Everything in Its Place

  • Author: Dan Charnas
  • Full Title: Everything in Its Place
  • Tags: Books #productivity #work #career #effectiveness #leadership
  • Recommendation: 10/10
    • Rereading through these notes ~2 years later, a lot of the ideas and practical tips have become ingrained habits that help me stay sane at work.
    • In particular, the idea of the daily meeze was a great update to the Shutdown Ritual that I had started after reading [[Deep Work]] by [[Cal Newport]]. I have the last 30 minutes of my workday blocked off in my calendar for this, and I always regret it when I skip it at the end of a day.
    • Process time has also been a helpful concept, and has dedicated blocks of time on my calendar - first 30 minutes of my day to get situated and the 30 minutes before my daily meeze to tie up any loose ends.
    • This book is foundational for me in how I work on a daily basis, and has a great mix of higher level thinking and very practical recommendations that you can implement right away.
    • The cooking metaphors are also interesting, and I learned a lot about how a professional kitchen works which is just a nice bonus!

Summary

  • The main premise of this book is to take the principles of mise-en-place from the kitchen and apply them to everyday knowledge work.
  • While most people focus on learning technical skills in order to advance their career, what’s most important is having a foundational philosophy that guides how you work, including how you prioritize, how you communicate, and how you start and stop projects.
  • In other words, this is a book about bringing intentionality and discipline to your workday.
  • One central practice recommended in the book is called the Daily Meeze. It’s a time, typically 30 minutes, to put everything in its place so that you are prepared for your workday. It includes:
    • cleaning your workspaces — physical and virtual
    • Clearing your mind
    • Planning your day
  • The daily meeze works really well as a Shutdown Ritual at the end of a workday.
  • Charnas distinguishes two types of tasks: process tasks and immersive tasks.
    • Immersive tasks require your full attention for a period of time. Examples include meetings, writing a proposal, or creative work.
    • Process tasks are shorter tasks that unlock other tasks. Reading and answering emails (or slack messages), delegating and assigning tasks, triaging support tickets, providing feedback or guidance on others work. These kinds of tasks have high #leverage, since by doing it you unblock other actions, either for yourself or others.
    • Process tasks are also not typically part of your job description, they are things that are just expected. They can fragment your focus, and so it’s valuable to schedule short blocks of time throughout your day to devote to process time, especially if you are managing others.
  • Train yourself to be honest with yourself about how long tasks will take by blocking time on your calendar for each item on your todo list. This will help you set better expectations for yourself (and others!) about how much work you are able to get done in a given day.
  • Transition times can fragment your attention. When you finish something, put everything related to it away before you move onto the next thing. If you get interrupted, at least try to jot down notes so that when you come back to the task, it is easier to pick up where you left off.
  • Don’t start what you can’t finish. Break down your work into smaller tasks to help make this easier.

Highlights

  • mise-en-place, pronounced like “me’s on plahhs.” (Location 129)
  • “put in place,” and a definition: “the preparation and assembly of ingredients, pans, utensils, and plates or serving pieces needed for a particular dish or service period.” (Location 132)
  • Over time, mise-en-place begins to reveal itself as a set of values: Apprenticing oneself. Getting to class early, not just on time. Working with intensity. Cultivating a sense of urgency. Remaining alert. Aiming for perfection. (Location 148)
  • This idea of mise-en-place, a curriculum unto itself, begins to migrate outside the kitchen. Students load their backpacks and lay their clothes out at night before bed, iron their chef’s whites and shine their shoes. They use timelines and prep lists to study for their academic courses, not just their cooking classes. They organize their desks, their closets, their rooms. They even begin “mise-en-placing” their social activities to maximize their time off. (Location 150)
  • What LiPuma will be teaching and testing here is their physical, mental, and ethical mise-en-place, without which they will never be able to use any of those techniques in a professional setting. (Location 165)
  • Make a mental diagram of where everything is and should be. Know the recipes. And come to class every day with your timeline. “No timeline means 20 percent off your daily grade,” he warns. He knows that when they get into the professional world, these students won’t write timelines. Instead they’ll internalize them. (Location 176)
  • “What kind of ladle do you need for the soup?” LiPuma asks. “An 8-ounce ladle. Why? Because that’s the portion size.” If students have a 2-ounce ladle, they will have to ladle four times instead of one. (Location 183)
  • They will win additional speed by arranging their tools. “I should be able to blindfold you,” the chef says, “and when I say, ‘Pick up your tongs,’ you know that they’re always right there, that your ladle is right there, that your oil is right here.” They will accrue even more speed by properly arranging their ingredients. LiPuma wants all their ingredients “zoned out”: all the ingredients for one dish in one area. “The less your hand moves, the more efficient you are.” (Location 185)
  • This is what LiPuma is teaching everyone: order in space, order in time. (Location 241)
  • Dogen writes of preparation—that tomorrow starts today, at noon, when the ingredients for the next day’s meals should be assembled— (Location 315)
  • What I saw in that moment wasn’t so much a lull in service as it was a kind of peace, a pause in time and space. This calm—seemingly willed by the mastery of the chef—comes from focus, one of the unsung wages of chefdom. A chef plans, and thus a chef gets to decide what happens and when. (Location 422)
  • restaurant, which also has an interesting literal meaning: place of restoration, so named for the restorative soups (restaurants) that several of these early establishments sold. The restaurateur is someone who restores people, nourishes them. The chef makes that restoration possible. (Location 431)
  • What we are about to do is embark on a different kind of “trail,” not to learn how to cook, but to learn how to work, and work clean—consciously and efficiently—by exploring the system of mise-en-place and by practicing those behaviors in the world outside the kitchen, a world which sorely needs those values. (Location 443)
  • CHAOS How we work without mise-en-place (Location 446)
  • Jeremy’s problem is this: He doesn’t have a philosophy and a system that will help him do all the other things he does. He has the requisite skills to work; he just doesn’t know how to handle a workload. (Location 567)

