“It really is a way of life … it’s a way of concentrating your mind to only focus on the aspects that you need to be working on at that moment, to rid yourself of distractions.”

This is the way Melissa Gray, a senior at the Culinary Institute of America, described mise-en-place, a French expression referring to organization in a kitchen. Yes, I can imagine that a successful restaurant kitchen has to be super organized to be able to deliver the perfect meal at a profit every time but I had no idea kitchen organization was something of a cult. “I know people that have [mise-en-place] tattooed on them,” says Melissa Gray.

Dan Charnas explains in his report for NPR’s Morning Edition that we Americans spend upwards of $10 billion a year on organization tools. I think of the Container Store (an entire retail concept devoted helping us organize our stuff), Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” (which has sold nearly 6-million copies) and the pages of apps that come up when you search “apps to help organize your life”. Yes, organization is big business.

So the concept of mise-en-place is important and, if it can work in a kitchen, it can bring order to our lives in general. It’s easy to see the advantages of an orderly work station, a work station that is so carefully arranged that you could reach for ingredients and kitchen tools blindfolded. The goal is to increase efficiency and reduce stress – to master your universe.

Too often, our finances aren’t organized. We have more checking and savings accounts than we really need, small balance retirement accounts left over from a former employer and miscellaneous investments that seemed like a good idea at the time – each one with a set of usernames and passwords…somewhere. The result is inefficiency and stress – just what mise-en-place works to eliminate.

Although not everyone’s finances can be simple, there is great benefit to simplifying and streamlining as much of our financial life as possible – fewer accounts, automated bill paying , automated transfers to savings and investment accounts, a secure system for passwords, a will and advanced care directives and someone who knows what to do ‘just in case’.

“Mise-en-place” means literally to “put in place”. If you haven’t already, mise-en-place your finances! Streamline and organize to benefit from less stress and greater efficiency.