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04 October 2013

By Victoria Woollaston

Is this the best work rota ever?

Calendar made of LEGO syncs with a smartphone to give employees up-to-date information

Each row on the Lego calendar, pictured, represents a month and every column is a day of the week. Staff members each have their own mini figures. A work project is given its own colour, and a paper colour index is created for each staff. Each Lego brick then represents a half day spent on a particular project

Forget spreadsheets, diaries and time stamps, a design studio in London has created the ultimate work planner made entirely of Lego that syncs with online calendars - meaning it is always up to date.

Created by Vitamins Design, the Lego calendar is mounted to the studio wall in East London and staff members are each assigned their own mini figure.

Each row of flat Lego represents a month, with time slots and tasks determined by different coloured and sized Lego bricks.

When a photo is taken of the calendar, specially-designed software scans the image, identifies the various parts and syncs the data with an online, Google Calendar version.

Vitamins Design said: 'One thing we always talk about in the studio is how to organise ourselves - it's something we always think we can improve.

'So we started looking at all the different ways people organise things; from post-it notes on computer screens, diaries, to-do lists and some really complex project planning software.

'[The Lego calendar] makes the most of the tangibility of physical objects, and the ubiquity of digital platforms, and it also puts a smile on our faces when we use it!'

The calendar has also been designed to be secure.

Vitamins Design added: 'We needed something we could put up on the wall without revealing our client names, or project information to casual passers by'.

The team has three months visible at any one time on the wall of their studio.

Every column represents a day of the week and each staff member has their own row. A work project is given its own colour, and an index is created so that everyone knows which colour represents which project.

Every time a user changes something on the calendar, they take a photo of it with any smartphone, pictured. The photo is emailed to a special address, scanned for different colours and sizes, and a reply is sent letting the user know the information on the Lego calendar has been synchronised

Each Lego brick then represents a half day spent on a particular project.

Staff members are assigned mini figures, pictured, and the Lego bricks are lined up along the row that corresponds with that employee

Vitamin Designs has written software that scans the image, searching for the position and colour of every brick.

It then syncs with a cloud version of the calendar and the information is automatically updated across devices of anyone who has subscribed to it.

The software has also been designed to work with any phone.

'Every time you change something on the calendar, all you need to do it take a photo of it with any smartphone,' said Vitamins Design.

'Then, you just email the photo to a special address we created. A couple of seconds later you'll receive an email letting you know that all of the information on the Lego calendar has been synchronised to your digital calendar.

'We use Google Calendar at the moment, but this would work with any cloud based calendar.'

The design studio has been using the calendar for around a year and the team joke that staff members sometimes hide emergency blocks of 'time', and have started using double height bricks to represent deadlines and important meetings.

'Its power is in its the immediacy and tangibility. Rather than recording minute details about what to do each day, it shows you an immediate overview of how your time is allocated spent in relation to the rest of the studio.

'It sounds crazy, but this way you actually notice when something has changed, and you need to physically find a place to put the bricks you have removed - rather than a digital square quietly vanishing in the background on your computer screen.'

The team plan to upload the computer code online so other people can start using it.

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