Feeling distracted? This iPhone app has a cute and effective approach to procrastination

The Forest app screenshots from iPhone from the Apple App Store.
Grow a little forest as you work with the Forest app. (Image credit: Forest app/Apple App Store)

The Forest app logo from the Apple App Store.

(Image credit: Forest app/Apple App Store)

iPhone/iPad/Apple Watch - Free (Offers In-App Purchases)

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Badges and leaderboards don’t work for me. This is why I love Duolingo but always have the nagging notifications turned off. But what if I was rewarded with a cute little virtual forest when I work and avoid distractions rather than an arbitrary badge? That hits differently.

This is the thinking behind the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch app Forest. It’s been around for a while, but I recently started using it again to focus on my work, spend less time scrolling and add a bit of spice to the Pomodoro technique – a way of working in 25-minute chunks.

Stay focused for longer 

The Pomodoro technique is one of my favorite ways of working. You set a timer to work for 25 minutes. Then you take a short break; then you work for a further 25 minutes. You can then choose to take a longer break after four. I find that’s the perfect amount of time to get stuck into work and get some writing done, but then I take a break while I’m ahead so I don’t get tired, lose focus, and end up procrastinating. 

Loads of apps will help you work this way – you can also just use the timer on your phone. But Forest is a Pomodoro timer with a difference. 

By using Forest to work in these 25-minute chunks, you grow a virtual forest as you focus, unlocking new trees along the way. The catch is that once you plant a seed, it’ll only grow into a tree if you resist the temptation to look at your phone. If you leave the app the tree withers.

Yes, Forest employs gamifying tactics, but it does so in a unique way. The fact that I’m growing and building something virtually as I create and write in real-life is what makes it appealing to me. It's a fresh approach that genuinely helps with procrastination, and it might just be the solution you've been looking for. 

If you want more from Forest, you can earn rewards as you grow and unlock different tree species. You can also share the forest you’ve grown with friends and other users, which allows you to unlock achievements.

Forest is available for a one-time payment of $3.99/£3.99. Considering its potential benefits, like improved focus, reduced phone distractions, and the unique experience of growing your own virtual plants and trees, it’s a worthwhile investment. If you need a new work timer and find the idea of Forest appealing, you’ll find it's well worth it.


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Becca Caddy

Becca Caddy is a contributor to iMore, as well as a freelance journalist and author. She’s been writing about consumer tech and popular science for more than a decade, covering all kinds of topics, including why robots have eyes and whether we’ll experience the overview effect one day. She’s particularly interested in VR/AR, wearables, digital health, space tech and chatting to experts and academics about the future. She’s contributed to TechRadar, T3, Wired, New Scientist, The Guardian, Inverse and many more. Her first book, Screen Time, came out in January 2021 with Bonnier Books. She loves science-fiction, brutalist architecture, and spending too much time floating through space in virtual reality. Last time she checked, she still holds a Guinness World Record alongside iMore Editor in Chief Gerald Lynch for playing the largest game of Tetris ever made, too.