If you’re working in the kitchen of Anthony Bourdain, legendary chef of Brasserie Les Halles, best-selling author, and famed television personality, you don’t dare so much as boil hot water without attending to a ritual that’s essential for any self-respecting chef: mise-en-place.
The “Meez,” as professionals call it, translates into “everything in its place.” In practice, it involves studying a recipe, thinking through the tools and equipment you will need, and assembling the ingredients in the right proportion before you begin. It is the planning phase of every meal—the moment when chefs evaluate the totality of what they are trying to achieve and create an action plan for the meal ahead – Ron Friedman
I’ve just finished reading Craig Ballantynes – The Perfect Day Formula. It’s here I encountered mise en place.
I immediately shared my new found knowledge with my friend JP who owns a small restaurant and she said “we couldn’t open without it. You couldn’t seriously run any kind of food establishment without the mise en place.”
“Mise-en-place is the religion of all good line cooks,” Bourdain wrote in his runaway bestseller Kitchen Confidential. “As a cook, your station, and its condition, its state of readiness, is an extension of your nervous system… The universe is in order when your station is set…”
Most of us don’t work in kitchens so how can we apply this to our work?
Ron suggests this approach:
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?
Use this exercise to determine those activities that are important to you but probably not urgent, that you want to focus on. Then design a plan for achieving those things for that day. It’s not about making a huge “to get done” list, it is about making what is important but not urgent a priority.
Craig says the best to-do lists sticks to a handful of very specific, actionable and non conflicting items. Schedule your number one priority first. Attack it immediately in the morning. Start there and you will win your morning hours and you will own your day!