- Elon Musk said 2018 was such a stressful year at Tesla that it “felt like aging five years in one.”
- Musk has also said he works for 120 hours a week, which is three times the average work week in the US private sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Overwork is an incredibly dangerous habit, research suggests.
Elon Musk had a stressful year running Tesla, to put it lightly. “2018 felt like aging five years in one,” he said at the unveiling of Tesla’s newest car, the Model Y.
This isn’t the first time Musk has alluded to burning out at work. In August 2018, Musk told The New York Times that he had taken to working 120 hours a week.
That’s well over three times the national average private sector work week of 34.4 hours, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“There were times when I didn’t leave the factory for three or four days – days when I didn’t go outside,” the Tesla and SpaceX CEO told The Times. “This has really come at the expense of seeing my kids. And seeing friends.”
Silicon Valley often comes under fire for reportedly glorifying overwork, but judging from his New York Times interview, Musk has come to realize the toll it’s taken on his life. He revealed that he’d spent his most recent birthday at work, and that he hasn’t taken a substantial vacation since 2001. On top of that, he has trouble sleeping: “It is often a choice of no sleep or Ambien,” he told The Times.
As the CEO of two major companies, Musk is known to keep an intense daily routine. Inc. previously reported that the CEO ignores most phone calls, abstains from getting stuck dealing with emails, and breaks his entire day into a series of five-minute slots. But apparently, he’s still there for 120 hours a week.
It sounds a lot like he’s overworked.
There are serious dangers that come with overwork: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked long working hours with everything from cardiovascular disease to suicide to cancer.
The tendency to work too much isn’t limited to Americans. Death by overwork is a major problem in Japan, where it’s known as karoshi. In 2017, a 31-year-old Japanese woman died of congestive heart failure after pulling 150 hours of overtime work, Time reported. The epidemic has even prompted the Japanese government to take steps to protect its citizens from overwork.
Working too much isn’t just an inconvenience to your family or a guilt-trip to your colleagues – it’s dangerous to your health.