Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk: Master Of Time Management, Workaholic – Or Both?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk

APR 9 2017 BY EVANNEX 22

Tesla CEO Elon Musk at “Solar Roof” Launch last October

Elon Musk is a real-life superhero – but he doesn’t have huge muscles, green skin or a high-tech suit of armor (yet). His superpowers are in his mind, which is not only bold and creative, but highly disciplined. You might imagine that anyone who can simultaneously manage sending rockets into space and revolutionizing transportation, while still finding time for solar roof tiles, the Hyperloop, boring tunnels in LA, etc (and Musk is very much a hands-on manager – his attention to detail is legendary) must be either a workaholic, or a master of time management. It turns out Mr. Musk is a bit of both.

*This article comes to us courtesy of Evannex (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris.

He has told interviewers that he regularly puts in 100 hours per week.

“If other people are putting in 40 hours in a week, and you’re putting in 100, you will achieve in four months what it takes them a year to achieve.”

Typical Musk modesty – there are plenty who put in 100 hours a week and will never accomplish a fraction of what Musk has done, and he is far from finished. Musk has said that he hasn’t read any books on time management, but he could surely write a pretty good one himself. Over the years, he’s offered a number of time-optimizing tips.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk at debut of Model 3 almost a year ago

Perhaps the most important of these is that he is constantly trying to improve his practices, and optimize the way he gets things done (what Steven Covey called “sharpening your saw”).

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better,” Musk told Mashable in 2012. “I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”

Like most famous people, Musk insulates himself from the masses, using a secret email address to communicate with people inside his companies. However, you can contact him via Twitter, and if he finds your message of interest, he will respond. For example, he recently agreed to a young lady’s suggestion to run a contest for the best fan-produced Tesla commercial. And Musk avoids phone calls whenever possible – he prefers forms of communication that allow him to respond on his own schedule, such as email, texts and Twitter.

“I do love email. Wherever possible I try to communicate asynchronously. I’m really good at email.”

Musk’s heroic productivity does not stem from any list of time management tips, but from certain basic principles that lie deep within his character. One of these is “first principles” thinking. The idea is that instead of trying to remember lists of facts about a topic, you should try to understand the most basic principles behind the topic. Thinking this way reduces the amount of time Musk needs to spend “getting up to speed” on new ideas. It gives a more expansive view of what’s possible and what isn’t, because instead of basing your ideas on common assumptions, you’re basing them on rock-solid physical laws. “Take it down to the physics,” Musk famously says to people who tell him something can’t be done. In other words, explain to me the physical laws that make it impossible.

Tesla CEO And Chairman Elon Musk

“I think most people can learn a lot more than they think they can,” says Musk. “It is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree – make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details, or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”

A paragon of productivity Musk may be, but he’s no soulless automaton (he’s more like a Marvel superhero than a DC one). He finds time for sleep, for humor and fun, and for spending time with his five sons. You can find loads of pithy Muskian quotes about work/life balance, and much else besides, in a recent book called Rocket Man.

“I tried to figure out what’s the right amount of sleep,” Musk told CHM Revolutionaries in 2013. “I found I could drop below a certain threshold of sleep, and although I’d be awake more hours and I could sustain it, I would get less done because my mental acuity would be affected. So I found, generally, the right number for me is around six to six and a half hours, on average, per night. “I always try to reserve time for my kids because I love hanging out with them,” said Elon at the 2016 Code Conference. “Of anything in my life, I would say kids by far make me the happiest.”

Above: Elon Musk takes the ALS “ice bucket challenge” with his kids (Youtube: ALS IBC)

Of course, this doesn’t mean he can’t be multitasking while spending quality time with his boys.

“A lot of times, kids are kind of in their own worlds. They don’t want to talk to their dad for hours on end, generally. So I can be in the same room with them, they can talk to me from time to time, but I can get some e-mails done, get some work done, and then whenever they want to talk to me, they can.”

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Sources: Inc., Mashable, Rocket Man

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX, Check out the site here.

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22 Comments on "Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk: Master Of Time Management, Workaholic – Or Both?"

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Ocean Railroader

I think what makes Elon Musk a interesting man is that I think he bases his existence on getting the right skilled people into the right places.

Such as he could be seen as the leader of a orchestra in getting right people and resources into SpaceX and Tesla.

mx

Agreed.
They talk like Tesla has one employee.

mark

i like elon musk but there’s no reason to deify the man

Ziv

I have to agree, mark. I like what Tesla is doing and I love what Spacex is doing but the hagiography is a bit off-putting.
But I also have to admit that if it wasn’t for Musk we would not be nearly as far along as we are with regards to electric vehicles or re-usable space vehicles.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Well said.

I certainly do admire Musk for his vision, his dedication, his optimism, and his willingness to “put himself out there” and to bet his personal fortune on making Tesla succeed.

But that doesn’t mean I’m blind to his faults, such as the way he blurts out “unfiltered” remarks (to put it politely) in public and on Twitter.

