4 Productivity Methods used by Elon Musk

4 Productivity Methods used by Elon Musk

15 January 2021

Many of us know would be familiar with the name ‘Elon Musk’. If you haven’t he is the CEO of Tesla and, SpaceX. But what makes him stand out from the rest is his deep knowledge of the areas he specialises in but also known for his incredible productivity. Here are 4 methods Elon Musk uses to stay hyper productive:

  1. Musk focuses on ensuring a breadth of knowledge whilst also having depth.

CEOs of large companies need to have a high-level understanding of all their business areas in order to make decisions. This of course is essential for time management, Musk stands out as he has proven he can effectively run his business whilst understanding the detailed science behind his cars, rockets, satellites, and anything his company creates. This enables him to have discussions with engineers on the ground, help them to come up with solutions, and ultimately come up with the products of the future. His intelligence can be used to push through previously impossible barriers.

Here’s an example – it was previously thought that the idea of using reusable rockets is impossible, space experts said Musk “is wasting his time, and that calculations prove reusable rockets “to be a fool’s errand.”  Since then the Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket has been used multiple times. Musk would sit with his engineers and ask detailed and probing questions in order to learn as much as he could. Several early engineers have quoted saying that they were grilled in such depth by Musk they first thought that he was testing them whether they knew their stuff before they realised he was just trying to accumulate as much knowledge as possible. Musk can be described as a T shaped person that has depth in a specialist area but also knowledge across a wide array of topics. This allows him to effectively run his business as any CEO but also innovate in ways that many can’t.

2. He demands a lot but leads by example.

To say Musk is incredibly demanding of his employees may be an understatement. He expects them to sacrifice a balanced life in order to meet the intense demands of working at his companies even quoted to have said “I want your head to hurt every night you go to bed”.  Doesn’t sound like the person you want to work for, right?

Well in fact most of Musk’s former employees have incredible respect for him and the reason is that he holds himself to the standards he expects of his employees. He works incredibly hard often working seven days a week up to 100 hours whilst always trying to be as productive as possible.

Whilst he makes his employees work hard he will work even harder. He also knows the importance of showing this leadership to others and the effects it can have on motivation and so chooses to put his desk on the Tesla factory floor amongst the engineer’s desks. He wants to be visible to set this example to his employees but also make himself approachable. This not only has the benefit of motivating others but helps him stay motivated as being physically there and visible by the staff gives means he knows that he has an example to set and as such will need to work hard and stay focused.

3. He sets stretch targets and ambitious deadlines.

In many of our other articles we talk about the importance of setting goals that are challenging and can stretch you, well Musk epitomises this.

He would set incredibly ambitious deadlines for his various projects, sometimes bordering on unrealistic. Clearly, this has worked for him and allows us to see many of the great innovations he has produced.  In one of his car developments, he set the benchmark of it to go from Los Angeles to New York one charge. The car would be worked on, all parts tested for a year in order to reach this ambitious goal. When the car set off on the journey, even many of the vice presidents would think that the car wouldn’t make it close to Las Vegas. Instead, it made it to New Mexico, twice as far as was the goal and Musk was still not happy. Musk’s ambitious goals get more out of the people than they even expect themselves and push them to achieve beyond what they previously thought.

It’s a lesson for all of us that if we stick to what we are comfortable with achieving we will never see where our potential could lead us. If your Spanish tutor pushes you to learn 100 words of vocab when you would only think you could do 50 would likely mean you would at least hit 70. To see growth and better yourself you need to be ambitious and stretch yourself and this doesn’t happen in your comfort zone.

4. He always tries to improve.

Yes, Musk is at the top but that doesn’t stop him from trying to be even better. He is constantly thinking about how he can make things better to improve. He stresses the importance of a feedback loop where you constantly think about how things can be done better, be it faster, cheaper, or more efficiently.

He is an advocate of giving and receiving truthful feedback to im+prove as an individual and as a team. Failure can also be a great way to improve and it is important to learn from all failure. He once said, “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing you’re not innovating enough”.

We’ve talked about just four here but there are many other successful traits that he is known for such as decisiveness, collaboration, and the ability to put the right people in the right role. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading

I’m Pete and let’s reach itt!