  • Even doctors and lawyers confide that they didn’t learn many of the essentials of their professions in school. Near the top of that list for them, and for us, is how to prepare, how to create order, and how to prioritize the work at hand. (Location 576)
  • Almost all modern work requires personal organization. And yet, as in the other half of our lives—personal relationships—little comprehensive training exists. (Location 578)

  • Covey urged his readers to escape the culture of urgency and do important things first. (Location 591)
  • In 2001, David Allen’s book Getting Things Done offered one of the most comprehensive systems yet for managing daily work and introduced a powerful concept for prioritizing: In all projects, keep a focus on the “next action.” (Location 593)
  • Organizing is not an intellectual exercise. We must also know how to handle the mental, emotional, and physical challenges and resistance we all encounter. In other words, we don’t just need strategies and systems. We also suffer for the lack of guiding principles that account for all our human dimensions. (Location 604)
  • KITCHEN VERSUS OFFICE (Location 608)
  • What are your standards? What habits make you successful? How strongly are you willing to hold on to your regimen of good habits in a world that will tempt you to ditch them, often without any immediate consequence? How much are you willing to keep your own focus despite the chaos around you? This is what it means to work clean. (Location 682)
  • THE THREE VALUES OF MISE-EN-PLACE (Location 686)
  • Mise-en-place comprises three central values: preparation, process, and presence. (Location 687)
  • Preparation (Location 690)
  • Embracing preparation also means jettisoning the notion that prep work is somehow menial, beneath us. No chef is above its rigor. In mise-en-place, preparation is royal—except that, as a chef, it is you who is serving and being served at the same time. Your preparation—and its intellectual cousin, planning—thus becomes a kind of spiritual practice: humble, tireless, and nonnegotiable. (Location 698)
  • Process (Location 702)
  • Excellence arises from refining good process—how can I do this better, or easier, or with less waste? It’s a job, like preparation, that never ends. (Location 712)
  • Presence (Location 714)
  • We can practice these values via 10 distinct behaviors. Let’s call these behaviors the ingredients of mise-en-place. (Location 729)
  • SECOND COURSE THE INGREDIENTS OF WORKING CLEAN (Location 734)
  • THE FIRST INGREDIENT PLANNING IS PRIME (Location 735)
  • Being scrupulous with time means more than creating a list. Making a list is only half the job of planning. To complete the other half, the chef must square that list with the clock. How much time will this take? How many things can I do in time given my resources? When, exactly, will I do them, and in what order? Chefs cannot afford to take too many chances in the careful balance between time and tasks. Time forces them to make decisions. (Location 792)
  • It’s hard to decide—literally, to kill off one thing in favor of another, as the word decide comes from the same Latin root as homicide and suicide. Chefs make good executives because they are executioners, killing off the nonessential. (Location 795)
  • Chefs schedule their tasks The scheduling of tasks, negotiating between the list and the calendar, is at the center of the chef’s approach to planning. (Location 798)
  • Experienced students unpack nested tasks and break them down into their component actions. Then they put them in sequence. (Location 809)
  • Dufresne instructs his chefs to make lists, not only of the things they know they need to do, but everything they might need to do—telling them that he’d rather have them cross needless items off their lists than miss an item and realize it only when it’s too late. (Location 838)
  • Chefs plan ahead, chefs plan backward (Location 841)
  • Underplanners surrender to time. Overplanners fight and curse time. What we need is the chef’s mature sense of honesty about what we can and cannot do with time, and of the consequences of surrendering or fighting something that should just be met squarely. (Location 871)
  • Determining our daily actions (Location 874)
  • Ordering those actions in sequence (Location 875)
  • MAKE AN HONESTY LOG (Location 877)
  • Knowing how long our actions take is harder for us to determine, but that information is valuable. Creating an honesty log will help you understand how much time your regular, recurring tasks actually require. So for your most important categories of tasks, log your times for a month on a piece of paper, a spreadsheet, or a time-tracking app, and see if they average out in a meaningful way. (Location 885)
  • For executives, how many small tasks, like returning e-mails, can you complete in an hour, on average? (Location 887)
  • Perhaps you will always have certain tasks that are particularly hard to nail down. But what you can do, even in those cases, is determine what the length of a “minimum session” might be. Maybe it’s not worth working on a logo concept if you can’t set aside at least an hour. Great. An hour becomes your baseline for that particular task. And knowing that a logo design might take up to 30 hours, it’s your job to gauge and moderate other projects you accept so that you can deliver the one on hand. (Location 888)
  • FIND YOUR MEEZE POINT the optimal number of Actions you can put on your daily list before you begin to overload yourself, an Action being either an appointment or a task. (Location 895)
  • To begin: 1.Select a maximum of three Actions to complete for this day. An Action can be as large as something that takes 5 hours or as small as 5 minutes. We want a nice balance of large to small actions, like a normal day. (Location 898)
  • 2.Place those Actions on your calendar at the appropriate times. (Location 901)
  • 3.Do not plan or schedule any other tasks for the day. You may do extra, unplanned tasks, of course, as long as you honor your schedule. 4.Honor your schedule. Show up for your appointments and tasks. If a real crisis arises and you can’t honor your schedule, it may be best to do this exercise another day. 5.At the end of the day, log how many of your three tasks you accomplished. 6.If you completed all three, then the next week, on your designated day, select and schedule four Actions. If you didn’t complete all three, stay at three next week. 7.Continue each week until you arrive at a number of Actions where you become unable to cross all the items off the list for 3 weeks in a row. For example, if you sometimes can get through a nine-item list, but can’t ever get through a 10-item list, then your Meeze Point is 9. (Location 902)
  • 8.Once you arrive at your Meeze Point, you can then begin to bring other days into this regimen, using your Meeze Point as a guide for your maximum number of Actions to schedule for your days. From this practice, I know my Meeze Point is 10. (Location 911)
  • KITCHEN PRACTICE: MAKE A TIMELINE (Location 914)
  • HABITS: BEHAVIORS TO REPEAT (Location 929)
  • CREATE A DAILY MEEZE (Location 930)
  • What is a Daily Meeze? It is a personal mise-en-place for your workday, a time to (a) clean your physical and virtual spaces, (b) clear your mind, and (c) plot your day. How much time does it take? 30 minutes. (Location 933)

