Let’s face it- we’re all busy. Whether it’s your job, your business, or kids- we all want to get more done in less time.
And that exactly is the definition of productivity- increasing the amount of outputs in a specific set of time.
But remember- there are two sides to every coin. Productivity may be one side, but prioritizing the tasks you accomplish makes up the other side.
So if you’re waking up and need a bit of inspiration to get moving, here is my personal, curated list of productivity quotes I’ve collected over the years that I’ve found particularly impactful.
This is not meant to be a giant, all-inclusive list, but a deeply impactful one that I hope you’ll gain at least some inspiration from as I have.
10 Top Productivity Quotes
Here are my top ten favorite quotes I often resort back to when I need to get myself back into the right mindset. If you’re struggling, I recommend keeping a few of these in your phone to easily refer to.
On The Tasks You Complete
“Write down the three to five things and no more that are making you most anxious or uncomfortable…. For each of these items, ask yourself, if this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?”
– Tim Ferriss, Author of the 4-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss Show Episode 13
Take Home: The importance of the tasks you complete is just as important as the number of tasks you complete.
Thoughts on Digital Distractions
“Most people start the day by checking email, texts, and social media. And most people struggle to be successful. It’s not a coincidence.”
– Hal Elrod, Author of The Miracle Morning
Take Home: Go on do-not-disturb mode during your peak productivity time.
On Analysis Paralysis
“It is easy to get bogged down trying to find the optimal plan for change: the fastest way to lose weight, the best program to build muscle, the perfect idea for a side hustle. We are so focused on figuring out the best approach that we never get around to taking action.“
– James Clear, Author of Atomic Habits
Take Home: Stop over-analyzing. Explore your options, make a decision, and then take action without looking back.
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot”
– Michael Altshuler, Serial Entrepreneur and Performance Coach
Take Home: Take control of your time by spending it on appropriate tasks.
“There are seven days in a week, and someday isn’t one of them.“
– Benny Lewis, Author of Fluent in 3 Months
Take Home: Get started on that idea today, not tomorrow.
“You are better off trying something and having it not work and learning from that than not doing anything at all.”
– Mark Zuckerberg, Founder of FaceBook
Take Home: It’s quicker to learn from failure.
About Doing Everything At Once
“I am a believer in, nothing big gets done all at once, and there’s no point in being anxious about trying to do everything.”
– Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States
Take Home: Increased productivity comes from taking one step at a time. Focus on the step you’re on.
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
– Stephen Covey, Author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Take Home: Make sure your daily schedule is dedicated to tasks that will drive the needle the most.
About Always Being Busy
“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”
– Socrates, Greek Philisopher
Take Home: Being busy is not the same as being productive
Twenty percent of your efforts or work produce 80% of your results
– The Pareto Rule
Take Home: When being productive, remember to take a step back and determine the results your after, and what actions are leading to the majority of those results.
5 Actionable Productivity Quotes
If you need some productivity quotes to inspire action or help you remember how to stay on task, I found these ones helpful.
“Juggling, multitasking, and other forms of “attention shifting” are highly inefficient. Simply, the brain works much faster and more accurately when attention is focused, for a stretch of time, on one thing at a time.“
– Harvard Business Review
Take Home: No one can 100% concentrate on two tasks simultaneously. Do one at a time, check it off, and move on to the next to be more productive.
On Ping Interruptions
“Each task switch might waste only 1/10th of a second, it can add up to a 40% productivity loss if you do lots of switching in a day.”
Take Home: When you’re engaged in deep work, turn your phone off, delete those extra Chrome tabs, and do everything you can to eliminate any possible interruptions. A single ping from social media notifications or your email is enough to completely ruin your zone.
Are You Just Avoiding Action?
“Thinking too much leads to paralysis by analysis. It’s important to think things through, but many use thinking as a means of avoiding action.”
– Robert Herjavec, Businessman, Shark Tank Investor, Entrepreneur
Take Home: Stop blaming perfectionism on the reason why you’re not fully productive. Stop thinking, and start doing.
“Productivity is never an accident. It’s always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”
-Paul J. Meyer
Take Home: Plan your day ahead of time in an intelligent way, and then stick to that plan. Don’t spend more time planning than doing.
Meetings- Don’t Do Them
“The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings.”
-Thomas Sowell, American Economist
Take Home: We all know meetings are mostly a waste of time. Don’t think checking off a list of six meetings that day meant you were productive. Odds are, if you attended six meetings in one workday, you were actually underwhelmingly productive.
Productivity Quotes From Successful Entrepreneurs
Advice is only as good as the source. Here are some great productivity quotes from entrepreneurs that have been able to achieve massive success throughout their lifetimes.
Quality vs. Quantity of Tasks
“It’s all about new techniques, simplifying old techniques, and consolidating steps. Making things go faster, but not worse.”
– Martha Stewart
Take Home: Always look at how you can make a process better than before, but make sure streamlining your systems doesn’t lead to lesser quality outcomes.
