The Tesla and SpaceX CEO said work-life balance ‘is not’ realistic.
When work is your life, it’s hard to find balance.
Arianna Huffington wants Elon Musk to start practicing work-life balance, but the billionaire business mogul says that’s simply not an option for his hectic 24/7 work schedule.
Musk, who called it quits at 2:32 a.m. on Sunday night after a late night in the Tesla factory, tweeted to Huffington that his electric car company and Ford are the only two American car companies to avoid bankruptcy, referencing the reasons for his non-stop work ethic.
“I just got home from the factory. You think this is an option. It is not,” he wrote after Huffington penned an open letter to him on her website ThriveGlobal Friday, urging him to slow down and take some time off. The letter was in response to Musk telling the New York Times last week that he’s exhausted from working 120-hour weeks, often going without seeing his children and friends, and forgoing vacation time.
Ford & Tesla are the only 2 American car companies to avoid bankruptcy. I just got home from the factory. You think this is an option. It is not.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 19, 2018
“There’s no way you can connect with your amazing vision and creativity when you don’t give yourself time to reconnect not just with those you love, but also with yourself and your wisdom,” Huffington wrote on her website Thriveglobal.com.
She’s right. Being overworked can actually stifle creativity. Studies show that being constantly busy has a negative effect on your brain. Researchers at the University in Israel found that doing nothing for a few moments during the day and taking time to unplug without thinking so hard is ideal to replenish motivation and regain focus. And, as Huffington notes, a separate study suggests that after 17 to 19 hours without sleep, people begin to experience levels of cognitive impairment similar to a blood alcohol level of .05 percent, or just under the limit for being legally drunk. So going to bed at a reasonable hour is also advised.
For workaholics like Musk who may not have the luxury of taking an extra vacation day here and there, busy business execs say that it’s important to make your workday less stressful and more enjoyable.
“I don’t believe in the idea of work-life balance. I don’t think work and life are that separate,” Libby Leffler, VP of Membership at SoFi told Moneyish. “You bring who you are to the office, and that’s why it’s so important to have tricks for things you can do during the work day. It’s not just what you do at the beginning of the day or end of the day that matters, but what you can do habitually throughout the day to be more productive, feel more fulfilled and feel your very best.”
Here are some realistic tips on how to take a few moments for yourself during the hectic work day and make the most out of it:
Prep. It’s like meal prep, but for your work calendar. Leffler suggests taking five to 10 minutes out of your weekend — whether it be Saturday or Sunday — to go over your schedule for the following week and see what you can prepare for in advance to shave off time. If it’s a meeting, ask yourself if you need to have an agenda. Or if you need to answer a few emails, get them done and resume your weekend.
“Ask yourself what are things you can do to preserve and protect the time on your calendar so you’re not going into the week blind. You’re freeing up that time to be more creative or to have the free time to do more work,” Leffler says.
Breathe. It sounds obvious, but taking a minute to focus on your breath after a chaotic meeting or opening your email to an overwhelming inbox can keep you feeling less stressed. Scientific research shows that concentrating on deep breathing exercises disengages your brain from distracting thoughts while also decreasing anxiety.
“There are tough conversations and gritty topics that might be tense,” noted Leffler. “If I find myself in those moments, I proactively focus on taking a step back, closing a door, or going into the bathroom to just breathe,” she adds of taking some time out, sometimes for as little as five minutes every few hours during the work day.
Sometimes that means putting on her headphones for a few minutes to listen to the app Calm, a soothing meditation app with music; or opening Apple Breathe on her Apple Watch, which guides users through deep breaths between one and five minutes. If you don’t have either, setting an alarm on your phone and then taking three to five minutes to just focus on taking deep breaths can also work wonders, Leffler said adding: “Set a reminder for yourself on the calendar a couple times a day and prompt yourself to do this on your own. It’s not enough to do it one time.”
Eat lunch away from your desk. Coffee doesn’t count as a meal, Leffler notes, and neither does a sad desk lunch browsing through emails. Leffler says using 10 minutes to get up and either eat your lunch at a table with a colleague or alone at a table can break up the day or give you the social interaction you need.
Research from organizational behavior professor Kim Elsbach at the University of California suggests that eating at your desk can undermine the benefit of taking a break because being at your desk triggers work mode cues. Other studies show that the social interaction you get from taking a lunch break with a friend or colleague throughout the day can give you more energy to be productive when you get back to your desk.
Make time for yourself. Set a standing reminder for “me time” once every week — even if it’s just for a half hour — to do whatever you want will allow you to get something done you enjoy, whether it’s a new workout, time for creative writing or happy hour with a friend.
“It can seem so luxurious in a way to take time out of your day to do something for you. Every Wednesday for 45 minutes you can read the latest book you’re crazy about, for example. Put your phone on “do not disturb” and make time to read it,” Leffler says.
Once you figure out what it is you want to do, make it a recurring event in your calendar so you hold yourself accountable and don’t miss it. “It keeps you honest, and you’re looking forward to it,” Leffler says.
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