BY CELINE NGUYEN
The concept of productivity is one that has been tried and tested in countless applications. From Get Sh*t Done, an app that uses aggressive language and straightforward wording to motivates its users, to Yelling Mom, a comedic “nagging” application designed to keep users on track, there is no shortage of programs designed to cut down procrastination.
Forest, however, is a productivity app that is unique in its simplicity. Users simply start the app, select an amount of time they’d like to stay focused for, plant a “tree” and watch it grow in the time they are forced to spend off their phone. By making the user responsible for a growing organism, Forest instills a sense of liability in the user.
The application rewards users for each time segment they complete by planting a tree in users’ digital forest. Users can also earn coins by completing each time segment. These coins can be used to purchase different types of trees to plant in their digital forest. For 2500 coins, users can even plant real trees in Indian and Zambia. With over two thousand users, Forest embodies the idea of helping oneself while helping others.
The program also incorporates a “whitelist” function, which allows users to add up to three applications that will not kill the tree if opened. The first 30 minutes of my experience were exceptionally hard since I am accustomed to fiddling with my phone regularly. It took me a considerable amount of willpower to not exit the app and check Facebook or Instagram, but Forest’s straightforwardness convinced me to continue.
By using a living symbol, a tree, Forest seeks to inspire a positive emotional response in users. I especially liked the animation of the small seedling growing into a sturdy tree because it encouraged me to continue my work. The dashboard, which displayed statistics from past sessions, and the visual appeal of a filled forest were also especially satisfying.
Forest is by far the easiest and most streamlined productivity app on the market. With its whitelisting features and user-friendly display, it appeals to students and busy workers alike. Forest is available on multiple platforms, and costs $0.99 on both Android and iOS. A simpler Google Chrome widget, which can be synced to the mobile app, is available for free, making clutter-free work time a possibility on any device.