Sometimes a simple shift in perspective is all you need to refocus your time and energy on what’s important. Quotes are a great way to trigger your brain to do what works. I love quotes (if you follow me on Twitter you know that every morning at 7:00 am PT I publish a motivational quote as well as Instagram.)


Here’s 33 of my favorite quotes from books I’ve read, mentors I’ve studied with and quotes I’ve collected over the years to help me remember how to be productive in my small business.

Enjoy — and let me know if you have any special quotes you’d add to this list in the comments below.

“Everything you say yes to means you are saying no to something else. Choose your yes wisely.”

– Melanie Benson

“Never mistake motion for action.”

– Ernest Hemingway

“Don’t confuse the urgent with the important.”

– Preston Ni

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

– Thomas Jefferson

“It’s not always that we need to do more but rather that we need to focus on less.”

– Nathan W. Morris

Get a boost of #productivity inspiration with one of these 33 quotes via @melcoach. #entrepreneur #smallbiz Share on X

“It is not enough to be busy… The question is: what are we busy about?”

– Henry David Thoreau

“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.”

― Arianna Huffington, Thrive

“Effective performance is preceded by painstaking preparation.”

– Brian Tracy

“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”

– Peter Drucker

“Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”

– Stephen Covey

“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.” 

– Tony Robbins

“When most people refer to multitasking, they are really talking about switchtasking. No matter how they do it, switching rapidly between two things is just not very efficient or effective.”

– Dave Crenshaw

“But what about the cost [of hiring a VA?]” This is a hurdle that is hard for most. ‘If I can do it better, why should I pay them?’ Because the goal is to free your time to focus on bigger and better things!'”

–Timothy Ferriss, author, The 4-Hour Workweek

“No matter how busy you are, you must take time to make the other person feel important.”

– Mary Kay Ash

“Your most important tasks and priorities are those that can have the most serious consequences, positive or negative, on your life or work. Focus on these above all.”

– Brian Tracy

“Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.”

– Leo Babauta

What we truly need to do is often what we most feel like avoiding.”

― David Allen, Ready for Anything

“Individuals or organizations with too many priorities have no priorities and risk spinning their wheels and accomplishing nothing of significance.”

— Verne Harnish, Scaling Up

“Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best.”

– John C. Maxwell

“We’ve found in all our research studies that the signature of mediocrity is not an unwillingness to change; the signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.”

– Jim Collins, Great by Choice

 “The 80/20 principle – that 80 percent of result flows from just 20 percent of the causes – is the one true principle of highly effective people.”

– Richard Koch

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

– Peter Drucker

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

– Abraham Lincoln

“All the mistakes I ever made in my life were when I wanted to say No, and said Yes.”

– Moss Hart

“High achievers spot rich opportunities swiftly, make big decisions quickly and move into action immediately. Follow these principles and you can make your dreams come true.”

– Robert H. Schuller

“The average person puts only 25% of his energy and ability into his work. The world takes off its hat to those who put in more than 50% of their capacity, and stands on its head for those few and far between souls who devote 100%.”

– Andrew Carnegie

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”

– Zig Ziglar

“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

“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

“The essence of self-discipline is to do the important thing rather than the urgent thing.”

– Barry Werner

“That is what lower performers do; they make others wrong for doing what is necessary in order to make themselves feel okay about doing nothing! The highest performers—the winners—respond by studying successful people and duplicating success.”

― Grant Cardone, The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure

“The truth is, what you do matters. What you do today matters. What you do every day matters. Successful people just do the things that seem to make no difference in the act of doing them and they do them over and over and over until the compound effect kicks in.”

― Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge: Secret to a Successful Life

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

― Jim Ryun





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