Elon Musk Productivity Secrets And Rules
In just 10 years, Tesla has become an internationally recognized automaker, largely thanks to its enthusiastic CEO, Elon Musk.
It turns out that Elon Musk has some ruthless productivity tricks, and he shared them in a letter to Tesla employees.
ImportantTo succeed against large, entrenched competitors in a legacy market, Elon Musk has repeatedly said that Tesla needs to work harder and think differently.
Elon Musk puts a lot of effort into productivity.
Running two engaging companies like Tesla and SpaceX is no easy task for an average human. This is what makes him an exceptionally skilled professional.
Elon Musk is very intelligent and successful person with a lot of pursuits and ambitions.
I believe that each of us can incorporate something from his productivity secrets to make our daily lives better.
Now the question comes, how to be as productive as Elon Musk. That is what we are here for. We reveal some of the things Elon Musk does to be more productive and it is just astounding!
Dodge Large Meetings
In one interview, Elon Musk said that a typical meeting at Tesla should involve no more than four to six people. Managerial experts agree with this line of thinking.
When conducting a meeting, basically cut the fat.
ImportantIf a specific topic isn’t relevant to all attendees at a meeting then they will sit there thinking of all the better things that they could be doing.
Before you send out your next invite list, ask yourself:
- Who on this list will add (or receive) the most value?
- Is there anyone who doesn’t need to be there?
Questions like these can help you trim your meeting size down to must-have attendees — allowing everyone else to focus on more productive work.
Elon Musk avoids unnecessary meetings. He encourages his employees to do the same.
WarningIf he pays attention to meetings, his brain will get stuffed with thoughts. That’s why the refusal to attend meetings works excellent for his productivity.
My own conviction is that a lot of the work that is done in meetings can be done with quick conversations with the ‘bit players’ — the people with only a minor skin in the game.
For the person who runs three companies, time is really what matters.
ImportantElon Musk carefully goes through his schedule, as there is no option to waste time. His schedule is very detailed and he divided it into 5 minutes chunks.
There is always an important aspect-prioritizing and it rarely is attending boring meetings.
Typifying his demanding style of leadership, Elon Musk commented once that “Meetings are what happens when people aren’t working.”
Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder and CEO, employs the “two-pizza rule” to cut down on meeting bloat. Meetings should be small enough that two pizzas would feed the entire group. If not, the meeting would probably be too big and unproductive.
Ditch Frequent Meetings
Anyone who’s worked for a large organization will recognize the value in this rule. Often meetings are put on the schedule to deal with a high-priority issue.
But just as often, once that issue is dealt with, the meeting stays recurring.
WarningEven if this happens only once or twice before the moderator catches it and adjusts, time has been wasted and other higher-priority issues pushed to the side.
Before you schedule your next invite, ask yourself:
- How urgent is the need behind this meeting?
- Can I reduce the frequency of this meeting?
- Can I communicate updates via email or group chat?
If so, you’ll save everyone time and increase the value of the meetings you do have.
Make an agenda and then schedule to that agenda. If your meeting will only take 17 minutes, schedule it from 10:00 to 10:17. It shows you put some thought into it and aren’t wasting people’s time.
Have meetings only as often as you NEED them.
WarningSome projects get meetings on the calendar, and then there is little progress. Meetings then rapidly become a waste of time.
For the same reason, Elon Musk tries to have asynchronous communication.
ImportantHe likes to keep things in his own terms. Which is why he prefers email as a mode of communication.
This helps him avoid all the unnecessary distraction. And focus on the work concerning his companies and nothing else.
Not enough time in the day? Maybe it’s time to look at cutting down that is not important (even if it might seem important). When considering holding a meeting, always ask yourself how urgent it is – could the objectives be achieved through email or a group chat?
Add Value Or Leave Meetings
But what if you’re invited to a meeting, and you realize you shouldn’t be there? “Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren’t adding value,” Elon Musk wrote.
Most companies would probably find this rule shocking, but it’s actually brilliant.
ImportantWhen team leads and team members alike recognize this rule as beneficial, and set the right example in using it tactfully, it can help build authenticity and transparency in an organization.
The key is to build this rule into the meeting culture.
WarningIf your meetings regularly include attendees who are glued to their phones because they’re bored out of their minds, consider whether you can start applying this rule to your team.
It is not rude to leave a meeting. It is rude to make someone stay and waste their time.
It needs a cultural change to do this though. The idea is that you have to re-frame it to think that it is more rude to waste a person’s time than it is to leave a meeting.
At a sublevel, Elon Musk requires that everyone who attends his meetings is prepared.
And by this, he doesn’t just mean have a pen and paper at hand. He expects his attendees to have contributions that are well researched and game ready.
