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Work Clean: The life-changing power of mise-en-place to organize your life, work, and mind

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  667 ratings  ·  102 reviews
The first organizational book inspired by the culinary world, taking mise-en-place outside the kitchen.

Every day, chefs across the globe churn out enormous amounts of high-quality work with efficiency using a system called mise-en-place—a French culinary term that means “putting in place” and signifies an entire lifestyle of readiness and engagement. In Work Clean, Dan Cha
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Rodale Books
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4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  667 ratings  ·  102 reviews

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Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I’m looking to apply for a new position with my current employer and I wanted to brush up on my organizational skills. Very helpful and I learned a thing or two. : )
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the interested in organising and time management, with some interest in kitchen world
This is a book about making life more organised and stress-free, with time-management involved too. It uses the mise-en-place organisation way of chefs, put in non-kitchen world, to help us focus and maintain self-discipline, to manage our life when several things to do happen at once, when one should be able to balance work and home, and manage one's time well.

The book is dotted with life situations of the world of chefs, gathered through inteviews, giving us examples as the book flows on. The
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you have a job, a goal, or a dream, you need to read this. If you are chronically late, overwhelmed, or stuck, you need to read this. If you want to improve in any way, you need to read this.
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am so pleased that I received this book as a Giveaway from the author. I only wish I had had the opportunity to read it decades ago. "Work Clean" uses the chef's philosophy of mise-en-place (pronounced as 'mee's on plahhs') as a metaphor for organizing and elevating one's work, family/home and inner self's life through organization.

I had never heard of mise-en-place until two years ago when I was watching a cooking show on the Food Network. One of the famous chefs on the network (it was Ann B
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-read
I was so excited to receive a copy of this book from Goodreads Giveaways! Although I am not in the culinary field, I find it absolutely fascinating. Work Clean looked like the perfect marriage of two of my favorite things: organization and culinary culture.

Overall I was very pleased with the book, and found a lot of practical methods that would apply to my daily workplace organization. At times the author’s explanation of the method was a little heavy, a required a few re-reads to make sense. H
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Almost finished with this book, and I can already tell it will be a re-read. I might even buy a hard copy because it’s that good.

If you’re routinely scattered, discombobulated, or stressed, this book will help. If you’re already super organized and want to fine-tune your skills (sharpen your knife, if you will) then this book is also for you.

Simply put, if you want to be a more efficient and functional human, read this now. #miseenplace
Wendy Ortiz
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audiobook because someone I trust recommended it. I can appreciate the approach & the stories of the making of chefs was interesting. I love reading about cooking & how people approach cooking, so this was appealing throughout the book. Strangely? I’d already incorporated many of these mise en place practices in my work & home life so it was pleasing to focus more on how chefs operate. My critique is the title—setting up that binary of clean vs. dirty isn’t necessar ...more
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Best productivity book I've read. hands down.
Stijn Zanders
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-read-2019
It's great to read about a completely different perspective on organising your work. Professional kitchens are one of the most organised work places and thus there are good concepts coming from them such as call and callback or cleaning as you go. I don't like how all concepts are translated into office work, but I have learned some new practices that I will start using.
Sarah Wessel
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Since the development of shows like Top Chef and Hell's Kitchen, I have become fascinated with the mechanics of restaurants and chef's. This book addresses some of my questions while providing a different way of thinking through or at least talking about time management skills needed by most.
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This book really spoke to me, probably because it jives simultaneously with a lot of my life philosophies & neuroses. Basically, it takes the principles of mise-en-place used by professional chefs & looks at how non-chefs can maybe become more productive/happier by employing them. Some are more applicable than others and I'm not saying I immediately implemented every strategy in the book, but I did spend half a day stripping down my office & getting rid of the stacks of papers & ...more
Mr. Banks
Apr 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-help
I stumbled upon this book while wondering through an airport bookstore in Danang, Vietnam. It was hidden amongst a myriad of business books, autobiographies, and some of the notable classics of self-help (think Thinking Fast and Slow). So here I was, staring at a sleek, clean, and well laid out cover called Work Clean. I read the subtitle and immediately knew that this book was for me.

For the past year I’ve been travelling around the world staying on friend’s coaches, hotels, hostels, airbnbs, a
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, non-fiction
Charnas does an excellent job taking the culinary concept of mise-en-place and applying it towards the workaday world and its tasks. I especially enjoyed the interviews with various chefs, which helped provide a lot of underpinning to the concept, as well as providing a behind-the-scenes look into how professional kitchens are run. There is a lot of useful information, some of which I was able to implement in my own work. I did find the final section, where Charnas compiles all of the ideas from ...more
Sam Spurlin
May 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I've been waiting for a book like this for a long time and it mostly lived up to expectations. The sections near the end where he tries to translate the concept into a cut and dry personal organization/management system (ala GTD) wasn't useful to me and I disagree with some of the key tenets (like putting tasks on the calendar) -- but that's mostly a function of how deep I'm into GTD already. For somebody who does not already have an organizing philosophy or system that may actually be useful. T ...more
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
A fascinating look at the process of mise-en-place in the kitchen and how we non-chefs can apply the techniques to get us organized in our daily lives. Loved the concept of the Daily Meeze. I also appreciated the concept that a project that is 90% done is not done.
Nora Flaherty
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Interesting, concrete and accessible ways to think about organization and time management, based on how chefs organize their work in restaurant kitchens.
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Amazing book. I'm already a fairly organized person with my own nightly rituals for reviewing and planning ahead and morning rituals for updating and scheduling plans into my day. It's the only way to live if I want to get things done. So in that respect, this book was just a validation of sorts.

