Growing in focus

Even with all the right calendars, to do lists, and workflows, it is hard to truly be productive if you can’t stay focused on the task at hand. There are lots of excellent apps based around boosting your focus and blocking the constant stream of texts, emails, and notifications. Forest is one fo the best.

Forest is a delightful twist on the Pomodoro timer approach to focus and productivity. Whenever you set a time in Forest, you “plant a seed.” As the timer runs down the seed slowly grows into a tree. Once the timer runs out, the tree is fully grown and gets added to your forest. You also earn some coins that can be spent on in-app purchases.

If for whatever reason you leave the Forest app while the seed is growing, you will get a notification warning you to get back to the app and focusing. If you do not, your tree dies and you lose out on potential coins.

With a premium version, this can be customized to whitelist certain apps. But the basic version serves its purpose well. The app uses its gamification elements to draw you in and keep you focused and on task.

One of the best aspects of the app is that it is visually beautiful and very well designed overall. From the layout of the app itself to the artwork of the individual trees and forests that you grow, there’s a beautiful attention to detail. As you plant and grow more and more trees, these turn into a “forest.” This allows you to visualize in a unique way how much time you’ve saved and focused using the app on varying timescales from the last day to the last year.

As a bonus feature, Forest also makes a difference in the real world. You can spend the coins you earn for planting your forest in the app to help plant trees in the real world.

It isn’t the sort of app that will transform how you manage your day or give you revolutionary new workflows. Nor is it trying to be that. Forest is a great example of the power that gamification elements and beautiful design can have in transforming a simple feature into something much more impactful.

Forest is available on Google Play and the App Store.

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