2018 was the year I really got into using the app Forest: Stay Focused. You can read about it on their website here, but I’m also going to tell you what this app is about and how I have been using it over the past year.
The whole point of the app, as evident from the name, is to keep you off your phone so you can do your work, and rewarding you with trees and money to buy more trees, so you can grow a forest. It’s good for anyone who needs to do anything in life really, but I particularly found it good as a student who needed to stay off my phone, away from facebook and twitter and instagram, and focus on my course work. It’s also good for people working who want or need to stay off their phones for the same reason, or people struggling with phone addictions. I’ve used it to stay off my phone during movies, during lectures, and also to time things like laundry and other chores around the house. I’ll get back to this later, with pictures, so I can show you.
Firstly, how Forest works, is you set a timer, anywhere between 10 minutes and 2 hours, and then you don’t touch your phone in that time, and it grows a tree or a bush for you. If you exit the app or try to use your phone to go on other apps, your bush or tree dies. Bushes grow when you set the time to 10, 15, or 20 minutes, while trees grow when you set the time to anything longer than that. Up to 55 minutes, you grow one tree. At 1 hour, you grow two trees. At 90 minutes, you grow three trees, and at the longest time setting of 2 hours, you grow four trees, each one a little more advanced and fancy looking than the previous one.
When you start out, you have one tree and one bush available. As you continue to grow trees, you get coins that you can use in the shop and buy different types of bushes and trees. The first one you buy costs 500 coins, the next 600, then 700, 800, 900, and 1000, but once you reach that, every other tree or bush remains 1000 coins as well. Use the “watch ad to double coins” feature to earn coins faster. For 2 hours, you get 43 coins, so 86 if you watch an ad and double it. If you buy the premium version, you can unlock achievements that give you more coins, you can turn off the ad feature, or you can choose to keep it on to keep earning more coins. You can also donate your coins, meaning you use them to plant a real tree in the world, it costs 2500 coins. Personally I have not done this, but I’m planning to do so as I’ve now saved up a lot of coins and there are no more trees, bushes, or sounds for me to buy in the shop at this moment. Oh yes, you can also choose to have sounds, such as forest rain, cafe noises, thunder storm, times square, and beach waves, if you like these kinds of sound in the background when working.
The picture above shows the whole forest I grew in 2018, with a graph. 3858 living trees and bushes, 60 that I’ve had to kill because I needed my phone for some reason. 1929 hours, that’s about 80.3 days, so that’s something like 2.5 months of time that I’ve spent growing my forest over the course of one year!
So, I didn’t really get into using the app in January, at all. I had used it before, for a few days one month in 2017, because someone told me about it, but as you can see, I kind of forgot the app existed.
In February, I started using the app in the last half of the month. This was a time period where I went to visit my boyfriend in England, and I used the trees when we were watching things together to stay off my phone, and the sunflower which was probably the first bush I spent money on, was from me reading a book that was kind of boring and slow to read, so I did 20 minutes at a time and tried to get through as much as possible. But this was my beginning!
In March, things started to pick up. At the beginning, I was just using random trees and planting whatever I felt like, but later on in the month I realised I could use different trees for different things, and I started colour coding, or should I say tree coding, my subjects. I gave my different subjects a tree each, so 4 trees for 4 classes, and I started growing trees during lectures to stay off my phone, and used the same codes for when I was studying the different subjects outside of class as well.
I changed up my codes once, I believe, and I added more trees as well. I had the four trees for my classes, but I also had a tree for free time/me time, and I kept buying bushes and using them for shorter things, like when I needed a timer for 10 minutes or having a shower, those kinds of things.
I’m not entirely sure why I planted less trees in May than I did in April, to be honest. It doesn’t make sense, because I had exams for the majority of the month – home exams and school exams. You can see that one of the classes was majorly prioritised, and I think that was because I had a home exam stretching 2.5 weeks, then one day of break, a school exam, one day break, another school exam, and on that same day, another one week home exam starting as well.