Elon Musk wants proactive preparation instead of a phoned-in, preparation by numbers exercise.
ImportantThe sheer force of Elon Musk’s personality makes it very difficult for an employee who isn’t prepared to answer a follow-up question or otherwise demonstrate that they’ve done their homework.
Don’t agree with meetings unless you are sure of getting something out of it. Or the meeting being important than your work. This will help you focus on your work. Which much helps in becoming more productive.
Elon Musk doesn’t want a load of hyperbole and filler content at his meetings. He expects coherency based on base-level facts.
Elon Musk famously articulates a paradigm of “First Principles.”
WarningIf something sounds complicated and daunting, he expects it to be stripped back so that all in attendance can make sense of the information being disseminated to them.
This paradigm refers also to his reliance on basic truths and facts rather than on comparisons to what’s already been done.
ImportantWhen Elon Musk holds meetings, he expects his team to break down a topic into its molecular facts and then present those in a coherent way.
He relies on his team to not only think outside the box but to deconstruct and analyze the whole way the box is put together.
Keep things short. If you can explain your thought in one sentence and it’s understandable, then do it. You don’t need to overdo anything. Focus on the intent.
Elon Musk is just fond of emails. He is always there, communicating through emails.
And the messages aren’t those formal letters. They are very informal and fun to read. No word can be missed, every word counts.
His messages are very much clear to the point and concise.
ImportantHe uses simple words, nothing fancy in the emails. So, it gets easy to communicate with others.
Avoid squishy words: Don’t use the passive voice, or phrases as “probably”, “maybe”, “I’m not sure”. It will show your audience that you are not sure about this business, so why should they?
A major source of issues is poor communication between depts. The way to solve this is allow free flow of information between all levels.
If you need to get in touch with someone, do so directly.
ImportantElon Musk encourages employees to buck the traditional chain of command found in most companies, in which messages always flow through managers.
Elon tries to hire people who are ready to be faithful employees and give reasonable feedback.
WarningWhere most visionaries talk about dismissing the opinions of others, Elon Musk is different. He looks to his colleagues for open, transparent communication and feedback.
As being humans, our nature doesn’t like to be criticized.
Although, according to Musk you have to deal with preferably negative feedback. You can get a lot more out of it.
According to Elon Musk, the best way to enforce straightforward communication is to speak to whomever you need, whenever you need, because it best serves the company.
As Elon Musk apparently recognized, poor communication can set everyone back.
WarningEven when your company is at the forefront of technology and space exploration, communication should not seem like an afterthought.
All companies say they value transparency and honesty. Most are lying.
Communication that is forced to go through the “proper channels” is a recipe for killing great ideas; and burying the feedback a company needs to thrive.
Bend The Rules
Believing that everyone is gifted with common sense, Elon Musk encourages employees to ignore company rules, and follow their own logic and intuition instead.
When this is relevant, employees are to disregard company procedure and figure out how to proceed for themselves.
ImportantAcknowledging that some company rules may seem ridiculous and unable to be applied to every situation, he believes that situations should be compared to a Dilbert cartoon.
Admittedly this is more of a nod from Elon Musk about what he values in an employee and the culture he prefers to operate in and is perhaps a welcome respite from his laser-sharp focus on productivity.
The human tendency for imitation is a common roadblock to ‘First Principles’ thinking.
When most people envision the future, they project the current form forward rather than projecting the function forward and abandoning the form.
If you want to enhance an existing process or belief, continuous improvement is a great option. If you want to learn how to think for yourself, reasoning from first principles is one of the best ways to do it.
This difference is one of the key distinctions between continuous improvement and first principles thinking.
WarningContinuous improvement tends to occur within the boundary set by the original vision. By comparison, first principles thinking requires you to abandon your allegiance to previous forms.
Watching Elon Musk is like watching a no-holds barred TV reality show. Elon Musk has a reputation for being notoriously difficult to please and has been known to foster a downright unusual work culture.
In particular, Elon Musk approaches meetings the same way he approaches every aspect of his work.
ImportantWith his fiercely driven personal style, he has elevated the practice of efficient meetings to a science by following the aforementioned rules and best practices.
Elon Musk dreams big, works long hours, and takes many risks. The tools he uses to stay productive allow him to do that.
WarningNot all of us can design a rocket or work 100 hours a week, but we can use these tools to see how our dreams and lives can become more productive.
You can try adopting these habits and follow his actions.
With time you will see the changes yourself. Surely these aren’t easy to take up but not impossible either.
I hope that these productivity secrets and rules of Elon Musk will help you to find your successful path. Let me know in the comments section below your thoughts about this essential topic.
Digital Dandy. Hacker From Heart. Workaholic. Coding Artist. Self-made.