Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

How Tesla boss Elon Musk works up to 100 hours a week

These are the secrets behind his productivity

Zlata Rodionova
Wednesday 27 January 2016 12:48 GMT
CEO and founder Elon Musk speaks at a SpaceX press conference
CEO and founder Elon Musk speaks at a SpaceX press conference (Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

Elon Musk, CEO of leading electric car company Tesla and private space transport company SpaceX is a very busy man and a notorious workaholic.

“Creating a company is almost like having a child,” Musk explained.

“It’s almost like, how do you say your child should not have food?” he said during an interview with a Danish television.

The 44 year-old tech billionaire, actively involved in the mission to get to Mars and potentially live there, is said to be working an impressive 85 to 100 hours per week to achieve its goals.

These are the secrets behind his productivity , according to Patrick Hankinson, the founder of Hello Focus, a software which helps you to be more effective at work. His answers were first published on Quora.

1. Batch

Batching is known as combining several tasks together, which might come handy if you are planning an 18-hour day.

“While you’re poring over spreadsheets, there’s no reason you can’t be answering emails, especially those that might require you to look up a few figures; you’ve already got the spreadsheets out,” Hankison said.

Musk doesn’t even take a 30 minute lunch break. Instead, he combines it with meetings and emails to maximise productivity.

2. Don’t spend money on things that don’t matter

Musk focuses all its efforts on making the product better.

His secret is to concentrate on selling a better product instead of losing time on advertising.

“The best marketing in the world will have a hard time selling a less-than-desirable product. Besides, as Tesla has proven, there’s no need for a marketing budget when your product sells itself,” Hankinson said.

3. Seek feedback

Musk is constantly looking at how to self-improve by asking questions to advisers he trusts.

Keeping your ideas fresh by listening to consistent and truthful feedback is the best piece of advice the entrepreneur has to offer, according to Hankinson.

“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. I think that's the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself," Musk said in an interview with Mashable.

4. Work around an organised schedule

Musk’s secret of being successful at his job is having a very tight schedule which focuses on productivity.

The entrepreneur’s top aide has his daily planner broken into five minutes slots.

“He saves hours by bringing the work to him,” Hankinson said.

5. Surround yourself with talented people

Musk brings the highest level of talent to his team and expects them to be prepared for anything he might ask them, which in return increases the company’s productivity.

“Not only does this help to ensure that his employees know the complexities of a high-capacity battery cell or a space rocket inside and out, it also saves him time by not waiting for answers that someone should have already known,” Hankinson said.

6. Do not be afraid of taking risks

Elon Musk is not afraid to take risks.

The entrepreneur put his own cash into Tesla when the company was down to its last dollar and it paid off. The pioneering car maker said in January it delivered 17,400 vehicles during the fourth quarter of 2015, in line with its forecasts, and a total of 50,580 for the year.

Tesla has been the US pioneer in luxury electric cars at the time when global adoption of electric vehicles has been slow.

If you are not sure about taking risks, “schedule it out” Hankinson advises.

“Create a carefully laid out roadmap to your goal and determine if it’s achievable,” Hankinson said.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in