Using the ‘Forest’ app for time management

Dr. Emmy van den Heuvel is a Lecturer in in Psychology. Here she shares how she uses the ‘Forest’ app for time management. Contact her at: for more information!

Although I don’t normally use technology for time/project management, this app really helped me to focus more and procrastinate less. The app is called ‘Forest’ ( and works as a timer. Similar to the ‘Pomodoro technique’ you can set a specific time to work, and allow yourself short breaks in between the blocks of time. You can decide how long you set the timer for, e.g. 60 mins.

What makes the ‘Forest’ app different from a kitchen timer is that every time you set the timer you plant a virtual tree. It starts with a small leaf, and grows into a tree during your set block of time. If you leave the app while your tree is growing, you get a warning. If you continue to use your phone for something else, your tree will die. It was a real eye opener to how often I check my phone, and how easily I get distracted by it.

If you manage to not kill your tree, you get points (e.g. 60 min of focussing will give you 21 points). If you use the paid version of the app you can use these points to “buy” different types of trees/flowers, e.g. cactus or cherry blossom tree. Or you can save them up to plant a real tree. The app is linked to an organisation (Trees for the Future) that will plant a real tree somewhere on earth. You need a lot of points for this though (2500 points) so it will take a while.

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