"5 am - 8 am is my deep work time"
Maya is building no-code products in the early morning hours and working as a data scientist by day. (9-5 employee + 5-9 builder as she describes it herself.)
What does a productive day in your life look like, and how often do you have days like that? Or what is a regular day like?
A regular day starts at 5 am. 5 am - 8 am is my deep work time, where I focus on tasks related to side projects, such as InterviewJam, and connect with other makers over video calls. I work full-time as a data scientist, and my workday starts at 8:30 (usually I am done by 5 pm). Then I make some time to work out (boxing/kickboxing, running, or weighted jump rope exercises), which is extremely important in my life.
From 7-9 pm, I wrap up the day by finishing up any pending tasks for any side projects I am working on, spend time with family and write gratitude and my intention for the next day.
How do you come up with new project ideas?
I usually get many ideas throughout the day, which I note everything down on Apple Notes. I note down any frustration points that I experience throughout the day, especially if they occur when I am using a product that can be improved.
For InterviewJam, I came up with the idea as I was looking for a job myself and found it very hard to prepare efficiently for multiple interviews, and wanted to create a better tool for organizing and preparing for interviews.
What is your tech stack and why?
I am a no-code builder. I built InterviewJam (including the Chrome extension) entirely on bubble. I have always been passionate about building and making an impact, but as a data scientist, my coding skills were very specific to machine learning and data analysis. So I turned to no code and settled on using bubble to build InterviewJam.
(Maya uses the Charles Chrome Extension Plugin for her Chrome extension.)
How many failed projects do you have, and how have they set you up for success? Or what is a failure you are grateful for?
InterviewJam is the first project that I built out, and I am very grateful that it achieved the level of success that it did (#5 on product hunt). However, before that I had built a non-profit to help underprivileged children in India, which I failed to scale. While I was disappointed, that whole experience has helped me understand the impact I can have by building and scaling products that could impact so many people in a positive way.
What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?
The best investment I have made (and currently making) is taking the time to create content and build in public. I am just getting started on my journey, but I have already seen the power of having an interested audience ready to give feedback and support you while you build products.
Another investment I am making and have made is to build a community around myself of other builders and makers. I love meeting new people (despite being an introvert), and love connecting with other like-minded individuals, so despite the time investment, building a community for the long run has been one thing that has been a game changer.
What advice would you give to a smart, driven builder yet to experience any “success”? What advice should they ignore?
Don’t make the mistake I did. Ship fast and often, and get as much feedback as possible. I think I overengineered InterviewJam a bit, and I wish I had put it out there sooner and gotten feedback and iterated from there. Another thing I would recommend is to think about marketing channels and think about distribution of the product a lot more.
What is your process for starting a new project? How do you decide on an idea to pursue?
I usually have a list of ideas that I have written down based on problems I have faced, or seen others facing. I start by assessing the ideas on a number of factors such as market need & demand, target user feedback, my passion for the problem, technical feasibility, etc.
In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
In the last 5 years, I have really gotten into the mindset shift from “I want to be X” to “I am X”. I think its totally natural to want to be someone, but you don’t know where to start, so you just kind of put it off.
I think getting into the habit of taking small actions every day to get closer to my goals has helped a lot. It can start with any problem, but just start building - you will figure it out and learn from there. I think getting started, building and learning as I go has helped me the most.
In this section, I (Mat) share a few comments and links I found especially interesting about today's guest.
I love how Maya manages to get 3 hours (!) of deep work done before starting her regular work day (which is also why I have decided to highlight this in the title). I'm in much the same position (full-time job) but I only get ~ 1 - 1,5 hours of work done on my side projects each morning. After reading about Maya's routine I will try to expand this time.
It is quite impressive what Maya has done with "just" no-code tools. Creating InterviewJam from scratch would have required quite a bit of programming.