Trouble Procrastinating? Try Growing Virtual Plants

Like a lot of people, I have always been a procrastinator. No matter how badly I wish I could be the type of person who finished homework days in advance, due dates always creep up on me. Anyone who procrastinates knows the dreaded feeling of watching Netflix while slowly panicking about that paper you’ve been putting off.

When I started my first ever semester of college this fall, I knew online learning would be a challenge. I felt totally overwhelmed with assignments, due dates, and overall college life, and my time management skills went out the window. I started looking for apps that would keep me focused while I was doing homework and help me keep track of my goals. So many apps I found were confusing to use, didn’t have a clear way to track patterns, and often required expensive monthly payments. However, I finally found an app, Flora, that I have been using all fall and have been loving.

 

Screenshot of the Flora app Photo by Katherine Dickey / Flora app

The premise of Flora is simple —set timers to grow virtual plants, and if you use your phone during that time, you’ll kill the plant and lose your progress :(. There is even an option to wager money on your focus time — if you kill an in-game tree, your money is taken to grow a real-life tree! At first, I wasn’t sure if it would even work for me, as I have a tendency to want to be plugged in all the time. However, I quickly fell in love with using Flora, and growing plants is the perfect incentive to avoid wasting time on my phone while doing homework.

 

Screenshot of the Flora app Photo by Katherine Dickey / Flora app

In Flora, you travel around the globe and focus for a designated amount of time to grow plants native to different countries. For example, when you get to France, you have to focus for at least 25 uninterrupted minutes in order to grow lavender. When you complete all the plants in the country, you move on to the next, and the time goals begin to increase as you travel across the globe. Towards the end of the tour, in Russia and the West Coast, the goals are 50+ minutes, which definitely took some dedication for me to complete. I have yet to use the real-life tree feature, but I’m excited to challenge myself to try it.

 

Screenshot of the Flora app Photo by Katherine Dickey / Flora app

Once you begin to log some focus time, you can see the breakdown of your focus minutes in a two-week period bar graph, a monthly calendar, and a yearly graph to compare months. I’ve been using the app since early September, and it’s always a fun challenge to beat my previous times. There is also a daily recap feature that either congratulates or yells at you (oops, looking at you, Fridays when I don’t even open Moodle) for your focus the previous day. 

 

Screenshot of the Flora app Photo by Katherine Dickey / Flora app

You can also categorize your focus time by setting “tags” or creating tasks to complete. I created tags for each of my school subjects, as well as household chores like organization and laundry, to see how much undistracted time I truly spend each day on cleaning or homework. 

There are a few downsides to the app — you can’t see the daily chart of your focus time past two days, so I end up having to draw them in my notebook if I want to compare across weeks. I also wish there were more tours — I recently completed the world tour, and just impulsively bought the Amazon Rainforest expansion for $1.99, but I’ll be finished with it in a few months. You can always regrow plants, but it’s always fun to learn more about different plants across the globe.

Putting pressure on yourself to constantly be working is definitely a real thing, and towards the beginning of the semester, I would be disappointed in myself if I saw my homework time decreasing. However, some days you really just need a break, and I have been working on being proud of myself for what I accomplish while taking time off when I need it. No single app is a miracle cure either — I still procrastinate, but by tracking my focus time, I can see that I always feel better when I stay on top of my work and have a productive day. Rather than constantly stressing about looming to-do lists and deadlines, Flora has helped me break things down and focus on growing my little garden. I hope you try it out and love it as much as I do!