This Timer App Is the Answer to Your Focus Woes Forest for iOS and Android turns even the most tedious, procrastination-inducing tasks into tree-planting fun.

By Dasblog

It’s easy to get distracted these days. Between remote work and phones that have all of your favorite entertainment at your fingertips, focus can be hard to come by. The Forest app, however, turns your favorite little distraction device into a helpful way to stay focused.

The Forest app on phone screens

The longer you focus, the bigger and prettier tree you get.

Screenshot by Mary-Elisabeth Combs/CNET

Forest is a “gamified timer,” meaning you’re rewarded for using the timer. Start the timer by planting a digital tree and then, while the timer runs, the tree grows. 

What makes this so powerful for focus is that while the tree is growing, your phone is essentially locked. You can still access all of your apps, but doing so will be at the expense of your tree. That’s right, if you play on your phone while the timer is running, your tree will die. Each tree that you grow, or don’t, is saved into a forest where you can see all of the time you’ve spent focusing quantified as a cute digital forest. 

The forest isn’t the only reward, though. The more trees you successfully grow, the more coins you earn. These coins purchase more types of trees to grow in your timer, allowing you to plant all sorts of flowers, shrubs and trees. How much your tree grows depends on how long you focus for, and while the specific times depend on the tree you’re growing, the general idea with the growth stages is to incentivize you to focus longer and grow bigger, prettier trees. 

The coins, more importantly, can be used to plant real trees. Get 2,500 in-game coins, plant one real-life tree. Currently the limit for real trees is five per user, but it is still really neat that you can make an impact while you’re focusing.

The screen in the app where you can plant a real tree

In-app coins can turn into real-life trees..

Screenshot by Mary-Elisabeth Combs/CNET

I have a great deal of experience with Forest, and it has truly made a huge difference in my life. Forest was recommended to me by a mental health professional during a semester of online classes. I have ADHD and struggle with focus even when I am in a perfect study or work environment, so being outside of the classroom and around so many distractions while I was attempting to work proved pretty challenging. 

Forest works so well for me because of how strict it is. I know that if I try to play on my phone while I have a timer running, I will kill my tree and frankly, that really dissuaded me from poking around on Instagram or TikTok. 

Now, one thing that is frustrating about the app is it doesn’t make great exceptions for emergencies. You can completely disable the tree-killing aspect of the timer, but that takes away from the helpful incentive of not killing trees. There would be times where I needed to respond to a text message or email with some urgency, and would have to kill my tree and restart my timer to do so. 

Granted, this is a tiny frustration for an app that has been so helpful in my life. Getting to look back at my fully grown forest of trees instills a sense of pride and it’s helpful to see my hard work quantified. I even use Forest outside of an academic setting: Whenever I need to ditch my phone and focus on something, I grow a tree and get to work. 

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