I recently discoved a fantastic app.
Like many people the constant bombardment of notifications, messages, emails, and reminders can be overwhelming. Our brains are wired to give us a little shot of dopamine for every “Like” we get or each time someone sends us a message. The most addictive mobile games capitalise on this by setting short terms goals staggered through the day which encourage us to pick up and play over and over again. It’s fair to say that it turns us all into a bunch of phone zombies.
Knowing I’m especially guilty of “just upgrading that building” or “just reading that email” while I’m trying to work and spend time with my family I was curious when I discovered Forest.
Forest is well aware of all those little dopamine triggers but uses them for good, not evil. The premise is simple. You select how long you want to put your phone down for and plant a tree, if you leave the forest screen to use social media, read your email, or look at pictures of cats then your tree will wither and die. The more successful times you leave your phone alone the more gold you earn, the more trees you can unlock, and the more real life trees which will be planted because of you.
It’s sneaky, but it works. I’ve written this blog post without looking at my phone once (well, except to capture the screenshot). Within a few days I found myself avoiding picking up my phone to answer calls or take photos during my Work or Family time. A far cry from when I’d jump at every text message to reply immediately.
Do you already use Forest (or something like it)? Do you have any other tricks for helping you focus and avoid mobile distractions?