Forest: Stay Focused, a Unique Productivity App
Parents today know all too well how difficult it can be to come between a teen and their smartphone. But there are times when you have to put it down and start studying for that final! There are dozens of productivity apps out there to encourage this, but Forest: Stay Focused has one of the more original approaches our editorial team has seen.
With this app, you set a timer for how long you want to be productive (30 minutes, at least) and it plants a little virtual sapling for you. As long as you ignore your phone, this cute little plant will grow into a full sized tree. But, if you unlock your phone and leave the app, the tree dies. This approach may be a bit manipulative, but it’s for a good cause. Using the app, you kind of grow attached to this tree and you don’t want to kill it. And all the trees you plant show up in a little virtual forest, whether you successfully raised them or not, so there’s also that incentive to ignore your phone for the entire period of time you set.
The app also has a few other features to encourage you to be more productive. After growing a tree, you can add a note about what you were doing while you were growing your tree and categorize it under Work, Study, Social, Rest, Entertainment, Sport, or Other. This helps you keep track of what you’ve been using the app for. And when you’re growing a tree, the app will reward you with “seeds” which you can later exchange for different kinds of trees. This is just more encouragement to ignore your phone for the set amount of time so that you can earn seeds and upgrade your trees. So far, you can’t buy seeds, you have to earn them, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the makers of this app offered that option in the future.
The app isn’t intended for anyone under the age of 13. Once registered, it encourages all users to connect to Facebook. The idea behind connecting the app to your Facebook account is that you and your friends will be able to see each other’s forests and so there is added social pressure to keep your forest lush and green. It makes sense for older kids and adults, but there’s no need to push a 12-year old to something they’re not yet old enough to use.
Finally, you can get the app for a song! By which we mean, it costs $0.99 in the Apple store. It’s also available for free in the Google Play store. I only wish there were a version of this app for the browsers on my laptop!