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Hello World, this is HeroMode!

· 5 min read
going on an adventure with heromode

HeroMode v1 is now available in the Apple App Store!

If you do give it a try, we hope it'll be useful and joyful for you. If not, we hope you'd give us your thoughts and feedback -- you can email us at You can report any issues at

Is it possible to make getting stuff done as fun as playing games?

We ask, as we relax on the couch, swiping mindlessly to complete yet another level on yet another match-three jewel game.

We've also gotten really good (an opinion; not a fact) at making curved throws to complete those Daily Research Tasks in Pokémon Go. Even the massively challenging "five curved great throws in a row" tasks. We did them, and it was quite a thrill each time.

Those hours accumulated. Now we are on level five-thousand-something, and running out of room to digitally accomodate all the pokémons we've caught.

And you know what else have accumulated? There are several books I have bought. Some not opened. Some have gotten the first few chapters flipped through and even highlighted. I've even recommended a few to friends (such hypocrisy!). One of them I've carried with me on multiple trips, ambitiously anticipating to return a better read person. That has not happened.

More immediately, the dishes piled. There are emails and messages requiring response. Various forms of writing demand progress. And the dog really, really, really wants to go outside.

Is it possible to make getting stuff done as fun as playing games? We surely hope so. And HeroMode is our attempt to give it a try. We need a lot of ideas and framework on how to think about productivity, task, goal, and motivation. So we are baking in various learnings from behaviorial economics, decision science, and habit / expert formation.

"Focus on the journey, not the destination"

We've all heard of it, and there's perhaps some practical truth. A lot of our common goals are not a finish line we can cross, but rather a state of being.

HeroMode reframes projects, goals, and forming new habits as "Adventures". From a project management perspective, that's just using a different word to describe the project-to-task heirachy. But wording matters. By thinking about our goals as "Adventures", we are more aware of the continuous and cumulative nature of progress. Because it is an Adventure, we are more patient, and more receptive to the experience and learning along the way.

Quests: bite-sized action items

"I'm going to work very, very hard, and when I get that promotion, I'm going to have a huge celebration." How many of us have ever thought like this? Turns out, it's more effective the other way around. Lay out the action items doable within a short timeframe, and have a little celebration when you complete each.

In HeroMode, you design Quests that make progress along your Adventure. A quest shouldn't take too long to complete -- break it down to smaller pieces if that's not the case. And quests have points so you can celebrate every micro-win!

Some adventures are solo. Some are better with buddies.

We all know peer pressure can be applied to our adventage. Maybe it's a step challenge. Maybe it's a reading club. And together, we can do more.

In HeroMode, you can add Buddies to adventures. Buddies can create and embark on the quests with you, and you can see each other's progress and points. Let it be camaraderie, competition, or collaboration, go further with buddies on your adventures.

HeroMode v1 Release: a baby step that took many baby steps

We are nowhere near making getting stuff done as fun as games. This v1 release is just a baby step. And we have a lot of new features planned for HeroMode. However, we hope the current HeroMode v1 is already useful and joyful for you. This certainly has been the case for us. In a overly meta fashion, HeroMode, the app, kept us going with building HeroMode, the product, over the last several months. Quest after quest, HeroMode got us over countless technical challenges, feature experiments, and UI improvements. Actually, it's not countless -- because of HeroMode, we know it's 244 quests and 303.3 points as of today! We hope HeroMode will also enable you to accomplish what you'd like to accomplish, and bring you some joy along the way.

screenshot of the heromode productivity app for a software development project management use case

Above: A screenshot of our HeroMode development adventure. And indeed, making HeroMode has been quite an adventure.