  • When should I do it? In kitchens since the time of the tenzo, tomorrow begins today. Many chefs begin tomorrow’s planning in the evening, at the end of their current workday. Some like to do their planning in the morning because new and important considerations often appear at the start of a workday. It all depends on the kind of chef you are. (Location 936)
  • SCHEDULE YOUR ACTIONS (Location 941)
  • An Action is anything you plan to do during the day. (Location 941)
  • We schedule our Actions to help us make decisions about them—and as a device to force our hand. The calendar compels us to be honest about time. (Location 953)

  • PLAN “PLATE FIRST” (Location 955)
  • Plan complex, multistep projects as chefs do: with the end in mind. Just as some chefs begin a dish by drawing a plate, for your own projects, first envision the moment of delivery, then plan backward from it. (Location 956)
  • GET THERE EARLY Where is “there”? Everywhere. How early? Fifteen minutes. Why? The dividends are serenity and opportunity. Entering a space calmly, under your own control, and without apology retains your power and dignity. So (Location 960)

  • From this, he learned several things: Mise-en-place is not about focus, but rather the process of negotiating focus and chaos. Mise-en-place (Location 977)
  • And mise-en-place is also a shared culture, meaning that while he could have his own mise-en-place in his home, that mise-en-place ended where his wife and kids began, unless he and his family agreed where they shared (Location 979)
  • THE SECOND INGREDIENT ARRANGING SPACES, PERFECTING MOVEMENTS (Location 994)
  • WHAT CHEFS DO, WHAT CHEFS KNOW Chefs gather their resources The heart of mise-en-place is “place” itself: the cook’s station. (Location 1059)
  • Chefs hold a few governing principles: Ingredients should be close by and close together. Ingredients for each dish should be arranged in the order that they go into the pan or plate, and they should all be grouped together in “zones,” as Chef Dwayne LiPuma calls them. A cook can’t root around for ingredients scattered all over the place. A cook’s hand should move inches, not feet. And the arrangement of ingredients and tools needs to be constant from day to day, so that the cook can learn and internalize the movements in her space. (Location 1073)
  • Every day, chefs cultivate the use of both sides of the body, both sides of a space, and both sides of a motion. (Location 1161)
  • We arrange spaces—and perfect movements within those spaces—to remove resistance. The less friction we have in our work, the easier it is to do, the more we can do, and the quicker we can do it; and thus the more physical and mental energies we can preserve for other things. (Location 1183)
  • In the kitchen, chefs and cooks work clean with space and movement because even a slight amount of friction—not knowing where an ingredient or tool is—will slow them down, physically and mentally, and undermine their ability to be excellent. (Location 1186)
  • AUDIT YOUR SPACES AND MOVES (Location 1200)
  • Step One. List three tasks that you find difficult or resist doing. 1.One physical task at home or work (for example: taking out the trash, putting project materials away) 2.One digital task on a digital device (for example: answering e-mails, backing up the computer) 3.One complex process or errand at or between home and work (for example: prepping to teach a class, taking stuff to cleaners) (Location 1202)
  • Step Two. For each of those tasks, list one action you can take to decrease that resistance. Some suggestions: (Location 1207)
  • DRAW AND BUILD YOUR WORKSTATION (Location 1224)
  • HABITS: BEHAVIORS TO REPEAT CHECKLISTS: RECIPES FOR PROCESSES (Location 1261)
  • Break it down into 10 steps or fewer. (Location 1272)
  • Unlike task lists, which we use to remind us of the actions we have to accomplish throughout our day, checklists guide us through the interior of the more complex processes that we must repeat without fail. Task lists change every day; checklists don’t change. (Location 1281)
  • DIGITAL DECLUTTER, SOFTWARE SHORTCUTS (Location 1285)
  • Recipe for Success Commit to setting your station and reducing impediments to your movements and activities. Remove friction. (Location 1339)
  • “If you can’t clean, you can’t cook,” Jean-Georges told him. “You cook the way you look.” (Location 1387)
  • Cleaning as you go, not waiting to clean, separated true chefs and cooks from everyone else. (Location 1392)
  • For the chef, the first stage of mise-en-place is readiness—make your plan, gather your resources, arrange your space. Then you cook. What happens in these next moments is the second stage and true test of mise-en-place. Do the objects you’ve so carefully arranged go back to their rightful places, or does the station you’ve set become chaotic? (Location 1426)
  • What many chefs seem to be aiming for, then, is not cleaning for the sake of cleanliness, but rather cleaning as a spiritual practice. Chefs see a direct correlation not only between the condition of one’s station and one’s mind, but also between the tolerance of dirt and the tolerance of distractions, and between the disposition of oneself to cleaning and to responsibility in general. (Location 1461)
  • This holistic view of cleaning—that it should be integrated into every moment of a chef’s work, and that cooks clean not just for one but for all—creates the foundation for excellence in the professional kitchen. (Location 1466)
  • OUT OF THE KITCHEN (Location 1468)
  • No chef works clean primarily for the spiritual benefits. He works clean because unclean food can kill people. (Location 1469)
  • That’s the reason why the game of counting seconds and minutes spent or saved by cleaning misses the point. One simply cannot foretell the cost of chaos and mess. (Location 1492)
  • EXERCISES: SKILLS TO LEARN COME TO ZERO (Location 1500) - In yoga, practitioners develop a habit of coming back to a neutral posture between each exercise. We’ll call this neutral state zero point. The concept of zero point can help us maintain our systems. (Location 1504)
  • For 1 day, every hour on the hour that you are at your desk, take 1 minute to reset both your physical and digital workspace, no matter what you are currently doing. (Location 1508)
  • PRACTICE PROJECT HYGIENE (Location 1524)
  • Try not to begin a new project without putting the old one away. (Location 1526)

