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How We Use HeroMode: Reading

· 6 min read
using the heromode productivity app to manage and track reading goals

Motivation for reading was one of our earliest HeroMode use cases. Here are some tips that have worked for us that we hope will also work for you to reach your reading goals:

  • Break down a book into chapters or even pages. Split it into multiple Quests.
  • "Chain up" the quests by using the "Lock Quest" functionality. When you finish a chapter, the next quest will be automatically unlocked!
  • Create Adventures based on how challenging you anticipate the reading goal to be. For a particularly thick and heavy book, you can create an adventure just for this book. Alternatively, you can create an adventure for multiple books - say, based on a topic, theme, or a yearly goal.

Reading is a lot like eating. There are snacks that I crave and will over-consume enthusiastically. And there are also nutritious foods, like carrots, that I just don't like. And it takes a lot of nudges, or, ahem, carrots, to get me to eat them.

And similarly, while I'll happily stay up all night to devour a nice whodunnit mystery, there are books I know are good and nutrious for me that are still sitting on the shelf.

Case in point: last year, a friend recommended me "Designing Data-Intensive Applications" (affectionally known as the DDIA book). Immediately I ordered the book from Amazon, and soon a physical copy arrived, only to see itself begin a career in desk decoration for the rest of the year.

I knew this book would be good for me. It covers many relevant topics that will help me do my job better. But it's also 600+ pages. And being a technical book, it'll be 600+ pages of System 2 reading -- slow, laborious, a conscious digestion and absorption of knowledge and information.

Big Goal; Small Steps

As we began developing HeroMode earlier this year, I thought I'd try to use it to get me to read the DDIA book. So I created an adventure, and started populating it with quests.

This book has 12 chapters, so originally I thought I'd create one quest for each chapter. But even the first chapter took me quite a while to read and digest. I found that for one sitting, say, 30 minutes, I could absorb 10-15 pages. So I ended up breaking down the chapters into halves, and each quest represented a smaller bite of the book.

an adventure in heromode app with a reading goal to complete a technical bookreading goal adventure contains many quests, each is reading one chapter

Above: The adventure of reading the DDIA book contained many quests, each quest is about 15 pages.

Chain up Quests With Locking

After breaking down the DDIA book into multiple quests, I would end up having a lot of open quests, which would clutter my Quests list view. Also, the quest to read Chapter 2 is only relevant after I have finished Chapter 1.

The Quest Locking functionality addresses this scenario. For each unread chapter, we can lock it until the previous chapter is completed.

the quest locking functionality in heromode is used to manage reading goals and tasks

Above: Locking the second part of Chapter 12 until I finish reading the first part of Chapter 12.

Now, in the Quests list view, only one DDIA quest is displayed at a time. And when I mark one quest as completed, the next quest with the next chapter automatically shows up in my list!

in heromode quests list, user can complete quests and get pointscompleting one reading quest automatically unlocks the quest for the next chapter in heromode

Above: Completing the "Chapter 11 up to page 459" quest unlocks the next quest of "Chapter 11 up to page 481".

So, with HeroMode, I was able to finish reading the DDIA book one quest at a time over the span of two months. It felt very good when I was able to mark the DDIA reading adventure as completed - actually, I think this was the first HeroMode adventure I completed! The DDIA book is very comprehensive, and thoroughly reviews modern data processing principles and designs. Right away the ideas I learned from this book have been beneficial in building the HeroMode backend!

Reading Adventures Come in All Shapes and Sizes

So far I have been using DDIA as an example of how to organize a reading goal in HeroMode. Beacuse DDIA is a pretty daunting book, I created an adventure just for it.

However, there are many different ways to organize your reading goals. In fact, I see myself doing different things depending on the situation. For example, I created another adventure for just one book again (the first book sold on Amazon). But for a few months I went through a phase of reading about Bayesian statistics, and had an adventure that included three different books on this topic ("Bayes Area Reading Club"). At the same time, I also have an ongoing yearly reading goal based on the popular reading challenge ("50 books in 2022"). If a particular book is not overwhelming enough to warrant its own adventure, then I'd organize it as one quest or a few quests within this adventure. Such was the case for the two great books I came across this year, Empire of Pain and Invisible Child. Both were engaging and absorbing, and I didn't need the extra "nudge" from HeroMode to motivate me to finish reading them.

heromode can be used to manage reading goals in a way that adapts to your lifestyle and difficulty of the books

Design Adventures and Quests That Suit You

While I do not like carrots and would need some nudges to eat them, for some people, carrots are delicious treats. Similarly, while I needed the extra motivation and organization from HeroMode to finish reading the DDIA book, for others, it might be something they would binge read.

You can use HeroMode to organize your reading goals in a way that works best for you. It could be one-book-per-adventure, or one-topic-per-adventure, or one-adventure-per-yearly-reading-chanllenge, or any other flavor. As long as it gives you the nudge you need to reach your reading goals, then that's the right way for you!