The author of the quote is Ayn Rand, philosopher and author of such works as The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Whether you love her or hate her, I think you will get a lot from the following quote from her.
“Productive work” does not mean the unfocused performance of the motions of some job. It means the consciously chosen pursuit of a productive career, in any line of rational endeavor, great or modest, on any level of ability. It is not the degree of a man’s ability nor the scale of his work that is ethically relevant here, but the fullest and most purposeful use of his mind.
Charles F. Haanel also had quite a bit to say about productive work. Peruse this excerpt from The Master Key System, for example.
8. The financier gets much because he gives much; he thinks; he is seldom a man that lets any one else do his thinking for him; he wants to know how results are to be secured; you must show him; when you can do this he will furnish the means by which hundreds or thousands may profit; and in proportion as they are successful will he be successful. Morgan, Rockefeller, Carnegie, and others did not get rich because they lost money for other people. On the contrary, it is because they made money for other people that they became the wealthiest men in the wealthiest country on the globe.
9. The average person is entirely innocent of any deep thinking; he accepts the ideas of others and repeats them in very much the same way as a parrot; this is readily seen when we understand the method which is used to form public opinion and this docile attitude on the part of a large majority, who seem perfectly willing to let a few persons do all their thinking for them, is what enables a few men in a great many countries to usurp all the avenues of power and hold the millions in subjection. Creative thinking requires attention.
Of course, this isn’t all that Haanel wrote on the subject. The Master Key System is full of points like this.
Take the time to review them.
Take the time to choose your goal.
Commit yourself to achieving it.
Focus all of your thoughts and all of your energy to accomplishing what you set to do.
You can begin right now. Make the choice to do so.