Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Forest - A Tool to Help You Focus on Important Tasks

When I need to focus and get a lot of writing done, I set a timer and tell myself that I can't stop writing until the timer goes off. Forest is a Chrome extension that basically does the same thing plus it blocks me from websites that could distract me from getting things done. 

Forest lets you specify the websites that you want to block yourself from visiting while your timer is running. For example, with Forest installed I can set a timer for fifteen minutes and the timer goes off I can't visit Twitter, Facebook, or any other site that I choose to block. The "reward" for working until the timer goes off is a digital tree that is planted in my digital forest (there's also the satifisfaction of completing a task without getting distracted). 

In this short video I demonstrate how Forest works. 



Applications for Education
One thing that I like about Forest is the psychology of working in blocks and saying "okay, for the next 15 minutes I'll focus" instead of "I can't visit my favorite social media sites." There's also the component of getting a little visual reward for completing a focused block of time. For students who need some help focusing to write a long paper or develop a presentation, Forest could be just what they need.