  • DEVELOP A REPERTOIRE OF CLEANING TACTICS (Location 1537)
  • Dusting and wiping. The difference between a clean and a dusty desk is subtle, but the subliminal effects are huge. Always have a duster and a wiping cloth in your tool kit. Buy a duster that’s easily washable in soap and water, or else buy a disposable duster system like Swiffer. You can also keep a cloth or disposable wipes at the ready. (Location 1539)

  • Straightening the items on your desk, especially during transition times, is like a beginner’s cleaning practice. (Location 1544)
  • Containerizing. For tools and loose items that make a regular appearance on your desk but need to be handy—like headphones or cell phones or wallets—purchase small boxes or trays in which to quickly place and retrieve those objects. (Location 1558)
  • Recipe for Success Commit to maintaining your system. Always be cleaning. (Location 1582)
  • THE FOURTH INGREDIENT MAKING FIRST MOVES (Location 1583)
  • The first moments count more than later ones. (Location 1623)
  • The present has incalculably more value than the future. An action taken now has immeasurably more impact than a step taken later because the reactions to that action have more time to perpetuate. (Location 1650)
  • When a task in the present unlocks a current of work that other people do on our behalf, the worth of process time increases and becomes harder to measure. (Location 1687)

    • How to increase your #leverage
  • First, a first move can serve as a placeholder or a mark. (Location 1707)
  • Second, making first moves creates momentum. (Location 1709)
  • On the highest level, making first moves results in multiplication. Investing the present moment with action can save multiple moments in the future. (Location 1712)
  • How do you know if a task needs immersive or process time? (Location 1717)
  • In principle, any task that requires you to be “hands-on” is immersive; any task that you can briefly start or maintain and then be “hands-off” is process. (Location 1718)
  • SCHEDULE BLOCKS OF IMMERSIVE AND PROCESS TIME (Location 1766)
  • ■Get in the habit of determining what tasks require immersive versus process time, as in the previous exercise. ■Begin each day with 30 minutes of scheduled process time—starting, unlocking, and unblocking the work of others. ■Alternate blocks of process and immersive work throughout your day. The more management responsibilities you have, the more process time you need in your day. ■Given your responsibilities, try to attain a perfect ratio of process to creative work. A ratio for a writer will be different from that of a department manager. Start with a 1:1 formula for creative and process time, and adjust your schedule from there. ■Schedule process time directly after meetings. After a long, immersive meeting, make process time to digest and set action items in motion, whether by marking them on your schedule or Action list or by delegating them. (Location 1783)

  • THE FIFTH INGREDIENT FINISHING ACTIONS (Location 1827)
  • Finishing actions clears the mind as much as it clears the plate. An action once finished does not need attention or memory. (Location 1894)
  • Don’t start what you can’t finish. (Location 1903)
  • Finishing” can also be stopping a project while it’s incomplete but taking just an extra few seconds to wrap it up for resumption later so as to not leave loose ends hanging. What chefs attempt to avoid are orphaned tasks—things that take up physical and mental space because they haven’t been tied up in the easiest possible form to be resumed later. (Location 1907)

