Work-life balance of role models. Can you be as productive as Elon Musk?

work-life balance, daily routine, productivity, role models, Elon Musk, Richard Branson

A list like “37 hacks for better life” appears at least once on anyone’s browser history. However, it is very unlikely that Mozart became a legend, by suddenly following someone’s list of miraculous life hacks. We’re all trying to find that work-life balance by timing our daily routine, so the search for inspiring examples never stops.


Work-life balance of a winner

The world’s first timetable, which everyone was trying to mimic, belongs to Winston Churchill, the prime minister of the United Kingdom. Winston Churchill managed to stick to his routine for many years. Waking up at half past seven, he spent the whole morning reading in the bed. About eleven the minister rose from the bed, washed himself, put himself in order and walked around the garden.

The lunch, consisting of three dishes, began at one o’clock and lasted about an hour. It was attended by all family members and guests. Then, Churchill began to work again. Dinner started at eight in the evening. Afterwards Churchill returned to his office and worked for several more hours. If you constantly have to sacrifice relationships and family for work or official obligations, use Churchill’s schedule.


Work-life balance of a hero

The second example was posted by Richard Branson in his blog. The billionaire assures that he likes to wake up early – “usually around 5 am”. Getting out of bed, Branson first pays a little time to physical activity and breakfast with his family. “I like getting up so early because I can work with email before most of the world goes online,” Branson admits. Between calls and emails Branson catches up with the current news. “I like to visit Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram every day and get feedback,” Branson comments.

To be vigorous, Branson drinks 20 mugs of tea per day. “Do not tell my doctor about it,” he jokes. Branson always carries a notebook with a pen and writes down all the ideas that come to him. The usual day of Richard Branson ends with a dinner in the company of his family, friends or guests. At 11 PM, the founder of Virgin usually goes to sleep. “So the next day I can repeat it all again with minor changes, I need about 6 hours of sleep”.


Work-life balance of a superhuman

At one of the annual shareholders’ meetings, Elon Musk lifted up a curtain on his weekly work schedule. Musk’s view of time management arose interest for many years. How can a person simultaneously manage a number of enterprises and plan one’s retirement on Mars, discussing the advantages of the Overwatch video game on Twitter? Work, work and work again, but not at the expense of sleep. The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX spends most of his time in the office. At the beginning of his career, Musk spent 100 hours a week working, but gradually he managed to reduce to more acceptable number of working hours “80-90 per week.”

Caffeine helps. Musk consumes eight cans of diet cola and several large cups of coffee daily. At the same time, he does not intend to sacrifice night rest. He found that trying to save a couple of hours of sleep leads to a noticeable drop in productivity during the day. Usually he gets up at about 7 am and goes to bed at one in the morning or a little later.

Musk said that he often starts a week in Los Angeles, working on SpaceX projects, leaves for San Francisco on Wednesday night, where he is dedicated to Tesla for the next two days, and finally returns to SpaceX on Friday for the weekend. Nobody knows how much time Musk spends at home, but, according to his interview, his five sons spend about four days a week with their father. The boys regularly visit Musk’s factories in California and every year they go camping with him.


Would it work for me?

Sadly, no. Because first of all Musk works about twice as much as an average American. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average, US citizens aged between 25 and 45 years work 6.3 hours a day. Musk devotes about 12 hours to work a day, every day. He spares 20% to 40% less time to sleep and leisure, than the average American.

Secondly, a couple of years ago the research on reasons for success was conducted in the UK and it has shown, that both internal and external reasons exist. Three main areas related to success appeared to be personal characteristics, planning and organizing your life and financial management. So even working a 100 hours a week wouldn’t turn you into a millionaire. The last, but not the least – personal timetable is a private matter, and the task is basically to find the most effective one for yourself.

Benjamin Franklin, for example, created a special 13-week plan that helps achieve “moral perfection.” Each week was devoted to the development of some habit, beginning with cleanliness and ending with training the power of will. Franklin tested the plan on himself several times and found out that it was ineffective. Throwing aside his ego, he was able to admit defeat and immediately began to draw up a new ideal timetable, in which everything was planned by minutes. Until the end of his days, Franklin continued to modify and supplement the plan in an attempt to achieve even greater efficiency.


The secret ingredient

In Twitter, Musk comments on one more habit: “A little red wine, vintage plates, Zolpidem*… and magic!”. So, even Musk is not made of steel. And most importantly, before stringing yourself to someone’s timetable, remind yourself of Stephen King’s interview to George R. R. Martin. Martin asked how King managed to write so many books in one lifetime. King replied, that he writes three pages a day. Martin objected: “What if there is no inspiration?”, and King answered: “Three. Pages. A day.”

*Zolpidem – sold as the brand name Ambien among others, is a sedative primarily used for the treatment of trouble sleeping. Its hypnotic effects are similar to those of the benzodiazepine class of drugs.



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