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

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,418 ratings  ·  201 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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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  1,418 ratings  ·  201 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
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 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
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
Jun 04, 2022 rated it liked it
I didn’t need to read another productivity book but this one at least was framed from a different perspective of chefs. The anecdotes of the different chefs was nice to read about, especially given my recent hobby of cooking
Anusha Shamanur
Oct 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Having always been fascinated by the concept of mise-en-place, I enjoyed reading the interesting anecdotes on how chefs train to practice it and make their lives easier. The power of a chef’s calm and disciplined mind in running a busy kitchen, free of chaos, is paralleled in an entertaining manner with how it can be applied to our daily routines.

If you want to focus more on the exercises to apply mise-en-place at work and other areas of lives, I would recommend reading a physical/digital copy,
Aug 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb. GTD is a start, and the essential principles of that system are captured here. This, instead, is the process flow, philosophy, and proud way to practice any kind of work, anywhere. Primarily story-driven, interspersed with exercises and concluding with integrated system. I have the audio and kindle versions and am adding the paper version. One of the rare books that I want to recommend to just about anyone.
Sep 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Possibly one of the best productivity books I've ever read. ...more
Snorre Lothar von Gohren Edwin
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-possess, audible
It is a great book if you want to understand more about the kitchen. It is a great book if you need elementary introduction to how to work clean and efficient. It is an entertaining book with all its stories. But if you have been doing trying to work clean for some years it is quite repetitive. One nice take away was that one can now have 3 words on how to express this philosophy.
Mise en place.
I keep my work life Mise en place.
I keep my personal life Mise en place.

So everything I write about
Mark Sutherland
Apr 25, 2022 rated it really liked it
The bulk of this book is about the restaurant discipline of mise-en-place, with lots of interviews and stories to illustrate the underlying principles. The back half then attempts to apply these to modern office work and advocates a particular system (in the vein of GTD). He's a little too indulgent of hustle culture and the frankly abusive environment that seems to be the norm of many kitchens. Overall this is excellent food for thought when it comes to evaluating your own work systems but I'm ...more
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 & books that tend ...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
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
Aug 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: repeatable
Still my favorite productivity book.
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Best productivity book I've read. hands down. ...more
Scott Wozniak
Jan 15, 2022 rated it really liked it
This book is about the methodology of fine dining chefs--not the food, but the kitchen arrangement, sequencing of the tasks, precise communication among the team, cleaning as you go, etc. It's a beautiful mix of a model for us to use in the rest of life and an homage to some of the great chefs of our time.

The stories are interesting and the examples are very specific. Then he even goes through and applies these principles back to the life of a typical office worker. At the heart of the method i
Jul 23, 2022 rated it did not like it
This book took me MONTHS to finish. I'm generally not a fan of self-help/motivation books, but every once in a while I'll give in, just to stay open minded. But I truly loathed every page of this. Peppered with stupid mantras like "The first move is always figuring out the first move," pointless exercises to sort your to-dos into "missions", case studies with random chefs, and advice that is general AF (See: spend the first thirty mins of your day reading your emails and going over your daily sc ...more
Oct 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Great writing. The juxtaposition of the furious pace of a commercial kitchen with the serenity and clarity of those involved is an endless source of fascination to me. Worth it for the culinary ethnography alone. The takeaways are fine; not anything you would not find in Stephen Covey, David Allen. But the animating spirit of mise-en-place is worth the read even for those without culinary inclinations.
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. ...more
Nov 29, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a particularly fun read for me as someone interested both in cooking and in productivity.
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. ...more
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
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
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
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The advice was well-explained and clearly & briefly laid out at the end of each section, and the illustrative stories were more entertaining than they tend to be in books like these. I'm fairly well organized, these days, and I still learned quite a bit. I liked it a lot, and I'd recommend it to any young person getting ready to head out on their own. ...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.
Josh Hamacher
An interesting take on personal organization, but nothing you haven't heard before. Some of the analogies were very, very strained. Personally, I enjoyed the vignettes about actual chefs more than the "real" content. ...more
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.
Austin Meyer
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really good advice overall, but I disagree with some of the small stuff (e.g. he says you should check social media during small breaks)
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
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Dan Charnas is the author of the definitive history of the hip-hop business, The Big Payback (NAL/Penguin). He’s also the author of Work Clean (Rodale/Harmony), a book detailing applying chefs’ techniques to almost any life situation. He was also the co-creator and executive producer of the VH1 movie and TV series, The Breaks. He lives in Manhattan, and is an associate professor at NYU/Tisch’s Cli ...more

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