  • EXERCISES: SKILLS TO LEARN DEVELOPING A NOSE FOR THE FINISHABLE (Location 1929)
  • We judge the finishable by two parameters: ease and expectation. (Location 1931)
  • High-expectation and high-ease tasks are finishable. ■Low-expectation and low-ease tasks are delayable. ■Low-expectation and high-ease tasks are distracting. ■And high-expectation and low-ease tasks are the complex tasks that most need scheduling. (Location 1935)
  • Try this thought exercise for 1 day’s work, marking each task on your daily list with one of the four categories listed in the delivery matrix above, and then choosing which actions to deliver based on what yields the best combination of practical and political benefit. (Location 1971)
  • WHY WE STOP AND STRATEGIES FOR CONTINUING (Location 1982)
  • First, discern fatigue from fear. Fear often masquerades as fatigue, with a similar physiology: heavy eyelids, sore muscles, even sleepiness. Real fatigue is to be respected. Fear-related fatigue often needs a cup of coffee, a pep talk, or a kick in the pants. (Location 1988)
  • Ambition compels us. Ambition is our inner executive chef run amok. The solution for those moments when our inner chef begins ordering us to do the next two things before we’ve finished the first is to give ourselves a temporary “demotion.” The chef needs to chill out for a bit. Put yourself in the mind-set of the employee, not the boss: Until these mushrooms are done, I’m a prep cook, not a chef. Until my project is done, I’m the assembly-line worker, not the executive. Remove your freedom to do something else. (Location 2001)
  • TIE IT UP Sometimes we can’t finish, the truly urgent arises, or we just plain run out of time. When we know that we’re going to be leaving loose ends, we try to find ways to tie them up for ourselves so that our physical and mental ramp-up time is minimized. (Location 2022)
  • Collect all the materials for the project and keep them in one place until you resume. (Location 2025)
  • Jot down any thoughts that are at the top of your mind that you want to remember. ■Schedule your session to resume the work, or set a reminder now to schedule one later. ■Communicate your progress to partners or stakeholders to assess what remains to be done and whether help is available now or upon resumption. (Location 2027)
  • CHUNKING TIME (Location 2065)
  • Figure out the discrete parts of each project. 2.Build your pause points with intentionality. 3.Work intently toward those points. (Location 2069)
  • Working clean with obligations and expectations means that we should strive to make breaks intentional ones. The rules: 1.Any time you enter a creative session, take as many breaks as you like within it. 2.On a piece of paper or a spreadsheet, begin an intentional break log. 3.At the top, write down your start time. (Location 2080)

  • 4.For each break, log your in and out times on a new line. 5.Beside each break, put the reason for the break. ■Mental (e.g., when you want to chat, browse, or when you just can’t think) ■Physical (e.g., bathroom breaks, snack breaks, stretching, or walking around) ■Social (e.g., interruptions, chats with friends or colleagues) ■Work (e.g., other projects) (Location 2085)
  • 6.When you are finished with your creative session, log your end time. 7.Calculate the time between your start and end times, and subtract the amount of time you took for breaks. (Location 2095)
  • THE SIXTH INGREDIENT SLOWING DOWN TO SPEED UP (Location 2120)
  • “Pretend that you are calm,” he said. (Location 2186)
  • Chefs don’t panic (Location 2187)
  • Don’t rush; when you rush, your movements become sloppy. Don’t panic; when you panic, you forget things. When you find yourself rushing or panicking or both, just stop. Breathe. If your anxiety compels you to move, then clean. (Location 2188)
  • Chefs put precision before speed (Location 2200)
  • All human movement and thought result from neurons—our brain cells—communicating in synchrony with each other. That communication happens through physical pathways called axons, which signal other neurons, and dendrites, which receive those signals. The brain creates a substance called myelin that quickens that transmission. The more a particular connection “fires,” the more myelin “wires” that connection by adhering to the firing axon. This process, called myelinization, is the physiological result of repeated motion, repeated thought, repeated practice. It is how we learn and how we achieve mastery. (Location 2203)
  • Chefs slow their bodies to slow time (Location 2213)
  • But slowing down can also refer to the cognitive—how we think—and also interpersonal and theoretical realms—how we engage a new project, how we embark on a new relationship, how we invest money and resources. (Location 2228)
  • Taking the time to slow down and analyze a complex task—even though it may feel like a waste of time and a pain in the ass while you are doing the analysis—will save you time in the long term. (Location 2267)
  • She has so much work to do that she begins to feel restless after simply opening and looking at the first document. So she clicks over to her Internet browser, to her e-mail—whatever it takes to not feel the weight of that work pressing on her. (Location 2274)
  • THE SEVENTH INGREDIENT OPEN EYES AND EARS (Location 2333)
  • Chefs balance internal and external awareness A chef’s work requires concentration. Some chefs tell (Location 2381)
  • They found that the geography of the brain actually does engender our ability to take on two similar tasks at a time—just not three. (Location 2457)
  • To transform kitchen awareness into office awareness, we need first to take inventory. What are the things in your workspace demanding more awareness? (Location 2465)
  • What are the things in your workspace needing less awareness? (Location 2468)
  • UP PERISCOPE (Location 2503)
  • Set an hourly chime, either on a watch, your computer, or your phone. 2.Create a list of channels that you feel you must check when that chime rings to be in proper communication. (Location 2506)
  • Turn off alerts and the ringer on your phone and close your e-mail and instant messaging programs. You can even disconnect from the Internet by shutting down your browser or turning off your Wi-Fi. Do whatever you feel you need for your own peace of mind. 4.When the chime rings, grab your checklist and check in quickly on all your channels. Give yourself 5 or 10 minutes to process that communication, unless something urgent has come up. At the end of that check-in session, retreat from your connectivity again. (Location 2509)
  • RECOVERING YOUR FOCUS (Location 2532)
  • THE EIGHTH INGREDIENT CALL AND CALLBACK (Location 2558)
  • Chefs confirm communication (Location 2620)
  • Chefs demand specifics (Location 2658)
  • For the most part, staff meetings in offices happen because they’re good for the boss, not the staff. (Location 2708)
  • ■Kitchens maintain one stream of information. Ergo, the fewer streams, the better. ■Communication should be clear, concise, and respectful. ■Coworkers should have a common language. ■Communication should be confirmed with specificity, and reconfirmed when needed, for accuracy and memory. (Location 2726)

