Who’s The Better Time Planner: Bezos or Musk?

In my book The Time-Optimized Life, I look at the ways in which Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk manage their time. They have two very different and productive approaches.

Bezos and Musk are two highly productive people. They represent examples of time-industrious managers. As each assumed greater responsibilities and the nature of their roles changed, they enhanced and adapted their use of time to the changing priorities tied to their growing businesses.

Each man started small and now dominate their particular areas (with a little crossover, only between SpaceX and Blue Origin), have time management figured out, but it was a process. Jeff Bezos spent countless hours perfecting his fulfillment model. Elon Musk needed to figure out where best to allocate his efforts. I would bet that they are still amending and reworking set routines.

So, who does it better? Let’s apply it against the model of time optimization, which looks at 5 distinct categories: planning, task management, focus, organization, and personal care.

Planning

Time-optimized planning involves setting strong personal goals, mapping ahead (which takes work of the present and projects outcomes into the future), the efficiency of meetings (as a participant and as a facilitator) and completing assignments.

Bezos rarely focuses on the short-term but is always looking ahead, daily tasks are left to others.

Back in 2017, Musk did the ultimate planning exercise and developed a list of everything he says he will accomplish by 2030.

Slight advantage: Musk

Task Management

To be an effective task manager one must have the ability to even create a list (yes, many people have not defined tasks in their lives, prioritizing that list, and giving up on the idea of being able to multitask.

Musk divides his time into 5-minute slots to get his work done and sets them on his calendar by priority.

Bezos looks at defining the scope of the tasks and what the “good” results will look like to understand what it will take to complete.

Slight advantage: Bezos

Focus

The biggest time management challenge for the average person, focus consists of procrastination, motivation, distractions, interruptions, talking too much, and saying no.

The Amazon, Bezos made his focus on the customer, and that was and has been the driving force for his company.

Musk focuses on signal over noise. He will not waste time on anything that does make things better.

Both do focus well.

Organization

Time-optimized organization revolves around a general sense of organization (things are neat and you can get at them quickly), there is a calendar used, and a dedication to finish what gets started.

Musk uses timeboxing which is a methodical system (using a calendar) to align tasks and schedules to provide bursts of productivity.

Bezos organizes with a long-term approach, looking at and organizing his personal life about two years out.

Slight advantage: Musk

Personal Care

Often forgotten in tis relation to time optimization, personal care highlights getting enough sleep (between 7 to 9 hours), exercising regularly, taking regular breaks, and having a dedicated spiritual practice.

Bezos is a personal care enthusiast and has undergone a physical change because of his efforts.

Musk is active but has had a much less structured and consistent personal care regimen.

Advantage: Bezos

Who is the winner?

Generally, the way that Jeff Bezos spends his time today is more in-line with the average person. Now, there are only a small number of people that have the resources at their disposal to basically do whatever they want. But, if you are trying get structure in your life, then he is the one to emulate.

However, if you are trying to get hyper focused on the professional side of life with a desire to accomplish something significant, well then Elon Musk can provide you with an example. Again, he has the money to really do what he likes, so keep that in mind.

Ultimately, the best path is to chart your own course. Identify your strengths and lean into them with a continuous improvement attitude. Acknowledge your weaknesses and strive to minimize their impact on your life. Then, you’ll be the one who is better and the winner.

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David Buck is the author of the book “The Time-Optimized Life, owner of Kairos Management Solutions, LLC, and founder of the Infinity Lifestyle Design program. As a certified professional retirement coach (CPRC), David works with financial services providers helping their clients create a post-career lifestyle strategy. To learn more, contact him at dave@kmstime.com or visit Infinity Lifestyle Design.

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