The elements that I absorbed from it that were new to me were a greater appreciation of my spaces and cleaning as I go. It inspired me to redesign how my painting space is set up, both digitally and phys
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I knew I was going to love a book that helps with organization by drawing on the concept of Mise-en-place and using examples of chefs and restaurant kitchens to show you how to do it. I love books like Making of a Chef and Kitchen Confidential and these books were inspiration for this book about working smart and feeling better about the quality of the work that you do. This book was so much more than a book about organization. It touches on the personal and the spiritual in a way that I found r ...more
Joseph McBee
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I picked up this book I thought it would be the same basic organizational and productivity principles that are in most books of this type only from the Master Chef angle. That would not have been a bad thing, most content of this sort is recycled, but because it presents that content from a fresh angle, it clicks with some people that other books of this type won't.

I think what we have in WORK CLEAN is something truly fresh.

This really is a different way of thinking about organization and
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really like the first two sections of this before the last bit - so probably the first 80% of the book. It's very interesting to hear about how chefs approach their work and I think anyone could definitely take some stuff from those concepts to apply in their own lives. The last bit was like a weird chef-themed Getting Things Done, and you'd be better off reading Getting Things Done really. I want to read the book that explores whether it is really worth being a personal productivity maelstrom ...more
Jan 06, 2019 rated it liked it
A self-help productivity book based on the working of a Kitchen. What a concept!
The key theme presented continuously throughout the book is that of a Mis-en-Place, the concept that everything has a place and that your workstation in life must be kept as clean as possible. This is combined with the idea of a ‘daily Meeze’ – a daily half-hour planning routine where all scheduling is done.
Charnas buttresses these ideas by interviews and anecdotes involving famous/prominent people in the world of U
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Have had a long fascination with the concept of mise-en-place, a French phrase most commonly associated with chefs. Charnas reviews the premises of mise-en-place in a kitchen context and within the domain of the CIA (Culinary Arts Institute of America), but then adapts its ideas to the workplace.

This is about efficiency, accomplishing both short- and long-term goals, pacing, and more. It is fine to adapt this to the workplace, but really it can be part of a person's approach to anything they do,
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bear in mind, I have only read this book once-Kindle version. Goodreads thinks that I read and enjoyed the hardcover version. Can you tell me how to make that go away?

I will have to reread this again. That's what happens when you simply read exercises that I should've been putting into practice. Like most "self-help books," much of the information is similar to what great grandma would've told us. Some of it is mixed in with a little "woo-woo factor." Seriously, I don't need to book an organizat
This book was superbly disappointing. I kept waiting for the author to explain mise-en-place in fuller detail, but unfortunately, it sounds like one would have to actually attend the Culinary Institute of America to get the information. (A shame, because the author did so in order to write this book.)

The audio was so redundant that I kept thinking I'd accidentally skipped back and was re-listening to certain portions. Unfortunately, it seems the book is JUST THAT REPETITIVE. The same concepts--
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book describes the system of mise-en-place (a French and culinary phrase for 'to put things in their place'), which is primarily about how chefs prep for their cooking tasks, but suggests that you can apply principles from mise-en-place to your daily life. It describes what its like to be a student at Culinary Institute of America and is based on interviews with a large number of chefs.

I don't know if it's fundamentally all that different from other productivity books (e.g. plan ahead, be h
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Pretty sure I just stumbled upon the operating manual for my own brain. This is the most actionable productivity book I've ever read, at least for the particular type of project management I do as an environmental consultant. Much of the book is focused on cultivating a "delivery mentality," which is critical if you have many projects on short turnarounds. My favorite bit debunks the tension between fast and good by pointing out that for chefs, excellence is quality delivered. The book gets real ...more
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is based on an interesting observation, which is the fact that culinary school is one of the few places where students are really trained to self-manage tasks in the workplace. Most of us graduate into create and/or fast-paced jobs with little preparation for managing projects, organizing our time, planning and prioritizing tasks, and are left to teach ourselves via stacks of business self-help books (what I like to refer to as "productivity porn"). This slim volume shows how chefs are ...more
Brandon Beard
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very cool book. Written in a way that gets you interested in real life characters then at the end of each chapter there are practical ways to incorporate the principles there within.

The book shines brightest at the end as he takes you through what a day in the life would look like. However, you cannot skip to the end; you wouldn't fully understand.

This was a great how to for anyone that uses a Getting Things Done (GTD) systematic approach. You don't separate work from home, and having a clear mi
Niels Philbert
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an engaging book with an interesting angle on organizing and doing work. I really enjoyed learning more about mise-en-place in kitchens and the details about the work of a chef.

The transferring of the principles to other types of work is a though job. Charnas manages to destill it down to basic, concrete ideas without making the book about (boring) productivity systems.

Read it for the immersion into the culinary world's way of thinking - and enjoy the take aways (pun intended) that you
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Emily by: NPR
Major breakthrough!

This book resolved hurdles of mine: merging a calendar with a task list, balancing time between routines and interruptions, what to do with all those slips of paper, and having multiple "irons in the fire." It's still up to me to act on this and form habits, but I can see now how to proceed.

5 stars because Charnas picked an important topic, told about it in an engaging way, and thoroughly explained how it applies not just in professional kitchens, but in the office, church,
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