Focus like a celebrity chef

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What do celebrity chefs know that you don’t? Well, you probably do know about it, but may not have thought about applying it in different areas. 

They spend a lot of time preparing before they work so everything will go more smoothly.

How do you set up your work space so you can stay focused and get things done?  Mise-en-place. 

Do you watch cooking shows? Of course, you do! Working in a tight space under a deadline, a chef has to keep paraphernalia down to a minimum. She needs to set up the work area so that everything she will need is ready and nearby. That’s mise-en-place, French for “putting in place.”  

A New York chef says, ”It’s like a very … Zen-like thing. All my knives are clean. Clean cutting board. Clear space to work. Clear mind.”

It also means that everything that’s not needed for the task at hand is not in the way. You have what you need, and you also don’t have what you don’t need. Unnecessary items just get in the way and distract you. 

Here’s how to get that celebrity chef feeling at home or at your office.

  • Keep your work area spare. lt’s tempting to keep current projects out to remind you of them, but that takes your attention away from the thing you’re working on.

  • Stash your other projects in folders in a file holder on your desk. That way they’re within reach but out of sight. Keep them out of your current work area on the desk
  • Look out the window if you need a break, rather than reading email. Whatever your view; street, trees, buildings, sky; it’s visually engaging but not mentally distracting.
  • No window? Put inspiring pictures and photographs on the wall. Serene images in colors that are soothing and uplifting occupy your visual attention and refreshing.
  • Keep a small notepad (physical or digital) for thoughts that pop into your head while you’re working. Distractible, creative types have lots of these thoughts. Jot your ideas down so they won’t be forgotten and you won’t feel the need to act on them immediately.
  • Doodle. Like looking out the window, this is a great way to switch mental gears for a bit. Moving your hand on paper without writing words engages a different part of your brain and can spur insights as well.
  • Let music set the mood. Classical music is the classic choice to aid concentration, but other types work as well. Most people prefer music without lyrics to distract them, unless they’re in a language they don’t speak.