In the corporate setting, the one thing necessary is the most important office task of the day that when we get to do it, we could say that our day was purposeful and meaningful. Prioritizing and accomplishing the important tasks of the day is one of the main ingredients in time management.
We tend to associate being busy as a sign of being productive. Usually when we are asked, “How’s your work going?” we tend to reply “busy”. But being busy does not mean we did something meaningful. When asked, “How was your work week?” We should be able to recall a series of significant accomplishments that made our week purposeful.
It needs a change in mindset to achieve this. We need to look at our daily to-do list and according to Gary Keller, the author of the book, “The One Thing” we need to ask the question “What ONE thing can I do, that if I get to do it makes everything else easier or unnecessary?” As a teacher there are days that the one thing necessary for me is to finish checking the quizzes of my students. I find this crucial and important because it unburdens me with a task that seems not urgent but if delayed could spell trouble to my other activities for the rest of the month. On other days, my one thing necessary would be finishing a news article such as this. Once done and submitted to the publisher, I could say my day was quite meaningful. Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke once said: “The things which are most important don’t always scream the loudest.” We need to get into the habit of finding and accomplishing that one important task of the day and attach a meaningful label into it. If we get to do that on a regular basis, our daily tasks would become more productive and satisfying. Byron Katie, the author of the book “Loving What Is” says, “We never receive more than we can handle, and there is always just one thing to do.”
The origin of the phrase, “the one thing necessary” is taken from the Gospel of St. Luke when Martha complained to our Lord that her sister Mary is not helping her with the food preparations but was just sitting listening to Him giving a sermon (Lk 10:41-42). Christ said to Martha, “Martha, Martha you are worried and upset about many things but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken away from her.” What is this one thing necessary Christ was referring to? It seems to be a simple question but is actually deep and profound because it asks about the meaning and purpose of our life here on earth.
We who are also worried and anxious about the many concerns in our lives like Martha should follow our Lord’s advice so as to put order, peace and meaning into it. What was Mary doing that we should learn from her? Mary was listening and conversing with our Lord. In short, Mary was praying. True prayer is all about knowing what God wants from us and then doing it. Instead of asking ourselves what can I do to please my self today, we should ask our Lord: “What can I do for you today?” Spiritual writers would say this is the essence of the spiritual life. Knowing God’s will and doing it. St. Isidore of Seville said, “The whole science of the saints consists in knowing and following the will of God.” That’s why theologians would conclude that the “one thing necessary” in this life so as to achieve our meaning and purpose is to become a saint. You can know more about this “one thing necessary” by reading my book, “The Purpose of Our Life is to Become a Saint”.