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Work Clean: The life-changing power of mise-en-place to organize your life, work, and mind Hardcover – May 3, 2016
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--Chef Marcus Samuelsson
“A distinctive and fascinating read! Work Clean shares the skills used by chefs to help you manage your time and resources to effectively get the most out of life.”
--Chef Alfred Portale
“The concept of mise-en-place can seem stoic or robotic even, but Dan Charnas has revealed otherwise in Work Clean. It is a means to completing successfully what is right in front of us - whether in or out of the kitchen - through consideration and action.”
--Chef Sam Henderson
"Systems and organization have always been a key to my success in the food service industry. Work Clean uses excellent examples to explain the necessity of structure as the foundation for not only restaurants but everyday life as well.”
--Chef Marc Djozlija
“Dan Charnas writes informatively about the sometimes unglamorous, yet undeniably crucial role of organization in our kitchens and our lives, with clever wit and eloquence. Work Clean should be required reading for all aspiring chefs.”--Chef Rob Halpern
“In Work Clean, Dan Charnas outlines a valuable parallel between the systems used to organize a busy kitchen and the ways we organize our everyday lives. As a chef, I know all too well the importance of preparation, planning, and working clean. Charnas describes how applying these principles of mise-en-place to tasks outside of the kitchen can improve efficiency and quality of work, and ultimately, quality of life.”
—Chef Eric Ripert
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Here's the deal:
If you're frustrated with the lack of progress you're making towards goals in your life, but you think you've tried it all using the GTD workflow, habit apps, or "time blocking", then I urge you to give this book a try. I've been frustrated with all of those methods.
GTD workflow and apps had me ticking off lots of little tasks but not making any real progress with my big goals. Habit apps are great, but predictable and daily habits like exercising or drinking water don't contribute to big and unpredictable goals related to business and your career. "Scripting your day" or "time blocking" CAN be great if you've already competent and clear on what you should be doing and how long it takes and have minimal distractions; however that's not a complete and holistic system in and of itself. Every time I've tried scripting my day it was a failure either because the time blocks were too specific, too vague, or to ill-prepared in advance.
This book helps you reconcile all of these different problems. "Working clean" isn't just a productivity system. It's a philosophy and approach to being effective that includes rules, sequencing, habits, and systems that bring clarity and flow to your work. It stops me from running around in a blind panic ticking off menial tasks OR following an unrealistic schedule. Both of these behaviors always made me feel miserable at the end of the day when I realised I had made no real progress on anything of big importance.
I strongly recommend you give the book a try if you've had similar challenges in your work.
Work clean also forces one to look at the time all the daily living routines and habits consume. When you allow for (remove) that time from your available time and then map realistic times to complete tasks, it turns out our days are a lot shorter than we thought - which corresponds to our daily confusion about why so little actually got accomplished.
Work Clean offers a number of other insights into managing our time which in aggregate provides a vivid picture of extreme time management. It's not for the faint of heart because mise-en-place is a lot of work, but if your serious about managing your time, the book makes a strong argument working clean is the only way to go.
The first time I read it I was a third of the way into the book and I felt inspired enough to start employing some of the ideas at both my home kitchen and at work.
I think books like "Getting Things Done" are great for listing all of the work/tasks that have to be done but there is very little emphasis on how to prepare for each of those tasks. Here there is a greater emphasis on preparing for tasks as well as how to be more efficient in performing those tasks. It uses the world of the chef to illustrate many of its points It shows, once something is planned and prepared for as well as how the task is efficiently handled, how much more productive one can be.
I'm already into reading it a second time and I plan to read it often again.
Top international reviews
It felt like the author just wanted to write a book, and had to stretch a small idea to fill one.