Recently, I’ve been feeling more distracted by my phone and social media noise. This led to me finally giving in and trying Forest app as one tool to help and I have to say I’ve been impressed. It’s really helped me adapt more “Deep Work” principles that I had gotten worse at. So here’s a quick review of Forest app and why you should consider giving it a go.
What is Forest?
Forest app is a “productivity” smartphone app with a difference. It’s designed to make you NOT use your phone. If you get too many notifications or have an addictive game/social network you often log in and check, this can stop you from getting into a state of “flow” and doing real productive and high quality work.
Forest encourages you not to use your phone via a simple gamification idea. You “plant a tree” for a certain amount of time that you choose. Let’s say 25 minutes. If you don’t leave the forest app, you get your tree. If you do… your tree dies. You can change the length of time and over time you can get more impressive trees to decorate your forest with.
Forest is targeted towards use at work but you could use it for your own Bible study time (so you don’t get distracted by your phone then).
It’s incredible how powerful a stupid little motivator like “I want my tree” is. This visual representation of your commitment really works. As does the threat of “killing your tree” and ruining your forest. Yes, you really do start to care about your virtual trees.
If you do accidentally leave the app, you get a warning to come back or your tree will die (Not my tree!). This is a great touch as it gives you just the right amount of grace, not enough time to do anything else but if you do something without thinking, instinctively, you get a reminder to your commitment and intention. It basically helps train you to follow your intentions, not your dumb habits.
There are other touches in the app which are really well done such as tracking your forest time over days, weeks and longer periods of time. Comparisons with friends and group forests, so a family can commit to not using their phones over dinner. You can also tag your trees to show what you did on each day as a form of logging your work. That’s right, forest helps you log your work.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the app can play ambient sounds such as rain in a forest, a cafe, and so on, in addition to the design and interface being well done.
It’s hard to think of anything specific that is bad about this app. They seem to have hit all the important features and have a list of exceptions. I suspect the common complaints will be the price, as some people think every app should be free (they’re wrong).
Another might be that they think the app is pointless as they view their phone as useful and they state they have self-control. If that’s you, then you’re perfectly welcome to not get the app, but I would suggest that you just set a timer for 30 mins or an hour and see if you don’t use or want to use your phone in that time. You may discover it is more enticing than you thought and while self-control is more important than having the right app, an app can help.
I’ve really enjoyed using forest recently and would recommend you give it a go.
Value for Money: 5
Forest supports iOS and Android.
You can find Forest here.