Not Just Talent
“Persistence overshadows even talent as the most valuable resource shaping the quality of life.“
– Tony Robbins
Take Home: You can be the most talented person in the world, but if you’re not productive with that talent it’s useless. The person who perseveres every single day will be the one who succeeds.
Small Tasks or Big Tasks?
“The short successes that can be gained in a brief time and without difficulty, are not worth much.”
– Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Companies
Take Home: While accomplishing a bunch of little tasks can feel extremely rewarding, it’s not what’s going to make the major impact in the long run.
Lesson on Perseverance
“I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
– Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple
Take Home: Half the battle is showing up.
The Value of Saying No
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.“
– Warren Buffet, American Financial Guru
Take Home: The rate-limiting step in productivity is time, and we all have the same amount of it. Say no to things that don’t provide value to you to maximize productivity in the right things.
Productivity Quotes From Celebrities & Historical Figures
Some of these are oldies, but goodies. Starting with my next favorite one (see this YouTube video for the full effect).
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”
– Bruce Lee, Martial Artist & Actor
Take Home: Stop thinking so much about it. The only way you will know is by doing.
“Sometimes, things may not go your way, but the EFFORT should be there every single night.”
– Michael Jordan, NBA Player and Entrepreneur
Take Home: At the end of the day, you want to be able to say that you tried everything you could with the information you had at the time.
Domino Effect of Massive Action
“Take massive action to become productive.”
– Tony Robbins, Author and Coach
Take Home: Massive is the keyword. If you take MASSIVE action, you can learn about mistakes earlier and correct them. You can see what efforts lead to better results and fine-tune the system earlier than later. It’s a domino effect.
Again, One Thing At A Time
“The shorter way to do many things is to only do one thing at a time.”
– Mozart, Composer
Take Home: You get the point. Ordinary people can do this, you don’t have to be Mozart.
Ignore the Noise
“The shorter way to do “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”
– Winston Churchill, UK Prime Minister
Take Home: Stay focused on the task or goal at hand. You’ll have a ton of things that will make you want to pause like critics, shiny new object syndrome, or a momentary wave of confidence. Keep plowing through the noise.
Know Your Direction
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
– Benjamin Franklin, Inventor
Take Home: You can be productive but in the wrong thing. Plan effectively to be productive in the right places. Poor planning leads to poor productivity.
Have The Right Productivity Tools
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.“
– Abraham Lincoln, United States President
Take Home: Sometimes, you need to take a step back and look at why the systems you have in place aren’t helping you be productive. Take some time and perfect these systems so that you have the foundation to achieve your best work.
Get Busy Living
“It’s not enough to be busy. The question is, what are we busy about?”
– Henry David Thoreau, American Naturalist
Take Home: Always keep in mind your end goal, and you’ll find improved productivity growth.
Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS)
“Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.”
– Coco Chanel, Fashion Icon
Take Home: To be productive is to simplify as much as you can, which can actually be much more difficult than keeping tasks complex. We don’t want to spend too much brain power on mental tasks if we don’t have to.
Never Giving Up
“It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.“
– Albert Einstein, Theoretical Physicist
Take Home: You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to solve a problem. You have to be the person willing to test, fail, and keep retesting to find the best solution to it.
Is It Motion?
“Never mistake motion for action.”
– Ernest Hemingway, Author
Take Home: Moving (keeping busy) and being productive are not the same thing. Don’t confuse the two.
This Isn’t Amateur Hour
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
– Stephen King, Author
Take Home: Ideas and answers won’t just “come” to you. You need to take action productively, and you’ll notice how conveniently inspiration finds you along the way.
Impact of Positivity
“The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.”
– Tom Peters, American Writer and Businessman
Take Home: Be more positive in your actions, rather than negative. You’ll find your productivity will move much further.
“I’d rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.”
– George Burns, Comedian and Actor
Take Home: If you’re passionate and love what you do, you’re going to be so much more productive than anything else.
Productivity Ideas Wrap-Up
If you’ve made it this far, here’s some last piece of wisdom to pass along. There really are just three main ingredients:
Here are some simple rules I follow for myself to be my most productive self:
- Turn off all push notifications on social media.
- Do not read any emails until the afternoon. This one can be really tough, but emails are a productivity killer. Don’t even have it up on your computer screens.
- Don’t try and tackle multiple tasks at once, just focus on one task until its completed before moving on.
- At the end of the day when you’re brain is spent, use that time to analyze your work. Decide what was the most important thing you did that day and determine what the most important thing you need to do for tomorrow is. Then do mind-numbing tasks like responding to emails or necessary meetings.
- Plan ahead. I like to look at my week on Sundays, and my months at the beginning to determine what I am going to achieve for that timeframe. Having a directed focus for the week or month will set you up for success. This really helps with my work-life integration.
If you found this list helpful, there are a ton of productivity tools like digital planners to help you organize your life. And now, it’s time to stop spending time reading about productivity, and start improving productivity now by getting to work.
Remember, spending too much time Googling about productivity hacks or tips is just another poor time management skill and excuse for getting the real work done!