By Prasanna Tati
Forest is a free app available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Chrome, and Firefox aimed at getting you to put your phone or laptop away and be more productive. In the process, if you stay focused, you grow cute virtual trees on a single plane for each day until you have a forest.
The user interface is very minimalistic as its aim is to reduce distractions and encourage efficiency. Set the timer for any time period from 10 minutes to 2 hours, and the app will plant a seed once you hit start. You will not be able to access any other apps without guilty messages flooding your screen such as “Leave me alone!”, “Stop phubbing!”, and “Get back to work!”. If you cave and exit the app before the timer runs out, the tree that was once growing will die. When you look back at your forest, there will be a dead tree to represent your failed attempt at patiently working through your timer and not letting your lock screen notifications get the best of you.
On the forest screen, there is also a bar graph view of your week’s productivity broken down into your days. For each day, you can view your forest, amount of productivity, how many trees grew, and how many trees died. A new update to the app is allowing users to categorize and add a description to what they during the time (e.g. work, study, exercise, eat, etc.). One of the best features of the app is that is uses a very small amount of battery life (about 15% for 24 hours on the HTC One) even though it is constantly running in the background.
After using it for about week, the app’s effectiveness sounds like it will wear off, right? Well actually, for every minute you stay focused, you earn a number of coins. With these coins, you can buy different types of plants, so that your forest isn’t just filled with the same pine tree over and over. You can buy trees that are big, trees that are small, trees with flowers, trees with extra leaves for longer sessions, and even mini shrubs for shorter sessions.
Forest is mainly popular with college students who have a hard time staying away from their smartphones and laptops to do work, because we can always scroll further down through Facebook, bother a friend through text, watch puppies vs. stairs on repeat for the rest of our lives, and generally lock and unlock our phones for no apparent reason. Well now this app will force you to patiently await until your virtual shrub or tree grows before you can access any other time-passing activities.
So this semester, invest in Forest for both your smartphone and laptop, set a timer, get to work, grow your own lush, virtual forest, and ace all of your classes!