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Top hacks for boosting productivity from Elon Musk to his employees at Tesla

Posted by Shivali Anand

June 9, 2021    |     3-minute read (597 words)

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, Tesla and The Boring Company and CEO and chief engineer of Neuralink and OpenAI, is arguably the world’s most famous and admired entrepreneur. Musk’s reputation for being a stickler about productivity has undoubtedly contributed to his success.

To that end, Musk says he has learned to simply divvy up his time among his main tasks, explaining that it is the only method that works for him to maintain productivity. In a leaked email he sent to Tesla employees about productivity in the company’s early days, he shared hacks for helping employees get more done. We share Musk’s top six productivity tips below.

  1. Begin your day with the most essential task.

Being the CEO of many different companies is incredibly complex and stressful. To succeed in this role or any other important duty in life, he advises that you must put all of your energy toward the most important projects first. "Focus on the things that make a difference, so, do not waste your time on stuff that doesn't actually add any value,” he once remarked.

  1. Turn criticism into opportunity.

Musk says the ability to accept criticism and constantly evaluate yourself to improve spurs growth, while accepting what you already know and resisting others’ input keeps you living in the past. While it’s never enjoyable to receive negative feedback, the key is to turn it into something positive by looking at it as an opportunity for growth.

Practice accepting negative feedback as a strategy for managing workplace conflicts, increasing job satisfaction and enhancing performance, he advises.

  1. Exercise asynchronous ways of communication.

Communicate directly with the person you wish to communicate with instead of following a hierarchy, Musk says. In addition, employ these hacks to avoid unnecessary and time-consuming factors:

  • Try to avoid all distractions and focus on your work, not on social media. The best way to focus when working is to turn off notifications for email, social media and any other apps you have on your mobile device.
  • Work remotely if you cannot concentrate in the noise of a busy office environment, as your results may be twice as effective.
  • Use in-person meetings only if they are sure to fulfill the desired outcomes. Otherwise, use the phone.
  1. Get to the root cause of problems. 

Look at the fundamentals of the problem you face, construct your reasoning from that perspective, and then see if you can derive a conclusion that makes sense. When you are stuck on a problem, think critically about the reasons behind it and don't repeat them only to get the same outcome.

  1. Learn to master communication.

As a public speaker, Musk has a unique ability to explain complex concepts in a seemingly effortless yet easily understood manner. In daily life, he says that emails are the most efficient way to communicate. When people correspond over emails, no word can be missed; every word counts.

Musk’s tips for email:

  • Before writing the email, think about the outcome you want.
  • Keep it short. Don't write several sentences when you can say the same information in three lines.
  • Avoid “squishy” words, don't use the passive voice and eliminate phrases like maybe, probably or I'm not sure. The latter three practices make you come across as uncertain.

6 Multitasking.

Musk employs a productivity trick he calls batching. He aims to combine many tasks to make them more time-efficient, such as combining meal time with checking email. The takeaway hack here is to find the work or things that can be batched together and performed simultaneously

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