June has less trees because I finished my studies at the university this month. I finished up my exams in the beginning of the year, and the green trees are me having free time and me time, and I also started growing trees when I went to bed. This was when I started to get annoyed that you could only grow them for 2 hours max, because I’d usually sleep 7-8, and would have liked to have grown trees the whole night. How hard would it be to extend the focus time from 2 hours to 6 hours right? And you’d get 12 trees out of it? Would also be good for anyone not allowed their phone at work, or during an exam… My school exams were 4 hours long, but I have had 6 hour ones in the past, and I did grow trees during the exams this spring, but as with the sleeping trees, I could only plant that one 2-hour tree, which was a bit annoying. It’s safe to say I was getting a bit addicted to growing trees by this point, I’d grow one for anything I could think of.
By June, the cherry trees changed function for me. While they’d previously been for one of my classes, I changed it for work during my summer job. We weren’t allowed phones, had to leave them in our lockers, and because we had specific break times I’d calculate the time so I could use my phone on my lunch break, so I grew trees before and after.
Not much changed for me during the summer, I kept using Forest in the same way throughout July and August as well.
In August, my summer job finished and on the 23rd I moved, which is why I have less trees grown towards the end of the month, only really the night time trees, maybe a few for some movies.
In September, I went ahead and bought all the remaining trees and bushes. A few new ones were released throughout the autumn months as well. I even bought AND USED one I never thought I would – the cotton candy tree. That was for my birthday. Other than that, I grew lemon trees during the day, and the blue night sky and space ship trees at night, just to give my forest some variation. As you can see from the time, I started using the app more, and that’s not because I was using my phone less. By this time, I was no longer a student, and no longer working my summer job, I had no need to stay off my phone to focus, so I started taking advantage of the whitelisting feature the app offers. Basically, you can select apps you want to be able to use without killing your tree, and I’ve selected some, like google, twitter, and instagram, while kept others blacklisted, like facebook, which annoys me to pieces. I had no need to grow trees at this point, but it almost turned into a game of trying to see how many trees I can grow in a day, how big can I grow my forest. It’s satisfying, and it’s addictive.
For October, I changed the colours again. Now I wanted to go for a more autumnal theme. I had red and yellow trees, and I wanted to use both, and since November is also a mostly autumnal month, I went with yellow for October, and red for November, as you can see below, and also switched my night time tree to a new one they brought out, with a moon and a sleeping bunny. Oh and the ghost bush came out for halloween, I barely remembered it, so I only have a few that I grew really late on the 31st, which is why they show up in both months. Previously, when you started growing a tree before midnight, it would only appear in that day’s forest, even if it was past midnight when it finished. This was changed in the autumn, and now, if a 2 hour tree is started even just 5 minutes before midnight, all four trees show up on both days.
For December, Forest brought out a Christmas theme. Basically, this was something you could turn on in your settings, and you’d get a white ground, snow across the screen, and all the trees and bushes were decorated for the holidays. From the graph of the first picture, you can see that December was my best month for growing trees. This was largely because I wanted to make sure I grew every single type of tree and bush during the month, which you can see from the picture. For the first half of the month I only grew the different pine and spruce trees, because they are very Christmassy, but then I started to grow other trees on travel days and the days I spent with my family over the holidays. On one day, I grew only bushes, all the bushes, three times each. Candy trees for Christmas and New Year’s Eve…. and on some days I tried to stick to themes or shapes, so for example “only the round looking trees” or “only the oddly shaped ones” or “only the colourful ones” or “only green ones”. I made it through all of the trees and bushes. And the theme stayed on, so even though the month is over, when I go back to December on my phone those trees are still in Christmas mode.
So that was my year in growing trees in 2018! I hope you enjoyed this entry, I might blog more about this app in the future, or similar apps. I definitely recommend trying it, it’s very easy to use and highly addictive – it sounds contradictory, but being addicted to an app that keeps you off your phone can’t be a bad thing surely?
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