Monday, May 31, 2010

From the Source: Get Organized, Get Manners

I have found that being organized can pertain to just about every aspect of your life including having good manners. Yes, even having good manners requires a bit of planning. At Buttoned Up, we help busy people get sanely organized by giving them tips and tricks for staying a few steps ahead of the chaos. This can certainly apply to planning to have good manners. Here are 5 of our favorite tips for doing just that:

1. Ditch Perfection. The pursuit of perfection takes a superhuman effort to achieve and a superhuman effort to maintain. This is no less true when it comes to having exceptional manners. That being said, you should not expect yourself to always be perfect. Figure out what is important to you about manners and focus on that, and accept that the other areas may not always be perfect. For me, being on time, remember to say and show appreciation, and good table manners are the areas that are most important to me.

2. Remember To Show Appreciation. Showing appreciation is a simple way to show people you recognize what they have done for you. Think about having hostess gifts on hand so they are at the ready if you have somewhere to go. Bottles of wine are always a good option. Make it easy by planning ahead and you do not even have to think about it.

3. Notes At The Ready. Thank you notes are such a quick and easy thing to do to show your good manners. Kids as young as 5 can start to send out thank you notes (even photos) to show appreciation for gifts they receive. A quick way to prepare for this is to have notes and stamps on hand and easily accessible. If they are there, you will use them.

4. Teach The Kids. I have an eight year old, Lucy, so this tips is especially near and dear to my heart. You can never start too early teaching your kids basic manners. It is really all about repetition and by telling them over and over again pretty soon, manners become second nature. A few of the ones I like to focus on: (a) Saying please & thank you; (b) How to properly meet someone; (c) Basic table manners and etiquette; and (d) Writing a proper thank you note.

5. Time Management. Finally, a bit of time management means you will have the time to make good manners a priority. This can be helpful in many ways:
a. Are you someone who is often late? That doesn’t show good manners. Instead plan on your calendar to be at things 15 minutes early. You will then get there on time.
b. Are you inconsiderate because you forget birthdays, important dates? Plan them in your calendar and set up as reoccurring events so that you remember each year. Even have a reminder set up 3 days before so you know something is coming up.

Planning and organizing to have good manners does not have to be a chore. As a matter of fact, it can give you peace of mind and relieve stress. Give it a try. It is quite easy to do! Below are three more ways organization can impact your manners.

Having good manners actually requires a bit of organization. Can you think of a couple of circumstances where this is most evident?
BU: Good manners do require organization. If you plan ahead when you go someone’s house so you bring a hostess gift, that takes organization. When you write thank you notes for gifts you receive, that takes time management and organization.

BHM: Do you think people who are unorganized make a bad impression?
BU: People who are unorganized can come across as not caring and not thinking of others. This is not necessarily warranted but if you forget to thank people for things they do for you, if you are late for appointments because you are not good at time management, people will most like attribute that to the person just not being thoughtful or respectful. A little organization can make sure that does not happen.

BHM: What is the difference between unorganized and disorganized and does one have a stronger, negative connotation than the other?
BU: Being disorganized is about “destroying or disrupting the organization of something” while unorganized is about “not acting or thinking in an orderly manner.” I believe, disorganized is a more negative term because it implies the act of not being organized is more of a deliberate choice (e.g. I won’t make the time or effort to get organized) vs. just a character trait (e.g. I just can’t seem to make my brain get organized.). That being said, neither is great and both are avoidable.

Alicia Rockmore is one of the co-founders of Buttoned Up, Inc. (twitter: @getbuttonedup), a company dedicated to helping stretched and stressed women get themselves organized. For inquiries contact: or visit

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