Take Mise-en-Place Out of the Kitchen

Individualized healthcare is finally receiving the attention it deserves from the Western medical institution – and for good reason.

No two people experience life the same way… 

Not if they live on the same side of town, or have the same parents, or studied the same major. Commonalities of personality and lifestyle simply aren’t enough to guarantee similar results for similar treatment.

The same is true for personal development. No one method works exclusively well for Type-A personalities (a subjective assessment on its own), or can boast proven and consistent results for those with ADHD or anxiety.

We’re all individuals, and any one-size-fits-all approach will leave us feeling disenfranchised, disappointed, and ultimately dysfunctional.

Our approach to the organization and prioritization of our unique life gardens must be just that – unique.

Instead of believing in systems, methods, and isms, let’s believe in strategies. Ideas. Concepts. 

Any intangible modality with membranous borders, pliable enough to be adapted to your own needs and structure, should fit the bill.

Like, for example, a quaint practice derived originally from military discipline, adapted for French cooking: mise-en-place.

Let’s discuss what mise-en-place means and how it can apply to preparing your life.

A Decadent Idea 

Mise-en-place means put in place. It’s the first step a chef takes before preparing a meal – gathering ingredients, dicing what needs dicing, chopping what needs chopping, salting, marinating, mixing, pre-heating, and whatever else will be required in the duration of cooking.

Some say it was borne of Chef Georges-Auguste Escoffier in the 19th century as part of his “brigade system.” 

Essentially, mise-en-place codifies a specific plan for workflow – something even highly effective, creative, and productive people struggle with.

It’s about rigorous planning and forethought, and arranging the physical world around you to reflect readiness and promote ease of use.

Impossible tasks are a lot more impossible when scurrying for your resources occurs in the same breath as drawing up an outline.

Mise-en-place, at its heart, is doing yourself a favor.

Where Can It Be Used?

Simple answer? Everywhere!

Our lives are vast and populated. If you’ve ever felt like it’s not the thing that needs to be done that scares you, but the getting started

You’re looking at a scheduling issue, and you’re not alone.

By dedicating energy to thinking about the things you need to do and the processes you’ll need to use to do them, you break tasks down to their parts and rip the “scary” right out of them.

You limit movement and save energy.

Your work desk?

Arrange the items you’ll need first and the items you’ll use the most closest to you. There’s no need for a stapler to be front and center when your planner and calendar are buried under paperwork.

Your laundry room? 

If your basket is shoved into a back corner that’s difficult to reach, and your detergent is in a messy box under the sink, and you trip over your trash can for dryer lint whenever you walk through the room, doing your laundry becomes twice as stressful. Keep the trash can next to the dryer, your basket under the sink, and your detergent within arm’s reach of the washer. 

Leave a horizontal space always clear for folding laundry so you don’t fall into the trap of dirtying up another space in your home while you puzzle out the best time to spread out your clean laundry so it doesn’t inconvenience anything else. 

Your relationship in disarray?

Every station in your life should be set up for what it’s for – certainly a station won’t solve every romantic problem, but is there an area for you and your partner that is designed for the two of you to connect? For most, it’s the bedroom – are the books you share or the crossword puzzles you do together within reach? Does it look like a room divided by personality? 

Working clean and saving time are huge tenets included in the mise-en-place umbrella – are you unresolved about feelings, arguments, resentments? Are you starting from a clean space or loading up dishes into the sink, thinking you’ll get to them later? 

Mise-en-place is a simple principle. 

It implies imprinting behavior onto spaces and objects, assigning meaning and order to our surroundings. 

A disordered space exists that way because things are where they don’t belong.

What in your life is where it doesn’t belong? Tackling corner by corner of your life and your space to make it maximally efficient and timely might take 30 minutes per corner.

Isn’t that worth a try?

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Dr. Pedram Shojai

NY Times Best Selling author and film maker. Taoist Abbot and Qigong master. Husband and dad. I’m here to help you find your way and be healthy and happy. I don’t want to be your guru…just someone who’ll help point the way. If you’re looking for a real person who’s done the work, I’m your guy. I can light the path and walk along it with you but can’t walk for you.