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Many people worry that smartphones are taking over our lives. They stop us from focusing on more important things.
One answer is to use a simple phone; we looked at that in the column here in August. But why not try an app instead? There are many of these “focus apps,” and they all aim to stop you from constantly checking your phone.
The apps are mostly based on the Pomodoro technique for managing time. You focus on a task for 25 minutes — ignoring all distractions — and then take a break. The technique was invented by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. He used a tomato-shaped timer; pomodoro is Italian for tomato.
You don’t need an app to do a Pomodoro, but focus apps look nice and gamify the technique. Two great apps are Forest and Flora.
Forest, for iOS and Android, is lovely to look at. When you start a task, you plant a tree. If you can concentrate on your task without touching your phone, then you get a fully grown tree. The more tasks you do, the more trees you plant, until you create a thriving forest.
Flora, also for iOS and Android, uses the same metaphor, but lets you travel the world to discover new kinds of trees. Also, if you’re studying with a friend, you can both grow trees at the same time and gain extra rewards at the end of a session.
With both Forest and Flora, your tree will wither and die if you get distracted and start scrolling through your social media or news feeds. They’re a great way to create good habits and stick to them.
Both apps also let you make the world a better place by planting real trees. Forest and Flora have partnered with Trees for the Future, a nonprofit that plants trees around the world. (T)
This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.