It’s not easy to run a business, let alone run three at once. Elon Musk is the CEO of automaker Tesla, aerospace company SpaceX and brain chip company Neuralink. He is also the founder of The Boring Company. Musk pushes himself to the limit to keep the overview. He says he works eighty to a hundred hours a week and only sleeps six hours a night. During meetings, Musk gets rid of his emails. He does that even when he spends time with his kids, he says. No breakfast or phone calls
Musk is known for being frugal with his time. He splits his workdays into five-minute chunks to effectively divide the work for his companies. Musk often skips his breakfast, eats his lunch in five minutes and avoids phone calls as much as possible.
Previously, I tried the email productivity hack of former Google CEO Eric Schmidt (without much success). So I thought maybe I could learn something from Musk’s hack as well. I divided my time for a few days like the CEO of Tesla. Admittedly, I didn’t go as far as Musk did. I smuggled the rules: I just ate breakfast and didn’t work 16-hour workdays (some say extremely long working hours are counterproductive). I planned my workday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in five-minute blocks.
Working days with blocks of 5 minutes
Productivity gurus swear by blocking time to get certain tasks done. But Musk takes this to the extreme. This requires a lot of preparation. It’s practically impossible to really get anything done in five minutes. Except maybe answering an email or posting a social media message. Musk once told venture capital Y-Combinator that he spends 80 percent of his time on engineering and design work. So it’s unlikely he’ll actually stick to his five-minute per task limit.
I managed to partly organize days around those five minutes. But for the most part I glued those pieces together. For example, I spent twelve five-minute slots on elaborating an interview. I also planned breaks and administrative tasks. It felt organized and I did a lot more
In his busy schedule, Elon Musk also has time to laugh every now and then. Photo Hannibal Hanschke-Pool/Getty Images
I often work on tasks longer than necessary, or than I thought beforehand. For example, I repeatedly rewrite the same sentences. Limiting the time I have for certain tasks helped me finish faster. Knowing that I only had an hour to do a task allowed me to focus more on work.I had to constantly adjust myself and that was annoying
Sometimes you have no control over how and when you get answers to requests you send out. Or the unexpected work a colleague saddles you with. And in a few cases I realized that I had been way too ambitious in blocking time for a task. I needed more time than I initially thought. This meant that I was constantly adjusting my schedule. I pushed tasks ahead or to the next day as the new tasks piled up. Planning is probably easier when you realize how much time tasks really take. But at the start of the ride this was terribly annoying. I also started planning less and less blocks, so that I had more flexibility in a day. I’m going to keep some things
Overall, Elon Musk’s way of organizing days is just a little too complicated for most employees. But I do include a few elements in my own daily routine. Such as tightly scheduling time for certain tasks, so that I can actually complete them and feel much more organized and productive at the end of my working day. ALSO READ: 29-year-old marketer built a bot that answers questions from recruiters – he was offered a job 11 times.