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Apps We Love: Forest

In this Mindfulness Monday post, we take a look at an app called Forest that can help you eliminate distractions and keep your attention where it should be.

Forest is an interesting iPhone app that actually encourages you to use your phone less. The goal of the app is to “help you put down your phone and focus on what’s important in your life.” To accomplish this, Forest uses a simple mechanism that applies gamification to your focus:

  1. Whenever you want to focus, open the Forest app and plant a tree.
  2. During the time that you’ve set, your tree will grow.
  3. However, if you leave the Forest app, your tree will die.

You can choose any time interval you’d like, but the longer your focus session, the bigger your tree will be.

The trees you plant (no matter whether they live or die) will show up in your own personal forest inside the app. Forest integrates with HealthKit so that your focused work sessions can be logged as mindfulness minutes, but the real reward is seeing your beautiful tree planted in your virtual forest as a symbol of your successfully completed focus session. Over time, your forest can develop into something beautiful that reflects your ability to master distractions and stay away from your phone — if you have the discipline to do so.

The catch is that the dead trees from all your failed focus sessions will show up here too. You can remove them, but it requires “seeds” to do so. Seeds are the in-app currency, kind of like virtual coins, and can also be used to unlock other types of tress and bushes inside the app.

You certainly don’t need to collect seeds or spend them within the app to boost your focus as the things you can buy with your seeds are purely cosmetic. However, the developers of Forest have a partnership with a real-life tree-planting organization, Trees for the Future, to plant real trees in relation to the number of seeds that are spent in the app. When you spend seeds to unlock things in Forest, the Forest team donates to their partner organization and creates planting orders for new trees. As of this writing, over 500,000 trees have been planted by Forest.

If you find yourself frequently distracted by your phone, Forest may help you stay focused on your important task — whether that’s working at the office, studying at the library, or simply staying mindful when out for dinner with friends.

Forest is available for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch for $1.99 in the App Store.

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