What are your best quotes/proverbs re: working hard & keeping focused?
September 20, 2015 4:44 PM   Subscribe

Repeating simple mantras help me stay focused, and I need some new quotes to store in my mental arsenal. They should be applicable to office work that requires multi-tasking, thinking through complex ideas, dealing with many people, communicating well, and working quickly and efficiently. What are your best ones?
posted by watrlily to Work & Money (25 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
The one my mom taught me that her dad told her:
If you don't like what you're doing, work harder.

One an ex boss taught me a long time ago when I was first starting to supervise others:
Check, check, double check, recheck. (I should apply it more at work... )

Two that I use frequently to calm myself:
Everything counts.
Fake it till you make it.

Another one for dealing with people:
Everyone is doing the best they can with what they have.
posted by Locochona at 5:14 PM on September 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

A Salman Rushdie quote, from Grimus: 'Dance the Strong Dance'
posted by Sebmojo at 5:21 PM on September 20, 2015

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might (Ecclesiastes 9:10.)
posted by Ideefixe at 5:34 PM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

From Terry Pratchett:
If you trust in yourself. . .and believe in your dreams. . .and follow your star. . . you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy.

From Andrew Carnegie:
People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.
posted by Mchelly at 6:11 PM on September 20, 2015 [11 favorites]

Slow down. Do less. Do the right things.
posted by gregglind at 6:15 PM on September 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

Drain the swamp while you fight the alligators.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:22 PM on September 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
- Calvin Coolidge
posted by qsysopr at 6:26 PM on September 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

My fave for redirecting my attention from distractions: 'Not my circus, not my monkeys'.
posted by Thella at 6:33 PM on September 20, 2015 [12 favorites]

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
—Winston Churchill

If you take the the insults of your fellow human beings personally, you will be offended for the rest of your life.
—Deepak Chopra

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.
—Stephen Hawking

One of my rules is: Never TRY to do anything. Just do it.
—Ani DiFranco

Forget injuries, never forget kindness.

Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something.
—H. Jackson Brown Jr.
posted by invisible ink at 6:43 PM on September 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

"Hustle beats talent when talent doesn't hustle."

"Hustle and heart will set you apart."

"Actually, I can."

"Remember why you started."
posted by SoulOnIce at 7:02 PM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Motivation follows action.

A year from now, you'll wish you had started today.
posted by mossicle at 8:07 PM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

You're doing it right if you get frustrated: if you're not frustrated, you're (probably) not stretching yourself mentally - Hadley Wickham
posted by momus_window at 8:20 PM on September 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Perfect is the enemy of done.
Any decision is better than no decision.
posted by carmicha at 8:23 PM on September 20, 2015 [7 favorites]

In the books by Carlos Castaneda, Don Juan says we should live "impeccably." I try to bear that in mind.

Also, my first meditation teacher and Robert Pirsig (author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) each said in slightly different ways that if you're bored, you're not paying close enough attention to what you're doing. The more attention you give it, the less boring it is.
posted by janey47 at 8:53 PM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

The only way out is through.
Every thing you do now is something you don't have to do later.
posted by yogalemon at 9:36 PM on September 20, 2015 [6 favorites]

Now is the right time.
posted by thetortoise at 10:29 PM on September 20, 2015

Best answer: One of my rules is: Never TRY to do anything. Just do it.
—Ani DiFranco

And of course the very similar "Do, or do not. There is no try", by Yoda.

Not sure who coined this but "Loving what you do is more important than doing what you love". That's got me through some boring, or even ultimately pointless tasks.

When pulling out of a depression, sloth, or other doldrum, I like to try and guiltlessly move past it with Vonnegut's

"You were sick, but now you're well, and there's work to do".

Goethe - "Enough words have been exchanged; now at last let me see some deeds!"
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:36 PM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is situation specific, rather than a general onward-and-upward mantra, but when I find myself spending time and energy trying to explain something or get someone to do something when it's clear they're not interested in what I'm saying to them:

Don't try to teach a pig to sing. It will only frustrate you and irritate the pig.
posted by kestralwing at 11:44 PM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Action precedes motivation.
posted by aniola at 12:46 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: "Whatever you are, be a good one." - Abraham Lincoln
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 1:37 AM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Obstacles are those things you see when you take your eye off the goal.
posted by mewsic at 2:48 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

"Then die."
posted by No-sword at 2:57 AM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn't feel like it.
– Alistair Cooke

Patience is the ability to let your light shine after your fuse has blown.
– Bob Levey

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
– Robert J. Hanlon

Command presence is not about control, it’s about connecting. More important, it’s not about power, it’s about partnership.
– Billy Schmidt
posted by bryon at 4:32 AM on September 21, 2015

From my granddad H.E. Doyle...
Never quit the cattle on a stormy night.
posted by txmon at 7:05 AM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

"In which quadrant is this task?"

I put my tasks in 1 of 4 quadrants. A completed task will have either Higher Impact or Lower Impact on those for whom the task is being done, or their customers. The person or group for whom I'm doing the task are either Higher Clout or Lower Clout, as measured on the clout they have over my department, my boss and his boss.

Do the tasks in this order
1. Higher Impact - Higher Clout

In software development, I usually did this order. Your situation may mean flipping the order.
2 Higher Impact - Lower Clout
3 Lower Impact - Higher Clout

4. Lower Impact - Lower Clout
posted by Homer42 at 7:36 AM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

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