Tesla. SpaceX. Neuralink. The Boring Company. It’s safe to say that Elon Musk has his hands full. This billionaire CEO is blazing an impressive trail in the world of EVs and renewable markets, and now he’s leading the charge into humanity’s final frontier.
As the founder, CEO, and chief engineer at SpaceX, Musk’s goal is to colonize Mars. With his rocket factories in Hawthorne, CA, and Boca Chica, TX, he works around the clock with teams of engineers to accomplish just that. In December of 2015, SpaceX orchestrated the first landing of an orbital-class rocket on land, essentially changing the game of space travel forever.
Tesla, arguably Musk’s most well-known company, maintains the ambitious goal of transitioning the world to sustainable energy, by way of electric vehicles. The board at Tesla claims that Elon’s leadership is the cause of its rapid growth. The iconic electric vehicles can now be spotted all over the roads, saving the planet and looking super cool while doing it.
Running four companies, all on the cutting edge of innovation and technology, Elon Musk is juggling more than the average person can fully comprehend.
But, as the saying goes, he’s got the same 24 hours each day that we do. So how does he manage all of this? How does he use his time effectively enough to accomplish so much? What does his schedule look like? And what can other entrepreneurs and busy professionals learn from it?
We hear so much about “morning routines” these days, and the importance of crafting one of our own. While Musk’s morning may not be ideal for every person, there is a certain “get-up-and-go” vibe that we find inspiring.
Elon begins every morning at 7 am, after roughly 6-6.5 hours of sleep, which he refers to as his “sweet spot.” More or less sleep than that and he is no longer performing optimally. During a Reddit AMA, Musk said, “Sleep is really great. I find that if I don’t get enough sleep, I’m quite grumpy. I could drop below a certain threshold of sleep, although I would be awake more hours I would get less done because my mental acuity would be affected.”
Eight hours of sleep is the recommended amount, but studies show that each body has its own requirements when it comes to health and wellness, based on internal and external factors.
Although Musk doesn’t seem to be particularly rigid about his mornings, he does have one non-negotiable: a morning shower. He claims that without it, he’s not in the right headspace to have a successful day. His morning showers are where he finds solutions to problems at work or comes up with new ideas.
As for breakfast…it’s not high on Musk’s priority list. He’ll grab a coffee on his way to work and if there’s time, he’ll sometimes have an omelet. Otherwise, he considers breakfast to be an easy thing to skip for the sake of more working hours.
A typical workday for the average person consists of roughly eight hours, with a half-hour lunch. But Elon Musk does not subscribe to such a limiting schedule. Dividing his time between four companies, he works anywhere from 80-100 hours a week, averaging about 16+ hours a day.
He primarily splits his time between Tesla and SpaceX, with Tesla claiming 42 hours of his week and SpaceX claiming 40 hours. During these hours, he’s mostly focused on design and engineering.
Although these days he tries to limit the workweek to around 80-90 hours, there were days that required much more than that. During a particularly rough patch at Tesla, he was working up to 120+ hours, sleeping only a few hours at a time on the factory floor. Musk does not recommend this at all, saying that it was a very dark time in his life. However, it was necessary, as Tesla did pull through in the end.
With such a tight schedule, efficiency is key, which is probably why he’s such a stickler when it comes to staff meetings. In a 2018 email sent to Tesla employees, Musk said “Excessive meetings are the blight of big companies and almost always get worse over time.”
Elon insists that employees only participate in meetings if it's absolutely necessary, and he encourages them to leave the meetings when their expertise is no longer required. Likewise, he is known to multitask during meetings (“batching” as he calls it), often responding to texts or emails, or wolfing down lunch. This ruthless efficiency, while intense, allows Musk to lead his companies toward very impressive milestones.
As for exercise, Musk himself admits that he doesn’t work out as often as he should, and if he could get away with it, he’d never work out at all. But he understands how important exercise is, and he finds time twice a week to lift weights or run on the treadmill. He’s also been known to dabble in jiu-jitsu.
Most of us begin winding down around 6 or 7 pm…but most of us aren’t trying to go to Mars.
Musk usually ends a workday around 10 pm, although recently he’s decided to scale back to spend more time with his family. The father of seven children, Musk makes it a priority to spend evenings and weekends with them and has been known to bring them on work trips—especially the international ones.
Evening meals are where Musk gets most of his caloric intake since, during the day, he's typically too distracted with work to remember to eat. Business dinners, especially, allow him to work and eat. Again, batching.
When Elon finally decides to wind down, he does so by watching anime—specifically Evangelion and Death Note—and reading. Musk has been an avid reader since childhood when he was known to read up to 10 hours each day.
He’s usually asleep by 1 am, allowing him his necessary 6-6.5 hours of sleep, before doing it all again in the morning.
Key Takeaways from Elon Musk’s Schedule
While there are aspects of Musk’s schedule that do not seem ideal—working 100 hours, not eating—there is no denying that Elon has found incredible success. His rigid work ethic has turned fantastical ideas into reality.
For entrepreneurs with lofty goals as well, there must be some practical wisdom to be gleaned from this impressive mogul. Here are a few key takeaways from Elon’s schedule that might help you make meaningful progress on your journey.
- Routines are sacred. Elon begins his mornings the same way. He’s found exactly what works and allows him to perform optimally. His most important morning task? A shower. Find what renews you each morning and make it a habit. Sticking to a consistent morning routine can prepare you for a productive day.
- Limit wasted time. Musk does not tolerate superfluous meetings or discussions that add no value. His primary goal is to solve problems as quickly and efficiently as possible. What areas in your day are actually just wasting your time? Pinpoint these moments and find ways to cut them from your day-to-day.
- When a situation calls for more from you, give more. When Elon had to practically live on the factory floor to pull Tesla through a dark time, he did it. It wasn’t ideal, but it was necessary. There will be moments in your career that require a little more effort. Do you want to accomplish your goals bad enough to put in extra time when it’s needed? Understand when those moments are and be willing to rise to the occasion.
- Find time to read. Even with Musk’s intense schedule, he finds time for one of his favorite hobbies—reading. Reading allows us to grow, broadening our horizons in ways we couldn’t have discovered on our own. But if reading is not the ideal way for you to wind down each day, find out what is and schedule it into your evenings. There must be time for rejuvenation, or eventually, you’ll burn out.
Our time is the most valuable currency we have, and we must understand how to use it wisely. Utilizing tools like Undock can help you optimize your workflow and facilitate more productive days. With AI-driven scheduling, Undock works within your designated rules and limits, keeping you efficient without feeling overwhelmed.
Take a tip from Elon Musk and never waste another minute of your workday.