  • CONSOLIDATE YOUR STREAMS (Location 2734)
  • CONFIRM ESSENTIAL COMMUNICATION Not all communication requires callback, but essential communication does. Here’s why: According to a number of studies on corporate e-mail, recipients interpret e-mails correctly only 50 percent of the time, while believing they interpret them correctly close to 90 percent of the time. The same divergence occurs with senders. (Location 2765)

  • 1.Confirmation—a simple reply to acknowledge receipt of a piece of communication (“Got it!”) (Location 2770)

  • 2.Routing—a reply to delay, direct, deflect, defer, or refer the sender or issue in question (“Will reply by tomorrow.”) 3.Simple answer—requiring nothing more than a yes, no, or a specific piece of information (“I will meet you at 5:00 p.m.”) 4.Detailed answer—any reply requiring more than about a minute of your time (Location 2772)

  • Action language helps in meetings where people need to make those distinctions. Direct those around you to those requests by asking the right kinds of questions: What’s the consensus here? What’s the takeaway? What’s the next step? Who needs help? How can I help? (Location 2793)
  • THE NINTH INGREDIENT INSPECT AND CORRECT (Location 2831)
  • must always train and coach its staff. Ergo the best kitchens are schools, the best chefs are teachers, and the best cooks are students. (Location 2907)
  • Because chefs know that compromise sits on a slippery slope to chaos, they’re cautious and calculating about the compromises they make. If perfectionism is the quest (Location 2967)
  • Managers can function as expediters for their staff, but in the corporate world many managers perform only half of the expediter’s function: They’re good at critiquing work but horrible at timing the workload so that their crew doesn’t get overwhelmed. (Location 2982)
  • The best kitchens are schools, the best chefs are teachers, and the best cooks are students. (Location 2991)
  • EXERCISES: SKILLS TO LEARN SET STANDARDS (Location 2992)
  • To shape your own idea of mastery, address the following questions: 1.Who is your model or mentor for the work you do? What is it about her work, process, or demeanor that compels you? 2.What is an example of an ideal product or service for the kind of work you do? What are the qualities that make it so? 3.What are the habits that help you achieve your standards? 4.What are the habits that hinder your progress toward those standards? (Location 2995)
  • 5.What are the environments that assist you? What are the environments that impede you? 6.What are the external rewards or consequences you desire or expect from the impact of your work? 7.In what aspects and under what circumstances are you willing to compromise your standards? What aspects are you not willing to compromise under any circumstances? What trade-offs are you willing to make? (Location 3002)
  • Your checklist should reflect only the factors you can control. (Location 3011)
  • The items on your checklist should: ■Be actionable ■Measure quantity or quality ■Fit on one page (Location 3012)
  • Encouraging and receiving feedback is difficult but crucial to becoming a better cook, a better professional, and a better person. (Location 3031)
  • But for the majority of Americans, humble was humiliating, and the squandering of our bounty was actually the real American tradition. (Location 3104)

