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Some of us squeeze toothpaste from the middle, and some squeeze it from the bottom. Bottom squeezers would like the world to follow their example; but middle squeezers argue that such obsession with order infringes on their spontaneous individuality.

If it was just a matter of bottom squeezers having to occasionally press out wrinkles caused by the middle squeezers, it would not be all that important. But habits in one area often reflect themselves in other areas; and middle squeezing could relate to other problems. Someone has to remove forks and spoons from between stacks of dirty plates, scrape the last of the peanut butter from the jar, and just generally work around others who grab the best bits and who only do the easy tasks.

If you find yourself taking the best and leaving the scraps for others (something that happens far more often when people are living in community like ourselves and sharing everything from towels to push-bikes), then you may need to consider the spiritual benefits of straightening up (e.g. squeezing from the bottom) after others occasionally instead of always leaving others to pick up after you.

The Bible says, "Let everything be done decently and in order." (1 Corinthians 14:40) Little things like having a place for scissors and a place for towels and a place for pens, and always putting them in their place, definitely make life easier for those who come after you.

The Methodists received their name because they were noted for being methodical in everything that they did. Today there is widespread paranoia of schedules and conformity; but textbooks on business management still teach that things like budgets, desk calendars, meeting agendas, etc. are some of the most important steps toward running an efficient business.

A good leader learns to delegate tasks to subordinates. But you cannot delegate tasks which only you can understand. The more that you can organise tasks into simple, clear-cut responsibilities which can be quickly understood by anyone attempting them, the more you can delegate them with confidence that they will be carried out, and the more contented will be those to whom you delegate them.

The much-maligned assembly line is an example of this. Despite the problems associated with repetitive tasks, most workers prefer jobs which have objectively measurable expectations associated with them; and assembly lines are often like this.

An overly broad list of responsibilities without clear guidelines as to how they should be carried out only causes confusion. Even executives often give in to the temptation to do such simple jobs, simply because they are simple (and thus more enjoyable), rather than delegating them to subordinates.

Turning all your currency to face in the same direction in the cash box or in your wallet, with small notes on the top and big ones on the bottom, may take more effort than just stuffing all the money into a jar; but when it comes time to tally up (or to make change quickly) the benefits become obvious.

In the same way, neat financial records, a tidy desk, clear notes on business meetings, and an up-to-date bulletin board all make life easier for yourself as well as for those around you.

It may be harder to see the point in having a tidy bedroom or garden, socks hanging together on the clothes line, or matching chairs in the lounge room; but even these kind of details add something to the well-being of people entering your premises. They sense a spirit of order even when they cannot put a name to it.

"Babylon' means confusion. We hope to replace Babylon with the tranquillity of the kingdom of heaven. Many who visit us are in a state of confusion. They live lives of quiet desperation. In the midst of their spiritual anarchy we can offer a haven of peace that comes from doing every little task "decently and in order".. even down to how we squeeze our toothpaste!

(See also Anarchy and Pacifism, and Job Lists, Budgets and Schedules.)

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