How can you use Elon Musk’s design principles to make your life better?

In an interview with The Everyday Astronaut (video below) Elon Musk outlined his 5 step process to making things in a better way. A lot of engineers who’ve responded to it were blow away by the directness and simplicity of these rules. Even though they were created for engineers and designers I thought they might apply well to make a good and enjoyable life … and they DO!

Let’s begin with an overview of each of these 5 step and go over how each step can be applied to make your life better.

1. Make your requirements less dumb

– Your requirements are definitely dumb
– Its particularly dangerous if a smart person gave them to you as you might not question them enough

 Insight: We all want to do great things. Build a business, make money, have lot’s for friends, have a fulfilling romantic life… Get rich off crypto and drive a Lamorgini. Many of us have a LOT of things we think we need to be happy and when listed all together they look overwhelming, overly complicated … and DUMB. Maybe it’s possible to “have it all” but for most of us it seems exhausting. The solution is to ask yourself “What is the least I need to have a fulfilling life?”.

Personally, I’ve reduced my requirements down considerably to three things: 1) Provide security and support for myself and family, 2) Try to make the world slightly better and 3) Be a decent and kind human being.  Knowing I am working on all of those things gives me an immense feeling of satisfaction (Your results may vary).

2. Delete the part or process

– If you’re not adding back then you’re not deleting enough
– Don’t add requirements just in case, don’t hedge your bets

Musk is noted for eliminating the Public Relations Department from his companies Tesla and SpaceX. They were of no use to the overall goals of these companies.

Insight: How much time do you waste everyday? Until you examine where you put your attention it’s hard to guess. A recent study describe how social media negatively effects peoples emotional and yet they continue to compulsively use them. The is the definition of a distructive addiction. Removing a part or process from your life is a testing process. In it’s absense you and determine if it serves any useful purpose. According to Elon Musk “if you’re not adding things back in occasionally then you’re not deleting enough”.

Personally, I used to compulsively use social media. When I removed it from my life I noticed less anger and distractions in its absence. I take a small pleasure in throwing away things I won’t use and don’t need. Keep my daily practices of exercize and meditation because living without either is disruptive and unpleasant.

3. Simplify/Optimise

– Don’t optimise if it shouldn’t exist

Insight: Once you determine a process or feature is needed only THEN do you optimize it.

4. Accelerate cycle times

– But don’t go faster if you haven’t worked on the other 3 things first…
– If you’re digging your grave don’t dig your grave faster

Insight: This is where you know what you are doing works and you do it consistently. Thus if you have a schedule that fills your needs, keep it. If that schedule allows you to do more, continue to applying the 5 step design process. If all of your time is filled with highly efficient processes that fulfill the 5 step process proceed to step 5.

5. Automate

– Don’t reverse these 5 steps

Insight: Having fulfilled the previous four steps “automating” can be thought of as delegating and teaching. If what you are doing is creating a fulfilling life then share it with others.

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