  • What we haven’t yet articulated is that all these behaviors are innately conservationist: not only to conserve ingredients, but to conserve the time it takes to prepare them, the movement to make the best use of that time, the space that allows for that economy of movement, and the wits and energies of the people who have to execute these tasks. (Location 3192)
  • Focus and order are by-products of the values and the behaviors of mise-en-place. (Location 3195)
  • And yet this thought form provides the target at which all kitchen work aims: total utilization, in four interrelated dimensions—space, motion (or energy), time, and resources (including ingredients, money, and people). (Location 3196)
  • Chefs save space to save motion. (Location 3199)
  • Chefs save motion to save time. (Location 3201)
  • Chefs save time to save resources. (Location 3204)
  • Chefs save resources to save the business. (Location 3207)
  • Chefs save people (Location 3212)
  • And mise-en-place not only means every thing in its place, but also every person in his or her place. (Location 3227)
  • Chefs save themselves (Location 3229)
  • Just as there should be no wasted words, no words should lay people to waste. Anger wastes people. (Location 3244)
  • To transform the kitchen, Ripert and Muller had to change the entire restaurant: reduce the number of tables, elongate seating periods, and double the number of cooks. (Location 3253)
  • He envisioned his life as a disk with three even slices—work, family, self—and tried to be so prepared, so practiced, and so present in each that there would be no spillover among them. (Location 3262)
  • Chefs let go (Location 3269)
  • Rather, the meaning of clean is conscious, ordered, prepared, persistent, honest, honorable; the opposite of unconscious, passive, unprepared, lazy, ignorant, dishonest, dishonorable. (Location 3290)
  • The goal of total utilization and mise-en-place is that you not waste life: yours or the planet’s. (Location 3304)
  • BETTER UTILIZATION EXERCISE (Location 3308)
  • When a colleague or employee fails or falls short in his performance, list the following: (a) what he is good at doing; (b) what he is not so good at doing; (c) what you are good at teaching him to do; (d) where your teaching has failed to provide results. Your job here is to critique your own teaching methods in equal measure to your scrutiny of his performance. (Location 3371)
  • When we work clean we commit to the three values of mise-en-place—preparation, process, and presence. These values take on a different flavor when taken out of the kitchen, but their essence remains the same. (Location 3430)
  • Value #1: Commit to preparation with a 30-minute daily planning session. (Location 3432)
  • Value #2: Commit to a process that makes you better. (Location 3456)
  • Understand first that what we’re after is excellence, not productivity. Productivity is working hard. Excellence is working clean. (Location 3462)

  • We need work and we need rest. We need periods of focus and also times of aimlessness. (Location 3467)
  • Without balance, the work will suffer in the long term anyway. Committing to productivity alone is like committing to only inhaling, never exhaling. That kind of commitment will kill you. (Location 3468)
  • Value #3: Commit to being present in whatever you do. (Location 3482)
  • Committing to presence means that we cultivate an ability to be deliberate. When you decide to do something, get it done. When you set an appointment with someone else or yourself, show up. When you say “yes,” mean yes. When you say “no,” mean no. When you say “11:30,” mean 11:30. (Location 3495)
  • Committing to presence means that we cultivate discreteness, boundaries between our work and our personal lives. We (Location 3499)
  • Planning entails the scheduling of tasks, which means being honest with time, respecting both your abilities and limitations. (Location 3510)
  • The real work of organization is not being clean, but working clean: keeping that system no matter how fast and furious your pace is. (Location 3521)
  • Commit to maintaining your system. Always be cleaning. (Location 3523)
  • The present moment is worth more than a future one because present action sets processes in motion and unlocks others’ work on your behalf. (Location 3526)
  • Commit to delivering. When a task is nearly done, finish it. Always be unblocking. (Location 3533)
  • Commit to working smoothly and steadily. Use physical order to restore mental order. Don’t rush. (Location 3537)
  • 3 & 4.Action list and calendar. These are your planning tools. You can get by with paper versions of these, but I strongly recommend digital lists and calendars for the flexibility they afford (see “Technology: software” below). If you use a printed task or “to-do” list (or as we call it, the Action list), you will need two sheets: (1) a running list to catch incoming tasks (“Action inbox”); and (2) a list of those Actions, categorized into Missions (“Action list”). (Location 3565)
  • In Work Clean, all tasks and appointments are Actions, and we include all Actions on our schedules and lists. (Location 3606)
  • Missions are, in effect, top-level Actions. They are supposed to be big goals, with a time scope of a year or more. (Location 3618)
  • How many Missions should we have simultaneously? In my professional life, I have six right now—four writing projects, a teaching job, and one entrepreneurial endeavor. In my personal life—both for family and for myself—I have seven, ranging from “Plan fun things with wife and son” to “Renovate apartment.” Overall, that’s 13. That’s too many. I think 10 is probably the optimum number of active Missions for most working people. (Location 3628)
  • Frontburners and Backburners: Your Recipes Every Mission requires a recipe to see it through. As in kitchens, recipes are lists of Actions that, in most cases, will happen in a particular sequence and often have sub-Actions. (Location 3637)
  • queue all incoming orders and then focus only on the next step for each dish currently on their burners. (Location 3644)
  • It’s not always about doing the so-called important thing first. It’s about ordering our Actions within time to get the important Missions (Location 3649)
  • Your Routines are essentially an empty template of your ideal week. (Location 3677)
  • Personal time. These Routines are vital for health and well-being and are often nonnegotiable, so they get scheduled first. (Location 3684)
  • All these Actions should be either blocked or shaded out on your schedule. Your Personal Routines also include making time for your 30-minute Daily Meeze. (Location 3687)
  • Meeting time. Appointments, conferences, and phone calls—whether recurring or one-off—are the first form of presence required of you by your job. You are, for the most part, going to have to schedule your Frontburners around these. (Location 3689)
  • not meetings per se, but a more casual time to share information with your colleagues and address issues. (Location 3692)
  • Immersive time. These blocks of time you reserve for deep, focused work. For example, I take a lot of meetings between Monday and Wednesday. But Thursdays and Fridays I can usually reserve for deeper work—thinking, writing, reading, and brainstorming. (Location 3693)
  • Process time. At work, the things that don’t get scheduled end up absorbing much of our time: answering correspondence, impromptu conversations, emerging crises. (Location 3696)
  • Scheduling blocks of process time at key points in your day is just about the smartest thing you can do to be honest with time. (Location 3697)
  • rolling or returning calls, checking e-mails, consulting with colleagues to keep projects moving forward, processing paperwork, doing small errands. (Location 3700)
  • Scheduling other Process Routines around noon and in the late afternoon is a good idea. Some days I like to schedule longer Process Routines to take on tougher and longer tasks needing more attention. (Location 3708)
  • Constraining Process Routines is just as important as scheduling them. If you let them, process tasks can easily spill over and flood the rest of your schedule. (Location 3711)
  • Advanced Concept: When Actions Are Routine, They Become Routines! (Location 3724)
  • There are two ways to schedule an Action: (1) as a stand-alone appointment on your calendar; or (2) grouped into a scheduled Routine containing smaller tasks. (Location 3731)
  • A DAY OF WORKING CLEAN (Location 3747)
  • THE DAILY MEEZE has four parts, each with a specific function and each taking a certain balance of the time. 1.Clean your station (approximately 15 minutes). 2.Sharpen your tools (approximately 5 minutes). 3.Plan your day (approximately 10 minutes). 4.Gather your resources. What tools do we need? Our planning tools, Action list, calendar, and a timer. Below, we’ll walk through the Daily Meeze together, step-by-step. (Location 3755)

