What is timeboxing? Decoding Elon Musk’s famous time management technique

arn how dealership leaders can take a play out of Elon Musk's book and effectively leverage the timeboxing method.

There is no doubt billionaire Elon Musk is a very busy entrepreneur seeing as he now owns five companies including Tesla, SpaceX, Twitter (now known as X), The Boring Company, and Neuralink. Many people are in awe of his time management skills, as it can be a daunting task to manage even just one business venture day-to-day. While Musk has admitted he is quite busy and works 80-120 hours a week, he has been able to effectively utilize time management skills including one called timeboxing, which may help other small business owners plan out schedules that work out best for them.

The Essence of Timeboxing

Simply stated, timeboxing is mapping out fixed amounts of time for various tasks throughout the day. Each task is allocated into a time “box,” with larger tasks taking up more boxes than smaller ones. Many entrepreneurs who use this method of time management make these time “boxes” rigid and stick to them, whereas others may allow themselves to alter them to a small scale. However, the goal is to eliminate distractions and keep the focus on the task at hand at all times.

Elon Musk’s Approach to Timeboxing

Musk undoubtedly has a lot on his plate, and he is confident in all of his business ventures. In fact, he once stated that “If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it.” Juggling several prominent corporations requires effective time management, and in this regard, Musk has become a huge proponent of timeboxing. Musk sets time boundaries for each task that he is confident will be effective and makes an immense effort to stick to them.

Timeboxing example from Lucidchart

The Benefits of Timeboxing for Dealership Leaders

Timeboxing certainly seems to work for Musk seeing as his success continues to build, and automotive dealers can also benefit greatly from the technique. Since timeboxing involves allocating specific amounts of time to each task, dealership leaders can foster a sense of enhanced focus and efficiency. Having time “boxes” for different responsibilities like sales meetings, administrative needs, inventory management, and customer service can streamline operations for dealership leaders and help them make sure everything is taken care of. Dealers can also greatly benefit from optimizing resource allocation and utilizing effective prioritization, as productivity can increase and ultimately lead to a better work-life balance for all employees.

Practical Implementation of Timeboxing

The first step to implementing timeboxing effectively is to define clear objectives by identifying key tasks and lining them up in order of importance. Some tasks may be more urgent than others on any given day, and it is crucial to prioritize them and give them the time they need.

This leads to another step in the implementation of timeboxing, which is setting realistic time limits. While it would be nice if everything could be done quickly, that is not the case for most businesses. Consider the complexity of the task, what resources are required, and how much assistance is needed for it (e.g., if several employees will be needed).

While leaders want to stay realistic with time limits, they also do not want to go overboard and allocate too much time to one task. Elon Musk himself once said, “If you give yourself 30 days to clean your house, it will take 30 days. If you give yourself 3 hours, it will take 3 hours.” Finding the proper amount of time for each responsibility can also give a great overview of what a leader’s schedule will look like for any given day.

Timeboxing example from Lucidchart

Distractions during work are a huge issue, and it is critical to eliminate them. Many people find that creating a workspace free of distractions is a great first step to doing so. Even just having a cleared-off and organized desk can help people work more efficiently since there is no clutter to get in their way. Email and phone notifications can be turned off, with many devices now having a “Do Not Disturb” setting that just requires one push of a button to activate. A lot of people are hesitant to set boundaries with their families, friends, and colleagues, but many business leaders have found that communicating to these people that they cannot be interrupted during certain periods of time can greatly reduce distractions.

Of course, it is important to regularly evaluate and refine any processes that have been implemented to assess their effectiveness and identify any challenges that need to be addressed. It is important to note that while timeboxing sets defined schedules, there must also be some flexibility to tweak the strategy if needed.


Elon Musk is one of the most renowned entrepreneurs in history and the timeboxing technique he utilizes has proven to be quite effective for him. Timeboxing allows for unwavering focus and minimal to zero distractions, which enables business leaders to allocate time and resources in the best way possible as well as prioritize the most important tasks while meeting all deadlines. Implementing the timeboxing strategy requires commitment and discipline, but if done the right way it can unquestionably be valuable in boosting efficiency and overall business success.

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Kimberly Hurley
Kimberly Hurley
Kimberly Hurley is a contributing writer and investigative journalist for CBT News, with over a decade of experience specializing in automotive, healthcare, and manufacturing. She enjoys working with industry professionals throughout the world to develop engaging, and accurate content.

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