My digital ‘mise en place’ for venture capital. How I keep the plates spinning.

The system managing my work in venture capital needs to start with the assumption that most days will be a chaos of unexpected activity.

Because of this, I am slightly obsessed with optimising my tools to be ready.

When I find myself blocked or spending too long on something repeatedly, it is time to optimise.

When the system fails, tasks back up and get lost, there is no time to think, and I let people down.

The six design goals of my system

Chefs have developed a concept of mise en place (which means “everything in its place”) to describe their preparation and process. This is what I try to achieve with my digital mise en place.

  1. 10-second action: Minimal overhead created by the system. No matter where I am.
  2. Anti-fragile: The system should get more robust as it is ‘attacked’.
  3. Trust: Know that when something is captured, it will never be lost until the loop is closed.
  4. Guaranteed standard: It should get me to ‘quite good’ execution every time when I run a process. Then any extra effort is striving for excellence.
  5. Automation: If it can be automated, do it. Remove waste.
  6. Asynchronous first: If I can help quickly via writing, do that. It is much easier than finding time for a meeting.

The three tools I rely on

We use many tools in the firm for team collaboration like Slack, Affinity, and Notion.

The following are the tools I rely on to build my personal system and keep the plates spinning according to the goals above.

  1. Super Human: it is as good as people say. Even though it is ‘just a UI layer on top of Gmail’, I ALWAYS end the day with inbox-zero. In one action, I can unsubscribe from spam, use a snippet to start an email with a framework that is effective, or move something to a point in the future when I am in a better context to action it. Get it.
  2. Roam Research: this is my ‘tool for thought’ where I offload brain cycles to be recalled when I need them. I can capture an action instantly by speaking into my watch and my whole day runs on rails thanks to the smart blocks scripting system. Get it.
  3. Calendly: I don’t want an assistant, and I don’t want to spend two weeks and five emails trying to find a time to meet someone. I send one of a collection of links that quickly slot them into my schedule according to availability and context. Get it.

I will share some specifics about how I use these tools in the coming week so follow me if you want to learn more. I am @philmorle on Twitter.


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Deep tech VC — Main Sequence Ventures. Ecosystem builder. Maker. Director. Startup Scientist.

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Phil Morle

Phil Morle

Deep tech VC — Main Sequence Ventures. Ecosystem builder. Maker. Director. Startup Scientist.

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