Originally this was going to be a review of new productivity app Focused, but after dropping $1.99 on it, we found that it didn't work as advertised, contained a plethora of spelling and grammatical errors, and generally felt like it wasn't ready to go out into the world. In other words, not worth much more than the two sentences I've already devoted to it.
We decided to stay in the world of productivity, though, and review an app called Forest. Unlike Focused, the $1.99 was well spent here.
Forest improves focus and productivity by making it into a game. The idea is pretty simple: each work task/time period is a seed, which gradually grows into a tree (or bush, depending on how much time you've devoted), which eventually becomes a forest.
You can select the amount of time you want to spend on something; 60 minutes will grow a tree, while shorter times, like 10 minutes, will grow mere shrubbery. If you try to exit the app in the middle of your chosen time period, your plant will die. Even opening your phone to look at the app reveals such encouraging messages as "put down your phone," "stay focused," "stop phubbing," and "go back to work." Once completed, you can tag the task with a label of your choosing, i.e. work, study, exercise and so on.
There's also a PC version, though in this case there seems to be nothing stopping you from clicking around--i.e. screwing around--on your browser; it's just simply a clock that runs for however long you set it. It does, though, contain those same encouraging messages; personal favorite: "don't be distracted!" Man, if only it were that simple.
Another productivity app that I use is Freedom, which allows you to block certain websites or apps--or the internet altogether--for a self-selected period of time. I'd say Freedom is ultimately more effective at getting you to stop messing around on your digital devices, but it's also a lot more expensive than Forest at $6.99 per month or $29 for a year.
Forest is a fun way to get going on a task and was, for me at least, successful in its stated mission; it got me to write this article, after all. I can't wait for my ragtag garden to become a full-blown old-growth forest.
Forest is available for both iOS and Android.
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