  • STEP ONE: CLEAN YOUR STATION (approximately 15 minutes) (Location 3762)
  • Clean your station means clearing and logging all your inputs, both physical and digital—any place where you collect the “stuff” you must do. (Location 3765)
  • First: Empty and Log Physical Inputs (Location 3767)
  • Second: Clear and Log Digital Inputs (Location 3795)
  • Third: Set the Table (Location 3825)
  • STEP TWO: SHARPEN YOUR TOOLS (Location 3857)
  • First: Adjust Your Calendar (Location 3861)
  • Second: Adjust Your Action List (Location 3870)
  • STEP THREE: PLAN YOUR DAY (Location 3881)
  • Schedule new Actions and Routines on your calendar, aiming to a.Maximize the number of Frontburners b.Balance immersive and process time c.Stay under your Meeze Point (Location 3889)
  • Don’t overschedule. You may be tempted to throw a bunch of things on your calendar and fill up every available block of time in the name of efficiency. Don’t do that. Leave spaces in your schedule, especially before and after meetings, not only to account for travel time, but to allow for the kinds of interactions and processing of Actions that inevitably precede and follow them. (Location 3897)
  • Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” It’s also great advice for creating your daily schedule. Give yourself one less thing to do. Your day will be full and complete anyway. (Location 3906)
  • STEP FOUR: GATHER YOUR RESOURCES (Location 3909)
  • MORNING CHECK-IN (Location 3966)
  • Before you embark on your day, do the following: (Location 3968)
  • Check your schedule. Make sure you know your Actions, your moves for the day. Make sure you’ve gathered the resources you need. (Location 3969)
  • Check your vital inputs (like e-mail or your workplace’s messaging software). Has anything come up overnight that might necessitate a change in plans? (Location 3971)
  • Honoring the start and end times we’ve set. If (Location 3986)
  • The point isn’t to never be late or spontaneous. The point is to stop the wasted time, energy, and resources that come from our carelessness. Life produces enough chaos without us manufacturing more of it. (Location 3990)
  • PROCESS TIME (Location 3992)
  • The first thing you do when you get to your workplace is spend a short block of time—perhaps 30 minutes—on process work. For an office worker, this Process Routine might mean catching up on e-mails, voice mails, and paperwork. (Location 3993)

  • For any professional, process time is about making first moves—setting processes in motion that can happen while the hands and mind are otherwise engaged. (Location 3997)
  • TRANSITION MEEZE (Location 3999)
  • before moving into the next appointment or task, do a 1- to 5-minute Transition Meeze. (Location 3999)
  • Reset the table. Put the previous project away. Close and replace open files. Close open applications. Close browser windows. Wipe any debris off your desk. Do kichiri, or straighten your desktop, setting all objects in their right places. (Location 4002)
  • Check your schedule. Before you jump into your next project, relax and check your schedule and Action list. What’s coming up? Who’s added you to a meeting? Does anything need to be moved around? (Location 4005)
  • Check your e-mails. Quickly flag all the e-mails that need action. Archive them all. Then go into your Flagged folder and decide which e-mails you can address quickly, in a few seconds or minutes, and execute those. (Location 4007)
  • If you have time left over, do something to release the tension of work. Stand up and stretch. Talk to a friend. Check social media or your favorite Web site. Drink some water. Take some time for this Transition Meeze, but no more than 5 minutes. (Location 4009)
  • IMMERSIVE TIME: USING INTENTIONAL BREAKS (Location 4014)
  • AFTERNOON: PRESENCE (Location 4021)
  • After noon our best-laid plans and carefully followed processes often crumble under the stresses and surprises of the day. (Location 4022)
  • We stand up, stretch, and think: What’s the most important thing we can be doing to deliver this assignment? (Location 4051)
  • CONCLUSION The Miracle of Mise-en-Place (Location 4085)
  • People like you who cultivate a personal mise-en-place know that no teacher, no system, no software, no algorithm, no company, and even no amount of money or resources can do the job for you. (Location 4098)