43 Productivity Quotes that Will Inspire You to Get Things Done

best productivity quotes
There never seems to be enough time.

Items keep getting tacked on to the end of your to-do list. Fires pop up and need to be put out. When you do have a moment to yourself, there are distractions everywhere.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the things you need to do. It’s easy to feel like there are a ton of options and opportunities in front of you – but not enough time to pursue them all.

Sometimes it feels like you just need a little inspiration.

Here are 43 of the best productivity quotes – from modern masters like Warren Buffet and ancient ones like Aristotle – that will inspire you to get things done.

43 Best productivity quotes to inspire you

1. “I feel like a lot of people in Silicon Valley serialize their lives. They think, “First I’ll do college. Then I’ll do a startup. Then I’ll make money. Then I’ll do X.” There’s some truth in that [approach], but most of the most important stuff has to be parallel-processed, like your relationships and your health, because you can’t make up the time by doing more of it later.” – Ben Silbermann

2. “A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over, beginning with a working simple system.” – John Gall

3. “While people often say there’s not enough time, remember that you’ll always have less attention than time.” – Jason Fried

4. “Most see excellence as some grand aspiration. Wrong. Dead wrong. My two cents: Excellence is the next five minutes or nothing at all. It’s the quality of your next five-minute conversation. It’s the quality of, yes, your next email. Forget the long term. Make the next five minutes rock!” – Tom Peters

5. “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” – Stephen King

6. “Embrace the ambiguity and contradictions that life invariably will bring, and develop habits—exercise, talking with friends, writing—that help you do so. Don’t spend time chasing a right answer or a right path, but instead spend time defining how you are going to approach whatever path you choose. What values most define you? What questions do you want to pursue?” – Laura Walker

7. “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” – Bill Gates

8. “You don’t actually do a project; you can only do action steps related to it. When enough of the right action steps have been taken, some situation will have been created that matches your initial picture of the outcome closely enough that you can call it ‘done.’” – David Allen

9. “Happen to things, don’t let things happen to you.” – Stephen Covey

10. “Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.” – Dale Carnegie

11. “Sometimes the biggest gain in productive energy will come from cleaning the cobwebs, dealing with old business, and clearing the desks—cutting loose debris that’s impeding forward motion.” – David Allen

12. “It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau

13. “Macro patience. Micro speed” – Gary Vaynerchuk

14. “Position yourself to succeed by doing the other things in your life that rejuvenate you. Exhaustion affects your quality and productivity.” – Jeff VanderMeer

15. “Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” – Warren Buffett

16. “Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.” – Leo Babauta

17. “One of the great challenges of our age, in which the tools of our productivity are also the tools of our leisure, is to figure out how to make more useful those moments of procrastination when we’re idling in front of our computer screens.” – Joshua Foer

18. “Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.” – Thomas Edison

19. “No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.” – Warren Buffett

20. “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates

21. “All our productivity, leverage, and insight comes from being part of a community, not apart from it. The goal, I think, is to figure out how to become more dependent, not less.” – Seth Godin

22. “Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” – Peter Drucker

23. “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work in hand. The Sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus” – Alexander Graham Bell

24. “Are your office policies in sync with employee needs and desires? Knowing what keeps your employees happy will not only increase productivity and morale, but will also make employees less likely to quit.” – Neil Lebovits

25. “Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker

26. “We try more to profit from always remembering the obvious than from grasping the esoteric. It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.” – Charlie Munger

27. “Productivity is the deliberate, strategic investment of your time, talent, intelligence, energy, resources, and opportunities in a manner calculated to move you measurably closer to meaningful goals.” – Dan S. Kennedy

28. “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen Covey

29. “The productivity of a work group seems to depend on how the group members see their own goals in relation to the goals of the organization.” – Ken Blanchard

30. “Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.” – Peter Drucker

31. “Over the long run, the unglamorous habit of frequency fosters both productivity and creativity.” – Gretchen Rubin

32. “Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.” – Douglas R. Hofstadter

33. “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion” – C. Northcote Parkinson

34. “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle

35. “The way we measure productivity is flawed. People checking their BlackBerry over dinner is not the measure of productivity.” – Tim Ferriss

36. “I always had the uncomfortable feeling that if I wasn’t sitting in front of a computer typing, I was wasting my time—but I pushed myself to take a wider view of what was “productive.” Time spent with my family and friends was never wasted.” – Gretchen Rubin

37. “Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can’t miss.” – Lee Iacocca

38. “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

39. “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” – Paul J. Meyer

40. “Stressing output is the key to improving productivity, while looking to increase activity can result in just the opposite.” – Paul Gauguin

41. “Don’t worry about breaks every 20 minutes ruining your focus on a task. Contrary to what I might have guessed, taking regular breaks from mental tasks actually improves your creativity and productivity. Skipping breaks, on the other hand, leads to stress and fatigue.” – Tom Rath

42. “Productivity growth, however it occurs, has a disruptive side to it. In the short term, most things that contribute to productivity growth are very painful.” – Janet Yellen

43. “In a world where we emphasize the creation of new products through rapid iteration and experimentation, we often forget to step back and make sure that the future we are racing to is one we truly want to create.” – Ann Miura-Ko

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