There is a connection between good manners and being organized. Everything tends to run more smoothly when we are considerate, polite and respectful of the unwritten social contract we have with each other.

Someone with impeccable manners will never cancel last minute—or really at all once a commitment has been made—unless there’s a death in the family, they are truly ill or there is some other authentic emergency. This prevents a lot of rescheduling and organizing hassles, whether it is a business meeting or a social lunch date.

Someone with impeccable manners will be punctual as well as considerate of another person’s time. This means knowing when to leave a dinner party. It means knowing when to let another person have a turn to speak. It means not taking more than a reasonable portion of everything and never over drinking.

A thoughtful party guest will offer to bring something or help and most hosts will take them up on the offer. I love being asked but my closest friends know that I detest potlucks. When I have people over, I provide the whole meal. So, when I go somewhere, I don’t want to be obligated to cook or shop and transport something other than a small gift for the host. As a minimalist, I own zero Tupperware and only a few glass containers for leftovers—somewhat heavy, breakable and not really meant for traveling.

Being patient is such a big part of natural good manners and is a characteristic I’m constantly working toward. Patience leads to efficiency at least as often as rushing and pushing to make things happen. Rushing can cause accidents, stubbed toes, speeding tickets, hurt feelings and missed opportunities that require time and resources to deal with later.

The other day I was at the Social Security office—talk about a place that requires patience. I noticed people taking appointment tickets, sitting down, and after a few minutes of not having their number called, leaving. If they would have only waited another fifteen minutes, they could have seen a clerk and had their issue resolved or question answered. After all, they had already committed time and energy to getting there and would have to eventually commit more time and energy to going back. Even a half hour wait would have been worth not making two trips.

Listening with focused attention is also good manners and helps with organization in a big way. How much time do we save when we don’t have to have someone repeat themselves? Have you ever been distracted when your employer was explaining a project to you and later panicked, trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do? Obviously, I have! It is no fun to have to go back and admit you weren’t really listening or didn’t think to ask questions because you were distracted. It damages your reputation and relationships—not fatally perhaps, but little cracks start to form that lead to problems down the road.

I don’t think you can have truly good manners without empathy. We all know people who know which fork to use and what a fish knife looks like yet don’t have good manners when it comes to treating others with respect and kindness.

When you’re having guests, are you considerate as to having enough lighting around the entry to your home so that they can clearly see your house number and the path to the front door?

If you want the other people living in your household to put things in the proper places, do you consider how you might make that easier? Is there a place for keys, for shoes, for bags? Are the cupboards so stuffed full that it is difficult to put anything away? If order is your priority, and maybe not as important to other people in the house, it is your responsibility to make it almost as effortless to put something away as it would be to toss it in a corner.

That said, if the family has put emphasis on good manners, there will be a habit of consideration for each other that contributes to keeping the house clean and tidy. When we are considerate, we put the cap back on the toothpaste and replace the empty roll of toilet paper.