Behind the Slides: '26 Time Management Hacks'

May 17, 2013

We all wish we had more time on our hands, so it's no wonder 26 Time Management Hacks I Wish I'd Known at 20 went completely viral. The presentation has fetched nearly 1 million views since being uploaded March 28, and is one of the top 10 most-viewed SlideShares in the past year.

Who was the creator behind this huge hit? Meet Etienne Garbugli, a product design and marketing consultant based in Montreal, who’s founded two startups. Garbugli had published a handful of SlideShares – mostly on topics surrounding his work – before uploading 26 Time Management Hacks. But this presentation was a whole new ball game (read about the lessons Garbugli learned from the experience on his blog). We talked to him about the idea behind it, how he put it together and how it’s all played out.

How did you come up with the idea for this presentation?

For the last six years I had been writing down everything that I learned. It was a self experiment. All the experiences I’d come across, I’d add it to the list. I wanted to be able to extract insight from this list based on different topics. Time management was one of them.

Etienne Garbugli

How did you go about constructing the presentation?

The process took about eight hours – it might have been the most productive eight hours of my life! I had my list of about 600 things, and extracted the time management lessons. I created a narrative. I wanted to frame it as a story. I used different images but generally wanted to keep things simple.

What’s the response you got?

It was very chaotic! I published it on the Thursday before Easter. The next morning it had 6,000 views. Then it went up on the homepage, which quickly put it up to 65,000 views. It went completely viral on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. At one point it was getting 8,000 views an hour!

People emailed saying they printed it out and put it on the wall -- doctors from Africa to IT professionals in India and women in Saudi Arabia. People wanted to translate it to other languages. I got a proposal to write a book. I was approached for a job. It turned on leads for other presentations of mine, and I got contract leads from everywhere from the U.S. to India. I was totally surprised with the results. I wasn’t expecting it. But I think it’s because it’s universal -- time management is an issue people have in all sorts of facets of life.slide-7-638 (3)

What’s the #1 time management tip you now tell people?

The most important time management lesson I have learned this past year would definitely be tip #18: Only ever work on the thing that will have the biggest impact.

For me, focus is everything. Applying this tip to both my personal and professional lives has made me incredibly more productive. Now, defining the thing that will have the biggest impact can be a challenge, but I've been using the late Stephen Covey's important vs. urgent matrix to help guide my decisions. I try to focus on "important" tasks, working equally on short and long term activities, while balancing strategic vision and everyday needs.