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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Guelph chapter.

If there were one thing I knew that I was going to struggle with when learning from home, it would be concentration. I’ve always been a bit – well, inattentive, and I found it got about 10x worse for learning at the end of last year when I wasn’t in a classroom environment, and I’m sure many others have the same struggles I do. Motivating myself to do schoolwork and keeping myself concentrated on that work was hard for me – especially in classes where lectures were pre-recorded, and I didn’t need to show up in a zoom call.  

Though there are clearly more distractions at home than there are in a classroom, my biggest time-waster is my phone for me (and I imagine many others). I’d be doing work, my attention would start to drift, and I’d pick up my phone to check Twitter, Instagram, whatever – even if I told myself I’d only spend a certain amount of time on my phone, I found myself getting distracted constantly, and it was quite frustrating. It wasn’t like I didn’t want to concentrate on my schoolwork; I just simply felt like I couldn’t. When I saw a suggestion for an app called Flora, I decided to try it out, and I’m so glad I did because it completely changed how I concentrate at home.  

Flora is an app designed to help you stay off your phone for periods of time that you can choose. The way it works is that you open up the app, set a timer (this time can be as short or long as you like!), and go do your work – on the app, you start growing a tree. If you keep off of your phone for the allotted time, it gets to grow completely! There are many different kinds of trees and plants you can choose from, and the more successful sessions you have, the more options you get. Some trees you can unlock from doing longer sessions. Every tree that you grow successfully goes into your garden and stays there for 7 days – it’s extremely satisfying to have your own garden full of different kinds of trees!  

You may be asking, what happens if you don’t keep off of your phone successfully? Well, if you unlock your phone and exit the Flora app, the tree will die (not instantly – if it gives you a warning in case you close the app by accident). This tree also stays in your garden for seven days, and let me tell you – it’s not a good feeling to have to look at a tree you’ve killed every time you look at the app, even if it’s a virtual one. I haven’t killed many trees in my time using the app, but I always feel strangely guilty whenever I do. Between the desire to keep my trees alive and the satisfaction that comes with having a pretty, versatile garden, this app gives me a motivation boost to keep off my phone and focuses on my work! You can even set up a to-do list in the app to remind you of when you want to have sessions and how long you want to have them for! Even though this app is only designed to keep you off your phone and not other distractions (such as your laptop), I still find it extremely useful and motivating. I am using it right now as I write this article! However, there’s also a Chrome extension of Flora in the works, which I’m super excited about! 

Another awesome feature on the app is that Flora also has a social option where you can grow trees together with your friends – this can be used not only as a study group tool but just in general (you know, those days when you go out to dinner with your friends and everyone is on their phone? It’s time to squash that habit!). 

This app is completely free, but if you want even more of a motivation boost, there’s another option – Flora offers an opt-in Price service that lets you plant real trees when you kill a tree in the app. You can do this by setting a Price on your tree – if the tree dies, you will get charged, and the money goes towards planting real trees with their partner organizations in areas such as Africa and East Asia. I myself have never tried this option, but I imagine it gives you extra motivation to stay off your phone, and if you don’t, the money goes towards a good cause! 

I hope this app is as helpful for others as it is for me – get planting! 

Leah is a fourth year Marine Biology student at the University of Guelph and a writer and editor in chief for Her Campus. In her free time she can be found engaging in activities such as reading and writing, drinking iced coffee, playing video games and staring longingly at the dogs she’s not allowed to pet on campus.
Guelph Contributor Account for writers at the University of Guelph!