35 Inspirational time management quotes

When legendary jazz musician Miles Davis wrote this time management quote, he probably wasn’t thinking about how you spend your day. But he hit on a truth that is so easy to forget during our busy, busy days.

Your day, just like everyone else’s, is only 24 hours. Yet somehow certain people seem to be able to squeeze more from that time than others. What it all comes down to is time management—how you choose to plan, prioritize, and spend the hours you have.

To get inspired to get more from our day, here are some powerful time management quotes from some of history’s most productive people.

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Time management quotes about planning your day

“What gets measured gets managed.” Nowhere is this more true than when you’re trying to get the most out of your time. Here are some powerful quotes about the planning aspect of time management:

Time management quotes Chinese proverb

“He who every morning plans the transactions of that day and follows that plan carries a thread that will guide him through the labyrinth of the most busy life.” – Victor Hugo

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

“The most efficient way to live reasonably is every morning to make a plan of one’s day and every night to examine the results obtained.” – Alexis Carrel

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin Click To Tweet

How you can use these to plan your day better

As the famous motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said, we all have the same 24 hours. And learning to use them to their best potential is at the core of time management.

Start by tracking how you spend your time to understand where it’s going (And where it’s being wasted). Then, listen to the words of Carrel and Hugo who championed morning routines, evening reviews, and setting and following daily goals.

Time management quotes about setting priorities

Time management comes down to making choices. Should you spend your day in meetings or block out time to work on your more important work? Should you wake up early or hit the snooze button?

Here are some powerful quotes on how to set priorities and make good choices with your time:

Time management quotes thoreau

“You must vie with time’s swiftness in the speed of using it, and, as from a torrent that rushes by and will not always flow, you must drink quickly.” ― Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” – Steve Jobs

“You get to decide where your time goes. You can either spend it moving forward, or you can spend it putting out fires. You decide. And if you don’t decide, others will decide for you.” – Tony Morgan

How you can use these to set better priorities

More than anything, these quotes remind us that time is fleeting. And if we don’t actively set priorities and protect our time, it will be taken from us.

Remember to separate the urgent from the important, create your own “avoid-at-all-costs” list, and bring back “no” into your vocabulary.

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Time management quotes about beating procrastination

Despite knowing what we need to do, it’s easy to push it off for some later date. And while procrastination is commonplace, let’s hear from some of the world’s most prolific creators how they push through it:

Time management quotes Stephen King

“Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.” – Anonymous

“Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday and avoiding today.” – Wayne Dyer

“You may delay, but time will not.” – Benjamin Franklin

“The best time to start was last year. Failing that, today will do.” – Chris Guillebeau Click To Tweet

How you can use these to fight off procrastination

Procrastination is less of strictly a time management issue and more of an emotional one. Again, recognizing the issue is the first step in fighting procrastination.

Listen to Founding Father Benjamin Franklin when he says that time won’t stop (even if you ignore it). Then, recognize as Chris Guillebeau said, that even if you have procrastinated, starting now is the best thing you can do.

Finally, get moving by following best-selling author Stephen King’s advice and just start! Researchers have found that telling yourself you’ll work on something just for 5 minutes is usually enough to break down the emotional barrier and beat procrastination.

Time management quotes about finding your focus

If procrastination and planning aren’t issues for you, I’m sure that focus is.

We all get caught up in daydreams, get distracted, or simply lose our focus. But getting the most out of your time means being laser focused when you’re doing the work. Here are some quotes distilling the secrets to staying focused all day long:

Time management quotes Peter Drucker

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” – Mark Twain

“You can have it all. Just not all at once.” – Oprah Winfrey

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

“Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is specifically your own.” – Bruce Lee

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” – Albert Einstein

How you can use these to get your focus back

As Einstein puts it, important work deserves your focus. Follow Werner and Drucker’s advice and decide what deserves your attention. Next, recognize that you most likely only have 4–5 hours of productive, focused work a day. That means that for anything that is “useless”, as Lee says, it’s time to either ditch it or delegate.

RescueTime keeps you focused by automatically blocking distracting sites when you need it the most. Find out more about how it helps you do your best work. 

Time management quotes about boosting productivity

The goal of time management is always productivity—to get more done in less time. However, this doesn’t come down to just planning when you’ll work, but understanding the best ways how to work. Here are some suggestions:

Time management quotes Paul J Meyer

“If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I would spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.” – Charles Richards

“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 Click To Tweet

How you can use these to give your productivity a bump

Productivity doesn’t just happen on its own as Meyer, the founder of the Success Motivation Institute, said. Instead, there are very specific things you need to do to be more productive.

That means becoming self-aware of what work drives the biggest results, blocking out external distractions, and scheduling the right work at the right time.

Time management quotes about multitasking

It’s always tempting to try to do more than one thing at a time. But science, and these quotes, show that multitasking simply isn’t an option if you want to manage your time properly.

Time management quotes Alexander Graham Bell

“To do two things at once is to do neither.” – Publius Syrus

“The shorter way to do many things is to only do one thing at a time.” – Mozart

How you can use these to quit multitasking

What all 3 quotes here acknowledge is that splitting your attention between tasks means not giving your all to either. If we want real results and to spend our time wisely, it’s more important to focus solely on one task before we move onto the next.

Time management quotes about making better decisions

As we said before, time management comes down to making good decisions. But sometimes we need a little reminder of that. Here are some influential quotes about the sheer importance of the choices you make about how you spend your time:

Time management quotes Bruce Lee

 

“One always has time enough, if one will apply it well.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” – Douglas Adams

“Your future is created by what you do today, not tomorrow.” – Anonymous

How you can use these to make better choices about how you spend your time

It all comes down to what Lee says: Life is time. Don’t obsess over deadlines, as Adam notes, but rather apply your time in the best ways possible. As von Goethe says, you’ll always have enough time to do the things you want, if you choose to spend your time on those tasks.

Time management quotes about the importance of rest

Lastly, while time management seems to be so much about doing more, it’s important to also take time to rest.

Disconnecting from work lets our mind and body recharge. It ensures that when we are working next, we’re working at full capacity.

Time management quotes Ovid

“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” – Abraham Lincoln

“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” - Bertrand Russell Click To Tweet

How you can use these to prioritize downtime

In our culture of more it’s easy to forget the benefits of free time. In the effort to manage your time better, remember that not everything can or should be managed. As old Honest Abe put it, there’s always tomorrow. And if you’re doing something you enjoy with your time off, it’s not possible you wasted it.


Time is our most precious resource. And while we can’t control its movement, we can make sure we get the most out of the time we do have. These time management quotes will hopefully help you when you’re feeling uninspired, lost, and unsure of what to do.

Are there any time management quotes you love that we missed? Let us know in the comments.

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Jory MacKay

Jory MacKay is a writer, content marketer, and editor of the RescueTime blog.