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The unorthodox productivity hacks of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg

The unorthodox productivity hacks of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg
The leaders of the biggest companies on the planet are always trying to figure out what to do with their time, and it seems they all have come to one conclusion: work. Approaching their ambitions with a single-minded intensity, none works less than 70 hours a week, including weekends, even at the expense of aspects of life other people value.


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Mark Zuckerberg is noted for his simple way of living.

  • He is well known for his identical grey t-shirts and hoodies he wears through the workweek to help him expend little energy on what to wear.
  • He keeps his residence just a few blocks away from the offices, where he works up to 15 hours a day.




Emails and reading lists

Emails and reading lists
Bill Gates hacks his email with a larger three-monitor display area. One set is on the emails he's working on, and the last screen for a regular desktop. This way, he can multi-task more successfully.
He goes on an annual Think Week to a cabin in the woods to completely unplug. He takes with reams of documents and books. This way he gets a year's worth of reading and thinking in a week. He also goes over his past year and plans for the future.





Elon Musk has three executive job titles, five kids, and is wildly ambitious. He officially clocks in no more than 15 hours at the office but has said he doesn't ever stop working. With this schedule, he still averages 6 hours of sleep a night.

He multitasks by sending emails while scanning invoices, holds meetings and takes care of business on his phone at the same time, and texts with his children on his lap.




The Anomaly Of Bad Events

The Anomaly Of Bad Events
  • Bad news, like a catastrophic event, war, or death, happens quickly and instantly, and spreads like wildfire. A bad event does not take time to manifest,

The Compounding Effect of News

Heart disease has declined 1.5 percent per year, and if that news is on the internet, it is not likely to go viral. But what is overlooked is the compounding effect, which is invisible in the short run, and only noticeable after 15 to 20 years.

Good News: Too Slow To Notice

New technologies often take decades to become mainstream. A trickle of growth, progress or innovation does not create a ripple or spike in most people's lives.

Example: Netflix stock has grown exponentially in the last 20 odd years, but almost none of the investors have benefited entirely from it, as the progress has been too slow to be noticed.

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Two of the biggest innovations

Two of the biggest innovations

Two of the biggest innovations of modern times are cars and airplanes. At first, every new invention looks like a toy. It takes decades for people to realise the potential of it.

Innovation is driven by incentives

There are three types of incentives:

  1. "If I don't figure this out, I might get fired." It will get you moving.
  2. "If I figure this out, I might help people and make a lot of money." It will produce creativity.
  3. "If we don't figure this out now, our very existence is threatened." Militaries deal with this, and it will fuel the most incredible problem-solving and innovation in a short time.

During World War II, there was a burst of scientific progress that took place. The government was in effect saying that if a discovery had any possible war value, then it had to be developed and put in use, regardless of the expense.

The conditions for big innovations to happen

The biggest innovations seldom happen when everyone's happy or safe. They happen when people are a little panicked and worried, and when they have to act quickly.

In 1932, the stock market fell by 89%. It was an economic disaster where almost a quarter of Americans were out of work. However, the 1930s was also the most productive and technologically progressive decade in history. Economist Alex Field writes that in 1941, the U.S. economy produced almost 40 percent more output than it had in 1929, with little increase in labor hours or private-sector capital input.

Three different sides of risk

  • The odds you will get hit.
  • The average consequences of getting hit.
  • The tail-end consequences of getting hit.

The first two are...

The tail-end consequences

The tail-end consequences of an action or event (those with low-probability, high-impact) are all that matter.

In investing, the average consequences of risk make up most of the daily news headlines. But the tail-end consequences of risk (for example, pandemics and depressions) are what make the pages of history books.