What it promises: The Forest app promises to be useful for those of us who are addicted to our phones. With this app you can put a stop to all that aimlessness by planting a virtual tree which will only grow and prosper if you stop checking your phone.
How it worked: In one sense this app is great: it reminds you to be present in the current moment when you unlock your phone.
However, it relies heavily on people feeling guilty about killing a non-existent tree or using their social media accounts on their laptops instead.
That being said, it is possible to connect a group of devices together with other users to grow a virtual forest through the Premium version.
Perhaps the sense of accountability ensures that all group members keep their hands off their phones. If even one person leaves the app before the timer has finished, all of the trees will die.
What it promises: This app promises to “eliminate day-dreaming” and be a “cure for distractions” by helping users organise their work and have more self-control when it comes to their daily tasks. Engross allows you to set up recap, study, and revision sessions along with breaks.
How it worked: Engross works by asking users to tap a circle in the middle of the screen whenever they find themselves day-dreaming.
However, contrary to Forest, Engross allows the users to access other apps during the course of their study session without the timer being affected.
This meant that I became easily distracted and often forgot that I was meant to be steering clear of distractions such as my social media accounts.
In theory, Engross works well but in practice it relies quite heavily on the user being honest about the amount of distractions per study session and having the self-control not to use their phone, something with which I struggled.
What it promises: Tide promises to “make your time more productive and enjoyful” by using sounds of nature and the popular Pomodoro Technique of time management.
The app also tracks its weekly usage so that you can check how often or for how long at a time you have used it to help you concentrate.
How it worked: The effectiveness of this app comes from its simplicity. It doesn’t require you to do anything other than select a soundtrack prior to starting your task.
The app has five different soundtracks: ocean, rain, forest, meditation music and cafe, meaning that you never have to study and relax to the same sounds. Tide helped me get all of those little “I’ll do it tomorrow” tasks out of the way whenever I had 10 minutes or so to spare.
It is ideal for anyone who is struggling to either concentrate on studying, get small tasks out of the way, or just find a moment to be mindful and reflective without distractions.