Elon Musk’s Quick Guide to Productivity: 5 Lessons

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We recently mentioned Elon Musk under our productivity resources list. And the reasons are pretty straightforward. He is the one who gets the work done. He is an incredible power to get the most complicated jobs done.

Elon Musk is arguably one of the most successful as well as a productive person alive. Love him or hate him, he has done some of the almost impossible inventions. And the guy will not stop until he colonizes Mars (well at least he might guide us in the right direction).

Therefore, let’s learn from his habits, practices, mindsets, and philosophies that made him super successful. Here are 5 productivity lessons from none other than Elon Musk.

1. Use your common sense

Perhaps we often underestimate the power of common sense. Your common sense is the first thing that helps you with the new situation or concept.

Therefore, Elon Musk has to say the following about common sense:

“If following a “company rule” is obviously ridiculous in a particular situation … then the rule should change,” says Musk. “In general, always pick common sense as your guide.”

Elon Musk explains that if following a “company rule” is obviously ridiculous in a particular situation, then the rule should be changed. To accomplish this, he suggests using common sense as a guide.

2. Shower every day

That’s right. It’s that simple and Elon said that in a 2015 Reddit AMA. The question was:

“What daily habit do you believe has the largest positive impact on your life?”

To which Elon replied, “Showering.”

At first, this seems rather so basic and cliché. However, think about it for a second. When you shower with cold water, put on new clothes, and smell nice, you send the signal that you care about yourself and have self-respect.

Everything around you becomes easy and refreshing. It’s easier to focus and your work becomes productive. It might lead you to be become more organized as you’d also want other things around you — organized. 

3. Start with the most important tasks

Most people have a habit to start with something easy to get going. Sure, it might help you to light up your mood, but there’s a problem. 

Let’s say you have a difficult problem to solve and you’ve been ignoring that task. Now, when you wake up, you have a fresh mind that is working on its 100% efficiency. Chances are, you’d be able to solve that problem if you started with it first. 

That’s the logic behind this habit of Elon Musk. When you start with something easy or unimportant, your brain gets drained over time, and you lose creativity. 

On the other hand, you can feel relaxed the whole day because you’ve already accomplished the most important task. 

As Elon said in one of his letters:

“Focus on signal over noise. Don’t waste time on stuff that doesn’t actually make things better.”

4. Use stretch goals

Elon is well known for setting up impossible deadlines. That said, a former SpaceX executive offered up this poignant analogy:

“It’s like he has everyone working on this car that is meant to get from Los Angeles to New York on one tank of gas. They will work on the car for a year and test all of its parts. Then, when they set off for New York after that year, all the vice presidents think privately that the car will be lucky to get to Las Vegas. What ends up happening is that the car gets to New Mexico – twice as far as they ever expected – and Elon is still mad. He gets twice as much as anyone else out of people.“ 

This statement says it all. It works like a hack. Stretch goals are mostly too ambitious to get real. However, there’s one huge benefit. You end up getting double what your original goal was. 

For example, if you set up an ambition to score 90% in your next semester although your average is 50%, you might fail. But if you tried so hard, you’d still be able to score around 70 maybe. 

Sometimes we need a goal so ambitious that it can change our lives. Learn from Elon Musk, he was never afraid to achieve the impossible. He made one of the best cars which runs on batteries and he developed reusable rockets. 

5. Widen your knowledge horizon

How many CEOs do you know who understand all the jargon in their company? Musk is one of that rare cofounders who can walk to any employee and would be able to understand his job and guide him. 

He understands science, physics, math, computer science, and engineering which makes him super knowledgeable. He is able to come up with smart solutions because he understands things at a very basic level. 

His breadth of knowledge also allows him to push his team even harder to innovate. And being able to turn the impossible into a reality 

 Returning to the reusable rockets we discussed earlier, Ashlee Vance writes in his book:

“There’s a camp of space experts who think Musk is flat-out wasting his time, and that engineering calculations already prove the reusable rockets to be a fool’s errand. “

Musk has the ability to understand everything going on in his company. He has deep engineering knowledge and skills related to many domains and he is never afraid to learn new things.


Productivity comes from a desire to achieve something. If you are not willing to achieve BIG like Elon Musk, you might not get motivated enough to be productive.

Everybody has time to learn new skills, improve their knowledge and dream something worth dreaming. But how many of us actually work for it.

The first rule of productivity is to work hard. And time and again, Elon Musk has proved this theory with his crazy capacity to work more. Therefore, no matter how smart you’re, you’d always have to put in plenty of hours to move from point A to B.

We hope that everybody can learn something from Elon Musk. With that, keep working and be productive!

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