263 - Ali Abouelatta
Ali Abouelatta is an Associate Product Manager at Duolingo and the writer of First 1000, the popular newsletter that gives deep dives into how founders got their first 1000 customers.
Originally started in 2020 as an outlet to help others in a Slack community, the newsletter has grown to over 63,000 subscribers and featured deep dives on companies like Nike, Stripe, and Roam Research.
Twitter → twitter.com/abouelatta_ali
Inside Ali's Workspace
- Opal C1 Camera
- Jarvis Whiteboard Standing Desk from Fully
- Capisco Chair by HÅG (The Joe Rogan Chair)
- Samsung M8 32 inch screen
- Lilithye Footrest for Desk
- Magic Mouse
- Magic Keyboard
- Macbook M1 Pro Max
- iPad Mini
How do you spark creativity?
When it comes to sparking creativity, I've found that two things have been particularly effective for me: writing everything down and going down random rabbit holes.
I've developed an extensive system for documenting my interactions, thoughts, work..etc. For instance, I have a daily work log where I wrote down 1-2 sentences of what I worked on, a swipe file with over 900 product features for all the apps I tried (I download and use every app in the top 500 on the app store every year), and a document for tracking my thinking and rationale behind new purchases.
This habit initially came about as a way for me to handle my Aphantasia, but I've since realized that it's an excellent mental exercise for uncovering new patterns and perspectives. These patterns emerge in the most unexpected places.
In moments when I'm feeling creatively blocked, I tend to take a short walk around my apartment. This simple act of pacing allows me to clear my mind and return to my work with a fresh perspective. Overall, I've found that staying curious and being diligent in my documentation practices are key factors in fueling my creativity.
How do you manage work-life balance?
After learning about Parkinson's law, my perspective on achieving a balance between work and personal life completely shifted. Parkinson's law is a phenomenon that tends to complicate the work we have to do to fill up all the time we allocate to it.
So now, I am more thoughtful about managing my time. I found the best strategy in allocating pre-set time blocks for specific tasks.
For instance, during workdays, I dedicate the first hour from 7-8am to reading, while in the evening, I allocate an hour from 7-8pm for research. Fridays are flexible, allowing me to explore topics that interest me and go down the rabbit hole. Saturdays, on the other hand, are reserved for spending time with my girlfriend. Finally, Sundays are dedicated to writing the First 1000 newsletter. This structure helps me stay organized and ensures that I make time for the things that matter most in my life.Putting in as much work into the pre-set time commitment has been game-changing! Having constraints provided me with more free time and allowed me to get more done!