Have you seen the film ‘Up’? It’s a totally heart-warming and inspiring film not to mention utterly ridiculous. It’s brilliant. I definitely associate myself with the character Dug who is a dog with the sweetest nature but who gets distracted very easily. That is certainly me (minus the dog part, thank you very much). I mean well but I definitely love a bit of procrastination every now and again.
You know how it is, you remember you want to Google something or check an app and the next thing you know you’ve fallen down the Instagram rabbit hole, ordered a whole new wardrobe, done your weekly food shop and completely forgotten what it was you unlocked your device for. That is me. Every. Single. Day. Now if I didn’t have 459388759 things to do in one given day then I would say that a bit of procrastination is fine, healthy even. But when you are a busy as I am, you cannot afford to fall into that trap of ‘Googling’ something. So when the blogging goddess that is Cara shared a blog post on procrastination I knew had to pay even more attention than usual. She mentioned a fantastic new app she was trialling and it immediately caught my eye. An app that aims to help you to focus and in turn do something really positive not only in your own life, but for others too.
The app is called Forest and the concept is simple enough. Input the time that you would like to stay focussed and on task for, it can be for as little as ten minutes or for as long as two hours. Once you have set the time it will then ‘plant’ a virtual tree which will start to grow in relation to the time that has passed. If you use your phone it will recognise that you are off task and the tree that has started to grow will die. If this isn’t enough to stop you from checking that notification that has just come through then what will! The app will send you an alert when your tree has grown and from there you can decide to carry on with your task or not. There is even a setting that allows you to bank this extra time spent on task to get extra bonus points and time. This time is logged on the app and a virtual forest begins to grow. The more time that you log, the more trees that grow and the more time that you have remained focussed. It is such a simple concept but it really has an impact.
I have been using it for over two weeks now and the amount of work I have managed to get done in the evenings is incredible. I have such limited time to work during the week that any time I do have is precious but I do find that notifications and messages that come through on my devices are super distracting but not checking them regularly does give me anxieties as to whether or not I have missed out on a potential customer. I started off by setting just twenty minutes at a time to focus on the task at hand and just knowing that I had set up the app and shouldn’t check notifications was enough to keep me on task. The very idea of ‘killing’ my tree stopped me. Soon enough I had not only set it for longer periods of time but actually exceeded the time limit on my device and before I knew it I had actually finished a piece of work. I have found it really satisfying to see how much time I can bank using this app and it makes me want to improve on the day before.
The other amazing thing about that app is that it not only helps you but it is making a difference in the real world too. As you use the app and stay focused you collect tokens that can be used to unlock more trees to plant. These tokens can also be used to plant real trees too! How amazing is that? So far Forest has planted 230,928 trees and I will be sure to use my tokens for this worthwhile cause too.
Forest is available in the App Store and on Google Play and is priced at £1.99. Now I am not usually one to buy apps unless I am sure they will be used frequently and are the best option for me but I can honestly say it is worth every bit of that price tag for the difference it has made to me so far.
Although the very idea that an app like this should be ‘needed’ is sad, the reality is that we live in a world where we now rely heavily on technology and in many ways that is a good thing. It keeps us connected with others and well informed but at a heavy cost, not only financially but socially too. I have seen so many people out in restaurants with their partners, both glued to their devices and not exchanging a single word to each other during the entire meal. It seems alien to me, but maybe that’s because I have too much to say and am too typically British to be so rude. I do hope however that this app can be used in a positive way to make us all realise that keeping on top of our never ending notifications isn’t the be all and end all of life.