February 6th 2018, inventor, scientist, entrepreneur Elon Musk launched the world’s most powerful active rocket along with his Tesla sports car into space. For some scientists, this would be the pinnacle of their career but for a guy like Elon Musk, this was just a regular Tuesday.
When he’s not launching rockets into space, the entrepreneur can be found running a futuristic electric car company, selling flamethrowers, and plotting a super-fast underground transport system for Los Angeles, and even offering assistance in foreign emergencies.
From making a video game and selling it for 500$ when he was just 12 years old to envisioning and acting upon making our civilization multi-planetary, these are just some of the qualities I admire about Musk that made me read articles and watched videos of him just to have a peek on how he functions and his principles as a person.
I’ve learned more than these things from the great man, but here are the top 3 that stood out:
#1 Time Management Method: Timeboxing
Timeboxing, or some might call it time blocking, is the practice of setting a fixed amount of time for each task and integrating the resulting time blocks into your schedule. Critics of this method say that scheduling our time in advance essentially makes us robots because we’re adhering to a predetermined plan, but if it’s good enough for visionaries, creatives, billionaires like Elon Musk and even Bill Gates, then I believe it will also benefit many people, especially those who struggle with structuring their time and making it more efficient.
To put it simply: Write out your plans in a calendar, app, white board or a paper, depending on what works best for you, without a start and stop, just the amount of time you will allot to the specific task then move on from it.
This method creates a useful limitation and can lessen the negative side effects of having unstructured free time. As Parkinson’s Law suggests: work tends to expand to fill the allotted time for it.
Another reason why timeboxing can be beneficial is because it eliminates the amount of time we spend just from choosing; prioritizing and scheduling in advance are better than cramming and wasting time with uncalculated actions. Also, because of the limited amount of time, our focus on the work intensifies.
Although this method can undoubtedly be beneficial, we must remember that we are humans with biological and social needs and callings, and are all susceptible to the planning fallacy, which states that human beings tend to make over optimistic predictions on how long things are going to take. Track your time, gauge what works well for you, the only way to know what methods can be most efficient for you is to try.
#2 Don’t Just Follow The Trend
In his own words, following a physics approach rather than reasoning by analogy is the best way to think, we must boil things down to the most fundamental truths we can imagine and we reason up from there. According to Musk, this is a good way to figure out if something really makes sense or if it’s just what everybody else is doing.
The innovator admits that it is hard to think that way and it takes a lot of effort but in retrospect, if we’re try trying to build something new then it’s the best way to think. This powerful framework was developed by physicists to figure out counter intuitive things like quantum mechanics.
Pursue what you desire. I couldn’t even put in the words ‘passion’ or ‘dream’ just for the reason that both involve deep emotions. If what you desire, if your fundamental truth lies on a job, money, or even fame then work from the ground up but make sure that it’s your truth and not because it’s a path commonly traveled or because it’s what social convention dictates.
#3 Overriding Fear
I used to think that fear is a negative emotion, something that exists to cripple my intentions and plans. Trying to get rid of it, of course, is no use. It’s one of the most basic human emotions. From the time we’re infants, we are equipped with this survival instinct that automatically triggers when we sense danger or feel unsafe.
People tend to over weigh fear on a personal level. It definitely adds to the scale when you have for example, a mortgage, kids or a family to support; if you’re trying to deviate from a job then it’s definitely understandable to think twice about it.
Elon Musk admits in an interview that he feels fear quite strongly, more strongly than he would like, but if what he’s doing is important enough then he just overrides the fear.
After hearing his interview, whenever I feel fearful, I just tune my mind to another station. Fear is important because it lets you know what’s important — your job, your relationships, yourself; more than fearing fear itself, use the emotion to evaluate elements in your life.