Struggling to focus? Forest could help

Perry Timms’ favourite new app handicaps your phone – and frees your mind

Are you a smartphone addict? The average user checks their phone 63 times a day; 86% of us will check a phone whilst with family and friends. Only 30% of us claim to have successfully made changes to control our usage. So how about an app that helps boost your productivity by improving your focus, penalizing excessive checking, and creating a sense of achievement?

Forest is that app. It adopts the Pomodoro Technique, using a timer to break work into regular intervals, which helps users commit to focusing on other tasks and stay away from all the distractions offered by a phone.

The key to this approach is that it helps reinforce sustained periods of focus while also creating regular breaks, which help ensure that you can complete your work efficiently.

The twist is that Forest creates a virtual tree that grows as time passes: if you touch the phone before the task session is complete, the tree dies. Sustained concentration is rewarded by seeing your very own forest grow.

What’s more, you can turn that into real-world growth: the Forest team partners with a tree-planting organization, Trees for the Future, to plant real trees when users spend the virtual coins they have earned in the app.

Productivity enhancement, a cure for smartphone addiction and a contribution to planting real trees? Forest is a ‘triple bottom line’ app if ever there was one.

— Perry Timms is an independent HR/OD practitioner and CIPD adviser on social media and engagement