk: The day is over and I am leaving the office with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. What have I achieved?
Taking some time to look ahead and prep your work area may seem simple, but doing so can help you separate the truly important issues of the day from the ones that just feel important. Before you go clean up that little spill you caused, make sure the meal is ready for the customer.
How to Spend the First 10 Minutes of Your Day [Harvard Business Review]