And Elon Musk is definitely a workaholic. Anyone who has married and divorced the same woman twice obviously is neglecting his personal life to devote himself almost exclusively to his work, despite what this article says about Elon spending “quality time” with his children. When it comes to spending time with your family, quality can’t make up for lack of quantity.

Koenigsegg

Speaking his mind is one of his “Faults”?

You sound a little hurt. Did Elon say something that affected you emotionally?

Man up pal. Elon says whatever he wants.

People crying about Model 3 not having a center HUD and he replies “You wont care” and “No”.

LOL Elon is a savage. Badass

Terawatt

You think this proves he blurts out his thoughts as they occur to him? It proves the opposite!

Those tweets, and nearly all others, are carefully designed responses meant to create a flurry of speculative articles about what mysterious reason there may be that we won’t care. And it worked. For several weeks articles kept popping up with speculation ranging from a holographic user interface to simply autonomy being why we wouldn’t care.

Elon may be many things, but there can’t be much doubt that he is very smart and really gets online marketing.

Stephen Hodges

Hey, why not…. we all need some heroes and he’s (an awful lot) better than some.

Ludus

Musk has five living sons. His first died in infancy.

Jay Cole

Thank Ludus, that should be noted in the story.

Austin

His eating habits are interesting too. Supposedly he eats as quickly as he can, and views eating as a huge waste of time. He thinks we spend too much time worried about what we’re going to eat for breakfast, lunch and supper. And how we’re going to prepare it.

Priusmaniac

With at least the exception of his self-made cookies!

Four Electrics

What’s remarkable is that all of Musk’s companies have not made a dime. I suspect this was also true of Zip2 and X.com. The latter was purchased by PayPal, after which Musk was fired as CEO, but which gave him enough money to for other ventures, including investing in (not founding) Tesla.

Pushmi-Pullyu

“…that all of Musk’s companies have not made a dime.”

WTF? Are the Tesla/Musk haters having a contest to see who can write the most absurd and most obviously untrue statement?

According to Wikipedia: “As of March 2017, [Musk] has an estimated net worth of $13.9 billion…”

But serial Tesla basher and Musk hater “Four Electrics” knows better, ‘cuz he heard it from the other Tesla bashers! 🙄

ryan mitchell

The net worth largely reflects the current market value of shares in a company than has not made a dime. purely speculative value at this time.

Terawatt

Here YOU are the FUDster. You know better than to confuse Elon’s personal net worth with whether or not his companies have ever made any money.

I would have thought PayPal was making money before it was sold to eBay, but I don’t really know.

Of course, even if none of his companies have made any money that doesn’t mean they never did anything useful, or even that they haven’t been good to the investors (so far).

Equally, getting very rich doesn’t necessarily indicate that you’ve done anything useful, or that your companies (if you ran any) were good to the investors. Vladimir Putin is one of the richest men in the world, but he didn’t get there by doing good deeds. And there’s no reason why business people, stock brokers, bankers, investors, and indeed CEOs cannot also become very rich while doing more bad than good.

Tribalypredisposed

What is remarkable is that you make a huge claim then immediately admit you have no idea if it is true. You just “suspect” that Zip2 and X.com did not make money, and of course you have no idea if Space-X is making money because it is privately held and does not have to report profits or losses.

What is true is that Tesla has not made money so far, and it will not make money soon either as it continues to expand at ludicrous speed. Ten years from now Tesla will be absurdly profitable.

Andy

I love insideevs but please stop posting articles like this. Musk is far from a superhero he is more like really good at marketing himself and his companies. Sure, Tesla and SpaceX have accomplished a lot, but they have thousands of engineers doing the “dirty work” for Musk.

CLIVE

If you do not like the article do not read it.

If it wasn’t for his vision and leadership those you spoke of wouldn’t have those jobs without him.

arne-nl

Getting people to do the right ‘dirty work’ is exactly what the point is of leading a large company. No CEO ever does the ‘dirty work’.

Apparently Musk excels at getting the right engineers do the right dirty work at the right moment. And doing that in two different companies at the same time is mind-boggling.

Musk’s talent is rare, very rare. And that is just a simple, rational observation.

Terawatt

***mod edit (staff)***

To answer your insinuation this is sponsored content:

InsideEVs has no “sponsor”. We do not publish any paid content. EVANNEX has no business relationship with InsideEVs of any kind, nor has any money or products exchange hands between us (or IEV and anyone).

EVANNEX has a Tesla-centered blog, of which they graciously allow us to re-post some content from. As such, it is only right/proper to note where the story is coming from, and disclose/give a little bump on what EVANNEX does (aftermarket Tesla products) for their graciousness.

Put another way, if you wrote a story related to plug-ins and it appeared on IEV, we would link back to your blog/business in the same way.

***mod edit***

Priusmaniac

You got me lost in translation there!

What’s wrong about an article on Insideevs talking about Musk since he is obviously a major player in the EV arena?