Imagine this: It’s 3 pm and you’ve already downed your (second) afternoon coffee. You stare blankly at your computer screen. Trello is open, but you haven’t moved a card in hours. To add to it all, you’re distracted by Every. Single. Notification. There is no flow state — no deep work in sight. You’re trying to muster up some motivation, but to be frank, you’re just not feeling all that productive. We’ve all been there.
Whether you take a quick walk around the block, do a few stretches, or find a co-worker to chat with, sometimes you need a moment to refocus and get back into the zone. One of our favorite ways to seek inspiration is to turn to the experts — the people who are smarter than us.
And luckily, experts love to talk about productivity. There are books, podcasts, and everything in between. Though the term can be overused, it’s something that most of us strive for. At the end of the day, we all want to find a way to get more done and do it faster, better, and smarter. We could preach the benefits of productivity all day, but instead, we’ll leave it to those aforementioned experts. Their productivity quotes can inspire your team or get you through your next afternoon slump.
The 7 best productivity quotes
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” – Bruce Lee
Sometimes you just need to let go. If you’re hung up on a certain task, move on and leave it for later. Overthinking tends to be counterproductive. To double down on your productivity, swap a task that’s stumping you for one you know you can get done. An easy win will kickstart your productivity.
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” – Stephen King
On the other hand, sometimes you just need to push through. Though you may not feel particularly brilliant one day, you need to trust in yourself and try. Deadlines mean you can’t always just put off a task. Instead of stewing in your unproductiveness, just keep going. You’ll be surprised how a little bit of effort can yield a massive surge in motivation.
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.” – Steve Jobs
A commonly touted practice is learning how to say no. If you say “yes” to everything there’s no way you’d ever have time to be productive. To set yourself up for a productive week, think about the things you’re able to say “no” to so you can focus on what actually needs to get done.
“Never mistake motion for action.” – Ernest Hemingway
Far too often we mistake production for productivity. Doing a lot doesn’t mean you’re making the best possible use of your time. Instead of focusing on volume of output or speed, focus on the action or goal you actually want to complete. By having extreme clarity on and dedication to your goal, you’ll feel more empowered to get it done. And it’s in completing something fundamentally important that you’ll find true productivity.
“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” – Albert Einstein
Maybe he was humble, but Einstein was also, most definitely, “so smart”. The point he makes is still an important one. Productivity is far more a reflection of dedication than speed. This might seem to contradict Bruce Lee’s quote above, but this isn’t about agonizing over decisions; it’s about giving difficult problems the attention they require. If you’re feeling a bit demotivated because a task is taking a lot of brain power or a lot of time, think of how good you’ll feel on the other side of it.
“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” – Norman Vincent Peale
Productivity + motivation = a very good combination. Sometimes to get projects started or to get yourself out of a funk, you need to draw on some good vibes and general optimism. Studies have shown our brains are 31% more productive when we have a positive outlook. Believing in yourself might be corny advice, but it really does impact your productivity.
“The only way you are going to have success is to have lots of failures first.” – Sergey Brin
Productive or not, sometimes the work you do won’t turn out as you expected. But just because you deem something a failure, doesn’t mean it hasn’t helped you move a project forward or learn a lesson that will impact future work. There’s a silver lining in a storm cloud, so find yours and use that learning to improve your productivity moving forward.
There you have it — the seven best productivity quotes. The next time you’re about to reach for your third coffee of the day, save yourself some heartburn. Read a line or two and get back to it.
Need more inspiration for your team? Check out our motivational quotes roundup.