From Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential:
Mise-en-place is the religion of all good line cooks. Do not fuck with a line cook’s ‘meez’ — meaning his setup, his carefully arranged supplies of sea salt, rough-cracked pepper, softened butter, cooking oil, wine, backups, and so on.
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 up the way you like it: you know where to find everything with your eyes closed, everything you need during the course of the shift is at the ready at arm’s reach, your defenses are deployed.
Mise-en-place is not just for cooks – one thing I’ve learned working remotely for almost two years is that if my meez is thrown off, or I let it get thrown into disarray during my workday, it disrupts my flow and makes my whole day a bit more stressful. Keeping things in order, digitally, is just as important as the physical space in the kitchen.
For me, that means being vigilant about my desktop usage – I use three desktop spaces on my Mac at all times. One for communication, where Slack, Skype, and other tools like that hang out. The middle desktop is where the work happens – and only The Work. If I am digging through an analytics report, or posting on an internal blog, or talking with our customers, that’s all I’m doing. I know that if I want to check Facebook, or Slack, or whatever else, I’d have to swipe to the third desktop – and that piece of mental friction helps keep me focused.
The third desktop, that’s for Rdio and anything else that’s not communication or The Work. Twitter, feedly, that sort of thing.
I’ll admit it – sometimes I’ll open Hacker News, or Quora, or Rock Paper Shotgun in my work Desktop – and it throws me off every time. It isn’t a distraction, it’s pollution. It’s as though I’ve mixed up the tomato bin with the sliced cucumbers – it throws me off and creates a hitch in my step.
Think about your meez – take it seriously. Staying focused and staying organized can be the difference between success and stress – at least if you’re an insane person like me.