By Taylor Locke
Everyone has the same amount of time in a day as people like Elon Musk, who is CEO of not just Tesla, but also SpaceX, The Boring Company and Neuralink, and Jack Dorsey, who is CEO of both Twitter and Square.
So how do such busy billionaire founders like Musk and Dorsey manage their days? Here are Musk’s, Dorsey’s and other successful business leaders’ tips on maximizing productivity.
Research has shown that most managers believe meetings kill productivity: 65% of senior managers say meetings keep them from completing their own work, according to a survey from Harvard Business School and Boston University, and 71% of 182 managers surveyed said they find meetings to be unproductive and inefficient.
When it comes to meetings, Jack Dorsey has a non-traditional approach that he believes speeds up the critical thinking process, as Resume.io points out.
“Most of my meetings are now Google doc-based, starting with 10-minutes of reading and commenting directly in the doc,” Dorsey tweeted in 2018. “This practice makes time for everyone to get on same page, allows us to work from many locations, and gets to truth/critical thinking faster.”
Most of my meetings are now Google doc-based, starting with 10-minutes of reading and commenting directly in the doc. This practice makes time for everyone to get on same page, allows us to work from many locations, and gets to truth/critical thinking faster. Good thread 👇🏼 https://t.co/YRsxT3kMAZ— jack 🌍🌏🌎 (@jack) April 20, 2018
The social media exec referenced a Twitter thread by Steven Sinofsky, the former Windows Division President at Microsoft, to support his Google Doc method. Sinofsky explained the potential up-side to writing during meetings as opposed to traditional ones.
“Writing is more inclusive,” Sinofsky said. “It is easier to contribute, doesn’t reward bullies and bulls—ers, and allows for contemplation.”
Elon Musk starts his day with his most critical work and schedules the rest of his day based on priority.
“Focus on signal over noise,” Musk said at the University of Southern California Commencement Speech in 2014. “Don’t waste your time on stuff that doesn’t actually make things better.”
One of the ways he does this is by eliminating as many meetings as he can.
“Excessive meetings are the blight of big companies and almost always get worse over time,” the CEO shared in a letter to employees regarding productivity in 2018. “Get rid frequent meetings, unless you are dealing with an extremely urgent matter.”
If you must have a meeting, Musk says “be certain [you are] providing value to the whole audience.” Musk also advises his employees to “walk out or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren’t adding value.”
It’s not rude to leave meetings that are not providing any value, he says.
It’s important to make “high-quality, high-velocity” decisions, according to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. That’s because “speed matters in business,” he said in his 2016 letter to shareholders.
“Most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70 percent of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90 percent, in most cases, you’re probably being slow.”
In fact, whether you make the right decision can actually be less important than making one quickly, according to Bezos.
“Many decisions are reversible, two-way doors— for those, so what if you’re wrong?”
You need to be good at quickly correcting bad decisions, he said, but “if you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.”
Amazon “is determined to keep our decision-making velocity high” not only because it’s important, said Bezos, but also because a “high-velocity decision making environment is more fun too.”
“Focusing is about saying ‘no,’” the late Apple co-founder said during the company’s 1997 Worldwide Developers Conference.
“Focus means saying ‘no’ to the hundred other good ideas,”so you have decide what it makes sense to spend time and energy on, and what doesn’t, Jobs said.
In fact, billionaire Warren Buffett shares Jobs’ mindset, once saying “the difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”
“Meditation is simply exercise for the mind, similar to the way we exercise our muscles when we play sports,” he said.
The Microsoft co-founder, who meditates “two or three times a week, for about 10 minutes each time,” said that meditation teaches him “how to pay attention to the thoughts in my head, and [gain] a little bit of distance from them,” improving his concentration.