The French have many wonderful expressions that have made their way across the pond. Mise en place is one of them. It’s a term every chef knows by heart- everything in place. And even if you’re not inclined to the kitchen, well-planned cooking can be a metaphor for well-planned living.
So how does culinary mise en place work? First, read the recipe. Next, assemble necessary ingredients, tools, and equipment. After this, prep the ingredients- measure, chop, grate etc. Then and only then, commence cooking.
You might be asking, “Isn’t this a lot of wasted time up front?” You’re eager to turn up the heat, not to gather and prep. But the time spent preparing to cook will make the cooking smoother and the finished dish better. Who among us hasn’t finished a recipe and realized they’d left out the splash or smidgen of something. At that point, it’s too late and all you can do is hope. Hope is a decent drop-back strategy but makes for a lousy first line of defense.
So even if cooking isn’t your thing, mise en place is still a very useful technique for bettering your nest. It works in the sock drawer and the desk drawer. It’s at home behind closet and pantry doors. Papers, keys, and phone charger are all happy to submit to it. And this humble technique can save the day by saving a few minutes here and there. Those minutes add up to hours and hours become days. So much for “wasted” up front time!
Fewer frantic, fruitless searches save not only time, but sanity as well. Most of us are happier and less stressed knowing where our things are. The time spent preparing a home for your things will be repaid handsomely. Time waits for no one. The piper cometh! Pay me now or pay me later. You decide.
Mise en place is really behavior management and when you manage your behavior, your time falls right into place. Your things don’t have minds of their own. They are very amenable to living where you tell them to live. Assign them a home and then remember their address. As with most real estate matters, it’s location, location, location.
Do you have too many things to provide a decent home for all of them? Be honest. You know if you do. And not even an engineer or professional organizer can make that work. Your stuff has to have a bit of breathing room. Things you use frequently need to be at the ready. Things that play seasonal or occasional roles can be stored accordingly. Put things where they make sense to you.
“Misorganization” (my word only) Noun. Put together in a way that misses the mark; wrongly organized. For example, when everything is in a place but the place is still unknown and inaccessible to things’ owner. So mise en place is not just a place for everything but everything in the right place.