People have strived to optimize productivity since the beginning of time, so it’s not surprising to find an overwhelming number of quotes about this topic. It doesn’t help that the concept of “productivity” is relevant to almost all aspects of life.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, productivity is defined as yielding results, benefits, or profits. Getting better results– or being more productive– is something that people strive to accomplish at work, around the house, or even in personal hobbies or activities. Everyone can improve productivity in some aspect of life.

So with that in mind, we’ve sourced some great productivity quotes from a variety of people, spoken in a range of different circumstances. Whether you’re looking for motivation to stay focused, set priorities, or simply get things done, here are 18 productivity quotes keep you moving in the right direction.

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

It’s one thing to be busy with work, but it’s another thing actually understand why you do what you do.  Do those busy tasks actually contribute to your larger goals? Working hard won’t set you apart from others if you aren’t making an impact.

Are you busy being productive? – Anonymous

Being productive is leveraging the resources you have to accomplish more with less effort. If you find yourself adding using more resources in the pursuit of productivity, maybe it’s time to reassess.

The best way out is always through. – Robert Frost

Some of the most productive people are also the most determined. Sometimes it’s not a matter of whether you can actually accomplish a task; instead, it’s about whether you have enough determination to push through to the end.

Use your mind to think about things, rather than think of them. You want to be adding value as you think about projects and people, not simply reminding yourself they exist.
― David Allen

David Allen believes one of the best ways to be more productive is to start acting, rather than just thinking about taking action. This quote from his book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” applies this to our time spent thinking as well.

Don’t be a robot, build the robot.

In our interview with Zapier CEO Wade Foster, he talks about the importance of automating manual tasks. No matter your role, you’ll likely find yourself doing repetitive, low-value work. Wade believes automating this work is one of the best ways to increase your productivity and focus on creating more valuable output.

People can be really smart or have skills that are directly applicable, but if they don’t really believe in it, then they are not going to really work hard. –Mark Zuckerberg

In this quote, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg emphasizes how passion can impact productivity. If you aren’t passionate about the things you’re working on, you’re less likely to put in time and effort. Long story short? Spend time working on things you believe in.

Action is the foundational key to all success. – Picasso

At Hive, we believe in taking action. This is because actions activate information and bring about a change. You are now reading quotes about productivity, and you feel motivated and energized. Yet nothing will change if you do not take any action. This information is only made useful if you start acting upon it.

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

Being busy does not equate to being productive. Sometimes it’s necessary to consider if more activity is actually producing more results.

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

It’s true that productivity is a result of striving towards excellence and planning. One doesn’t just come across productivity organically — you have to try for it.

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 A. Edison

You cannot improve your productivity without planning and intentional steps. You also have to hold yourself accountable and recognize when you are getting in your own way.

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

Productivity is about focusing on the most important things. Consider the 80/20 principle– are you spending 80% of your time to get 20% of the work done? Or are you spending 20% of your time to get 80% of the work done? To get started, identify your 80/20 tasks and spend time on the productive ones instead.

Saying ‘I don’t have time’ really means ‘it’s not a priority.’ If someone offered you a ton of cash to do whatever you claim you don’t have time for…you’d probably find the time! -Laura Vanderkam

When we talked to productivity professional Laura Vanderkam, she made this interesting point about prioritization. She says it’s not a matter of enough time, rather it’s a matter of choosing what matters most to you at the moment. This mindset shift is a great way to reclaim control of your time.

‘Tomorrow’ is the thing that’s always coming but never arrives. ‘Today’ is the thing that’s already here and never leaves. And because that’s the case, I would much prefer to invest in today than sit around waiting for an arrival that’s not arriving. – Craig D. Lounsbrough

How often do you find yourself pushing the deadline to the next day? It’s easy to put something off with the intention of doing it later, but why not just do it now? There will always be another tomorrow, but there won’t be another today.

You can’t get much done in life if you only work on days when you feel good. – Jerry West

A successful basketball player, Jerry West believes in putting in his best efforts every day. Not every day will be your best, but they all lead up to the final goal you are working towards.

If you have time to whine then you have time to find solution. – Dee Dee Artner

Dee Dee Artner is the author of Millionaire Focus. He believes that people waste time just complaining and procrastinating about a problem, rather than working to find a solution. We will all run into many problems in life– choose to direct your energy towards something positive and productive instead.

If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done. – Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee believes that you should not spend too much time thinking about a problem as you will always be stuck on it. Move on to solve other aspects of the tasks then come back to the original problem. Often, you will find a new perspective to solve the original problem.

My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do. – Francine Jay

Once you find the system that works for you, you have developed a formula that will forever change how you work.

Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year-and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade! – Tony Robbins

Most people plan and set goals for the immediate future– but what about the long term? Sometimes it’s important to remember that you won’t be able to accomplish everything in one year. Instead, think about the long game. So much more can be done in a decade than a year!

Do you have a favorite productivity quote that wasn’t included in this article? Did one of these quotes help you realize something about productivity in your own life? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.