30 Realistic Productivity Quotes

30 Realistic Productivity Quotes

April 13, 2021
, Last updated: 
April 13, 2021

Our 30 favorite productivity quotes go beyond 10xing your output and hustle porn and instead focus on the true nature of productivity.

So much of the focus in the world of productivity centers around hustle porn or 10xing your output. But productivity means a lot more than becoming some sort of humanoid robot. Productivity is not about being busy or the amount you get done,

Here are our 30 favorite realistic productivity quotes that give a holistic view of the nature of productivity. We’ve grouped them by the lesson and subject.

Focus on what matters

Productivity quotes - focus

There is not enough time to do all the things we have on our to-do list. Being productive is not just about checking things off. More importantly, it’s about focused effort, and working on the right things that truly move the needle and push you towards your goals.

Read our article on Mindful Productivity

Nothing is quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all. - Peter F. Drucker
If you don't pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves. - David Allen
The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. - Stephen Covey
It's not always that we need to do more but rather that we need to focus on less. - Nathan W. Morris
No matter how many personal productivity techniques you master, there will always be more to do than you can ever accomplish in the time you have available to you, no matter how much it is. - Brian Tracy
It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials. - Bruce Lee

Find something you care about

Productivity quotes - do what you love

Feeling good about your work is critical to productivity. If you aren’t doing something you care about, it’s much harder to force yourself awake in the morning to go to work.

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. - Steve Jobs
People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing. - Dale Carnegie
This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play. - Alan Wilson Watts
I don’t believe in failure. It’s not failure if you enjoyed the process. – Oprah Winfrey

Optimize your time

Productivity quotes - optimize time

How we spend our time is critical. Find the ways to reduce lost time or be productive in the downtime.

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
Don’t make the same decision twice. Spend time and thought to make a solid decision the first time so that you don’t revisit the issue unnecessarily. - Bill Gates

Being busy ≠ being productive

Productivity Quotes - Don't be busy

There’s nothing quite so dull as when you ask someone how they are doing, and they reply with “busy.” Don’t strive to be busy; strive to be productive.

It is not enough to be busy... The question is: What are we busy about? - Henry David Thoreau
Focus on being productive instead of being busy. - Tim Ferriss
Never mistake motion for action. - Ernest Hemingway
Don't confuse activity with productivity. Many people are simply busy being busy. - Robin Sharma

Just get started

Productivity quotes - just do it

Don’t wait around; get started now!

Don't wait. The time will never be just right. - Napoleon Hill
Don’t be afraid of hard work. Nothing worthwhile comes easily. Don’t let others discourage you or tell you that you can’t do it. In my day I was told women didn’t go into chemistry. I saw no reason why we couldn’t. - Gertrude B. Elion
The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope. - Barack Obama

Avoid multitasking

Productivity Quotes - Multitasking

Trying to do too many things at once is a productivity killer. You might feel busy, but you are likely not as productive.

What looks like multitasking is really switching back and forth between multiple tasks, which reduces productivity and increases mistakes by up to 50 percent. - Susan Cain
Think of many things; do one. - Porteguese proverb
Never half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing. - Ron Swanson

Keep going

Productivity quotes - keep going

Sometimes you should stop and move on, but sometimes you need just to keep pushing forward. Knowing the difference is the hard part.

When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn. - Harriet Beecher Stowe
Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird. - Anne Lamott
Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor. - Truman Capote


Productivity quotes - planning

Proper planning can save time down the line.

If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I would spend the first four hours sharpening the axe. - Abraham Lincoln
If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else. – Yogi Berra
It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan. – Eleanor Roosevelt
Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago. – Warren Buffett
April 13, 2021

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