Outbox is designed to help with productivity through means that do not require using the most popular productivity tool; your phone. Made using mostly paper, these simple tools are alternatives to apps on your phone that allow for physical interaction with objects. Once the paper tops are assembled, they slide atop of a 3D printed base holding a micro controller and a servo.

The Problem

Our phones are great for many tasks, and on paper your phone seems like a great tool to help with productivity; it’s almost always with you, it can easily remind you to do tasks at specific location, and allows for a lot of customizability. The problem however is that if you use your phone is also an entertainment device. If you look above at your notifications on your phone, they are designed to pull you into their app. That makes it very easy to open your phone with the intent to check your to-do lists, and then you end up spending hours on Instagram.

Our phones cannot be both a tool for productivity and social media.

The Notebook & Mailbox

Outbox is centered around a notebook that you carry with you. On the left page of every spread, there is a list that has three dots on every line. At the end of the day, the idea is that you write down the tasks you want to accomplish the next day, and fill in one the circles if the task corresponds to a common location. These common locations are places such as your office desk or your kitchen where you can have a mailbox. Then once you’re done writing these things, you place your notebook on a base and go to bed. The base then runs a circuit through the notebook using the conductive ink that this used to make the lines in the notebook. The base checks for changes in resistance for each column of the circles and if it notices a change, it puts the flag up on the mailbox, reminding you when you get to the location that you had a task you wanted to do there.

The Flags

The flags were created to help with time tracking. Time tracking is a good way to help with reflection of how productive you were in a day. The flags integrate with Toggl, a time tracking app, and each flag corresponds to a common task that you set up. To start time tracking one of those common tasks, you pull the tab at the front and the flag pops up. To stop tracking, you push the tab in and the flag lowers.

A demonstration as to the designs that went towards the final calendar design

The Calendar

The calendar integrates with your Google Calendar so you can check what you’re suppose to be doing at any given time. The colors of the color wheel correspond to the colors affiliated with the events on your calendar. In front of the color wheel is a circle with a hole cut out to only reveal the color of the current task in your calendar.


All of the tools are made from the same materials: a paper pattern and some electronics in a 3D printed enclosure. To assemble, all you have to do is cut the pattern, fold, glue, and you're done! Because the goal of Outbox is to provide a platform that works best for you, you can also change the code on the microcontroller (using the Arduino IDE) in any way that helps with your workflow.