Last week I wrote about the Pomodoro Method and how I tweak it to make sure it fits my needs. I recently discovered Forest, a great little productivity app which helps me keep this system in place and stay away from my smartphone.How the Forest App Works - infographic

What is Forest?

Essentially, Forest is a focused productivity timer. This means that it measures blocks of time and alerts you when the time is over. Every time you set the timer and press “plant”, the app plants a virtual tree. This tree grows in the following time and shows up in your forest once the timer is over. It is possible to set your timer to any length of time between 10 and 120 minutes. As I use a modified Pomodoro Method and sometimes work for longer or shorter blocks of time than the usual 25 minutes, this is particularly useful.

While the timer is on, you are not allowed to use your phone or leave the app. If you do leave the app, the tree withers and dies, and appears as a dead tree in your forest. This is also very useful for me because I have a big issue with my phone. I don’t like to admit it but it’s a constant distraction and also a source of procrastination. I thought this would be a silly method to keep me off my phone but the visual representation of the dead tree actually really bothers me. I’m not sure why, but I love to see the forest grow!

How your Forest appears in the app

View Your Forest

The forest resets every day. For some reason, I thought I was automatically going to get a weekly or monthly representation of the forest. It’s annoying to see an empty forest with a sad face on it when you forget to use the app one day, or when you really don’t have time to do much. There is a way to see your weekly, monthly and annual stats but it can’t be set as default. However, I’ve come to realise this is a good thing as it pushes me to do something each day. I hate to see the forest empty. If you don’t have much time and set your timer to less than 20 minutes, you can plant a bush!

Unlock Different Kinds of Trees & Plant Real Ones!

Forest also gives you coins for every tree you plant. With coins, you can unlock different kinds of bushes and trees, such as lemon trees, candy trees and many more. They’re fun, cute to look at and definitely help you stay motivated. When you get enough coins, you can even plant real trees and help fight deforestation!

Track Time You Spend on Your Phone!

Recently, Forest has added a time-tracking feature to help you track the time you spend on your phone. It can definitely be useful if you’re looking to cut down on the time you spend on your phone. Apparently, the average user spends around 4 hours a day on their phone. That’s a huge amount of time which could definitely be spent doing something more useful!

What if You Need Your Phone for Work?

In Android, you can create a white list of apps which can be used while you’re on Forest. In iOS this actually isn’t possible because of a limitation of the operating system. You can, however, select the  “work with phone” mode from the settings, which allows you to use your phone while the timer is active. This kind of defies the purpose of the app for me, so I never use it.

Is it Free?

The app is free for Android, although there are in-app purchases in order to unlock all functions. It’s not free for for iOS but has a small cost: €2.29, or $1.99 in the US version

Ultimately, Forest gamifies productivity, and that’s a huge plus. Personally, I love this app and it is now part of my daily routine. I’m really happy I discovered it and I’m surely going to be using it a lot; I never would have thought something so simple could make such a big difference, but it really is a game changer for me! Have you tried it?

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