This question originally appeared on Quora: How does Elon Musk divide his time between the three businesses? What strategies does he use to manage these three businesses simultaneously? Answer by Ashlee Vance, Bestselling author, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX & the Quest for a Fantastic Future.
Elon divides his time pretty much evenly these days between SpaceX and Tesla. He starts out in LA at the beginning of the week dealing with SpaceX, then heads to Silicon Valley mid-week for Tesla, and then back to deal with SpaceX on Thursday evening and Friday. In truth, Friday is a mixed day because the Tesla Design Studio is in LA, and Elon meets with the design team each week for a few hours.
Elon is the chairman of SolarCity and attends board meetings and helps out with some announcements, but he does not deal with day-to-day operations there by any means.
The absolute truth is that Elon works seven days a week almost every week and goes wherever he feels most needed. If Tesla has a major issue, for example, it’s very common for him to head back north for the weekend and work Saturday and Sunday at Tesla. He also communicates at all hours of the day. Based on my dealings with him, he seems to be offline from about midnight to 4 am but is otherwise answering questions the rest of the time.
A number of people have written to me trying to find out what secret apps he uses to manage his time. I don’t have anything very satisfying to report there. I know that he keeps meticulous track of how much time he spends in meetings, flying, etc. and analyzes spreadsheets on this data at the end of each year.
I give the man credit for being so relentless with his work ethic. From Zip2 and PayPal through to today, there’s the common thread of Elon out-working everyone. I don’t know how he keeps it up and am not sure it’s good for him.
Pity the CEOs at rival automotive and aerospace companies because I don’t think they fully grasp what they’re up against.
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