Living in a time where mindless entertainment is only one touch (or app) away can make it incredibly hard to focus on the simplest tasks and really get your head down for uninterrupted, productive work. If you can relate to the struggle, Forest, an app best described as a good-natured trojan horse inside the world of apps, could be a service to tickle your fancy.
To cut to the chase right from the off, the app sets out to rein in your excessive phone habits by forcing you to keep open the Forest app whilst you get to focus on your real world tasks. The reward for not getting distracted and checking your Facebook or Instagram real quick comes in the shape of trees planted, one at a time and slowly culminating in your personal little forest. Moreover, depending on the length of the task you have committed to belabouring without picking up your iPhone, you can select flora ranging from small bushes to sizeable trees to incrementally add to your pixel garden.
Now, if you have the proverbial green thumb, I probably had you at ‘growing a tree’, however if that is not you, let’s pick Forest’s proposition apart a little more. Because under its green and fertile surface, the features and stats baked into Forest do indeed make for a very capable productivity companion.
Next to the fact that you can give yourself a pat on the shoulder every night for having grown your own forest of respectable size (which resets every day and becomes your visual measure for productivity), Forest not only allows for you to clock your productivity time, but also to schedule breaks every time your focus timer hits completion.
Once break time is over, your iPhone or Apple Watch – which is neatly integrated – will give you a gentle nudge to remind you to get back to work. This is only one example demonstrative of the Notification system being put to great use though. In the same vein, Apple Watch spurs you on to stay disciplined (‘your tree is growing’) when on the clock and your iPhone immediately pushes out a ‘your tree is dying’ Notification to admonish, should you falter and leave the app.
It sure stands to reason that the whole gardening concept is quaint or even gimmicky, yet as soon as you have timed your productivity hours for a few days it actually becomes a punchy (and playful) yardstick to quantify and visualize your productivity day in and day out. Friends of sober numbers and stats will get their money’s worth as well, since Forest also offers a slew of analytics and graphs in tandem with your virtual garden. Most importantly, each completed focus session (read: each grown tree) can be accredited with a tag such as ‘Work’, ‘Study’ or ‘Social’, to refine and further break down your statistics.
Overall, there is plenty more to the app (such as rainforest background audio, an in-app currency, friends lists, iCloud integration) but in all likelihood you are going to know at this point whether or not you want to peel back those layers for yourself.
If you are positive, at $0.99 Forest is unlikely to break your bank, meaning the cognitive dissonance is not going to keep you up at night – should you decide to pounce for it.
Check out or grab Forest on the App Store and let us know your thoughts or questions in the comments!