Between running Tesla and SpaceX, founder and CEO Elon Musk does not have a lot of free time. When you have a schedule as crammed full as he does, focusing on living your best life takes on a whole new meaning. Musk does have a few tips for maximizing your potential. You won’t believe how he finds time for the last one.
1. Make sure you get enough sleep
In a Reddit AMA, Musk revealed that he sleeps “almost exactly six hours on average.” Even though many people need about eight hours, the executive’s schedule does fall within a safe range, according to the National Sleep Foundation. “Sleep is really great. I find if I don’t get enough sleep I’m quite grumpy,” he said. “I could drop below a certain threshold of sleep, although I would be awake more hours I would get less done because my mental acuity would be affected.” In order to be your best you, make sure to prioritize shut-eye.
Next: Don’t try to call the executive, for this important reason.
2. Use email and texts to control your own time
If you ever get stuck on conference calls, you know how time consuming they get. For that reason, Musk almost exclusively uses email and text messages, so he does not waste time on the phone. That technique also helps him keep his own schedule. “I’m very good at email,” Musk joked. “That’s my core competency.”
Next: Using email also helps him use the following technique.
3. Multitask whenever possible
If you can do two things at once, you can come closer to Musk’s level of productivity. He told the audience at South by Southwest that multitasking, especially when it comes to email, keeps him on track. “What I find is I’m able to be with them and still be on email. I can be with them and still be working at the same time,” the entrepreneur added. “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to get my job done.” While he received a lot of blowback for not focusing entirely on his kids, it works for him.
Next: This tip helps Musk run several companies at the same time.
4. Always work toward improving yourself
Musk told Mashable he continually ruminates on bettering his work process, even as he works up to 100 hours each week. “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,” he explained. “I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”
Next: The following technique helps Musk understand complex topics.
5. Strive for understanding, not memorization
Musk employs something called the “first principle” to cement difficult concepts in his brain. “It is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree,” he explained. “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.” In other words, he strives to understand the fundamentals of a concept completely, rather than just memorizing it. Do that, and you will see your own education flourish.
Next: This strategy paid off in a big way for the mogul.
6. Don’t fear taking risks
The entrepreneur put his own cash into Tesla when the company got down to its last dollar, which marked a huge risk for Musk. In April 2017, the company blew past Ford and General Motors in value, making Tesla the most valuable car company in America. Today, Tesla weighs in at a $51 billion net worth, compared with $50 billion for GM and $45 billion for Ford. Sometimes a gamble like Musk’s really pays off.
Next: Even the incredibly busy CEO makes time for this priority.
7. Leave time for family
According to Ashlee Vance’s book on Elon Musk, the entrepreneur tries to spend as much time as he can with his five sons. While he does not parent them full-time, his boys regularly visit his factories and accompany their dad on an annual camping trip. “I’m a pretty good dad,” Musk said. “I have the kids for slightly more than half the week and spend a fair bit of time with them. I also take them with me when I go out of town.” It just goes to show, even one of the busiest men around remembers what’s really important. We can all learn something from that.
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