May 1, 2023

Mayday on May Day: What's in a name?

Jeremy Bell
Jeremy Bell
Founder & CEO

In many parts of the world, May 1st is known as May Day. And this year, I find myself reflecting on the origins of our business, the product we're building, and the significance behind our name, Mayday. The name "Mayday" wasn't chosen merely to evoke the first day of May; it holds a deeper meaning and speaks to the core mission of our product.

Dating back to the late 19th century, May Day bears historical importance in the labour movement, being deeply connected to the establishment of the 8-hour workday. Workers in the United States and other industrialized countries at the time were subjected to exhausting, prolonged workdays. The Haymarket Affair of 1886, which involved a series of strikes and protests advocating for an 8-hour workday as the standard for all workers, marked a turning point. May 1st was ultimately designated as International Workers' Day, commemorating the accomplishments of the labour movement and promoting workers' rights, including fair working hours and improved working conditions.

The name "Mayday" is also rooted in the internationally recognized distress signal for help. Established as a universal call for assistance in the wake of WWI, "Mayday" is derived from the French phrase "m'aider," which translates to "help me.” This concept of providing help is central to our ethos, and our AI-assisted calendar embodies that spirit—offering support for managing time and schedules across multiple time horizons. The name playfully incorporates elements of time, with "May" signifying months, "Day" indicating days, and our URL,, representing hours (as in AM/PM).

With its historical significance and origins as a distress signal, “Mayday” was clearly a fitting name that encapsulated the essence of what we're building, the value we strive to deliver, and acknowledges the ongoing pursuit of a healthier balance between work and life.

Long before the name Mayday was even a consideration, the idea behind it was formed during my tenure at a health and fitness company called Precision Nutrition (PN). PN offered a year-long coaching program, and we noticed that when participants failed to complete it, it wasn't for lack of motivation or dedication; it was often because life simply got in the way. Unexpected events, such as travel, illness, or pressing work commitments, threw their schedules off course, and the technology that supported the program wasn't designed to adapt to these changes.

Years later, I found myself working at Facebook in Menlo Park. As I observed my team, I recognized a familiar pattern: we were all drowning in meetings, struggling to carve out time for actual work, and often needing to put in extra hours after work to get things done. Burnout wasn’t uncommon, and it seemed like everyone was juggling an impossible load, desperately trying to make time for what truly mattered each week.

That's when it became clear that there had to be a better way, and I was certain that a smarter calendar was the way to solve this problem. And so, Mayday was born.

Mayday, as both a product and a mission, has always been about helping people regain control of their time, allowing them to focus on their priorities and strike a healthier work-life balance. And while there are plenty of calendar apps on the market, Mayday differentiates itself by leveraging AI to intelligently assist users in organizing their schedules.

It is designed to provide support across various time horizons. For example, by evaluating several data points across everyone's schedules, our "Ideal Scheduling Engine" can determine the most suitable time to schedule events or meetings. Beyond merely looking for empty slots in calendars, Mayday weighs the urgency and importance of what you're trying to schedule against what's already planned, creating a more balanced and efficient calendar.

Mayday's Scheduling Links consider everyone's ideal time and gently nudge guests to pick a time that works best for all parties involved, rather than blindly offering up every available time slot, which could lead to interrupted focus time and unnecessary context-switching.

Calendar Shield automates time-blocking to protect your schedule from becoming overrun with meetings. It also schedules buffer time before important meetings and syncs events between calendars, ensuring that personal appointments are protected in your work calendar.

Soon, we'll be launching auto-scheduled Tasks in Mayday, a feature that automatically blocks time in your calendar for your to-do's. When your priorities shift, Mayday will intelligently reschedule tasks, eliminating the need for manual adjustments to your blocked time.

As May Day reminds us of our company’s namesake and the mission that fuels our endeavours, we're committed to continually refining and improving Mayday to make it an indispensable tool for time management and prioritizing. In the spirit of May Day and championing a healthier balance between work and life, we invite you to join our journey by downloading the public beta. Your feedback will be invaluable in helping us shape the future of Mayday and ensure that it becomes the ultimate time management solution for everyone. Together, let's take control of our schedules and reclaim our time for what truly matters.