GROW

Elon Musk Says Time Management Does Not Matter (but This 1 Thing Does Big Time)

Elon Musk doesn’t start his day at the crack of dawn, eat breakfast, or use fancy time management apps. This is what he does do.

Share on
BY Peter Economy - 09 Nov 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

To say Elon Musk is busy would be an out-of-this-world understatement.

When the billionaire innovator is not running auto manufacturer Tesla Motors, he's leading aerospace manufacturer SpaceX. As he revolutionizes transportation on earth and in space, he talks of colonizing Mars and reducing "the risk of human extinction". Musk is an entrepreneur, engineer, investor and inventor, known for PayPal, the Hyperloop, SolarCity, OpenAI, The Boring Company, Neuralink, and Zip2. Am I forgetting anything?

Naturally, it makes sense that we look to him for tips and guidance on how to get a lot done in a small amount of time. At only 46, he has done so much already, and is showing absolutely no signs of stopping. His days surely must be packed. Musk certainly has to be some sort of time management master.

Here's what he has to say: "I've actually not read any books on time management."

It turns out Musk does not exercise the more common time management techniques we all know of when it comes to managing his tight schedule.

No, he does not laud waking up at the crack of dawn. Musk does not use a special app to monitor his computer or mobile use. In fact, the inventor often doesn't even start the day with breakfast.

Rather than do a number of individual activities to keep his use of time in check, Musk tends to just keep things flowing. Instead of setting aside time to learn how to work more effectively, he keeps working, learning as he proceeds.

As he indicates in an interview with Y Combinator president, Sam Altman, Musk focuses a lot on product development: "I think a lot of people think I must spend a lot of time with media or on business-y things...But actually almost all my time, like 80 percent of it, is spent on engineering and design." Perhaps this is reflective of how he treats time management as a whole -- while constantly perfecting the processes and systems of his products, he also constantly perfects the ways in which he uses up his time.

"I think it's very important to have a feedback loop," Musk details, "where you're constantly thinking about what you've done and how you could be doing it better." Musk's grind does not stop, and, evidently, neither does his concentration on doing better.

Wondering what are Musk's wise words for an aspiring productivity master? "I think that's the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself."