Motivational posters and productivity quotes can be visual, as well as mental reminders for the office. The best of them have more than meets the eye. Successful entrepreneurs, titans of industry, military leaders and top performers throughout history have recorded wisdom that is just as applicable today.
As a computer consulting firm, we help organizations run leaner, more efficient, and productive companies. So reading is part of what we do a lot of and is an essential component in the field of information technology. Without further ado, we present our top picks for timeless productivity quotes.
1) “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” – David Allen
David Allen is the New York Times bestselling author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity. With the amount of tasks, projects and goals we each have in our lives at any given moment, our brain is constantly finding ways to do it all. That means that it has to devote time and energy to prioritizing and scheduling what we do, alongside actually getting it accomplished.
We use valuable mental resources to constantly keep a mental “secretary”, which decreases productivity and focus. Allen created a method for taking all of the ideas and plans out of your head to systematically schedule, as well as organize them. Freeing your mind from the task and strain of remembering things before they come up.
2) “There is no substitute for hard work.” – Thomas Edison
Working to cut costs, reduce inefficiency and increase output is productive to an extent. There are diminishing marginal returns to planning, strategizing, organizing, categorizing, systematizing and theorizing about how to get things done more productively.
Thomas Edison knew this and he produced over 1000 patents during his lifetime, including the invention of the modern tungsten filament (the light bulb). Never one to dismiss a bright idea, Edison understood that ideas ultimately require hard work to bring them to market.
3) “The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.” – Tom Peters
Tom Peters, an expert in leadership and management, is the co-author of the bestseller, In Search of Excellence. Heralded as the greatest business book of all time, Peters studied 43 American companies to find the best practices of top performing organizations. He found eight universal principles being employed effectively for success and these were:
- A bias for action and active decision making
- The ability to learn from their customers
- Autonomy and entrepreneurship
- Productivity through people
- Hands-on and value-driven management philosophy
- A focused niche
- A lean staff
- Simultaneous loose-tight properties
Together, these best practices can greatly improve an organization at all levels.
4) “The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings.” – Thomas Sowell
Thomas Sowell is a celebrated American economist, a senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and National Humanities Medal award winner. Thomas is a veteran with service in the U.S. Marines during the Korean War. He is also on faculty at Cornell University and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Originally a high-school dropout, he went on to graduate magna cum laude from Harvard University and earned his Doctorate in Economics from the University of Chicago. Sowell is a prolific controversial economist and political writer but his ambition and productivity are par excellence.
Although his quote can be taken with a grain of salt, we can all recall a meeting with too many people making each decision or “too many cooks in the kitchen”, as some would say. Collaboration is important but not at the cost of lost productivity.
5) “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
Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha (his nickname) was raised during the Great Depression and worked to become one of the most successful investors and wealthiest human being in the world. His business acumen is world-renowned. He’s been able to pivot and succeed through stock market crashes, including drawn out recessions. Mental agility and the ability to continually adapt are important for business productivity. Applying the right amount of effort, at the right time, in the right direction will lead to greater productivity over time.