Amazon’s Alexa is a surprisingly easy way to be more productive.
Four short months ago, I accompanied my husband to CES, the world’s largest technology conference. Amazon had many displays at CES. I wouldn’t even call them displays…they had their own ballrooms in several hotels across Vegas. Several were built to look like a home and you could walk through and see how their products worked together. This was more fun to me than going to Vegas for any other reason because I love technology! I will scoop up anything that will make me more productive and efficient.
While I haven’t rushed to make my home the smartest it could be, since returning from CES, I have started using more features on my Alexa and have even added more Alexas around my house for improved productivity. Read on to find out some simple ways to help your household run more efficiently!
If you are concerned about your privacy while using Amazon’s Alexa, read their FAQ article HERE.
If you need help setting up your Alexas or how to add multiple Alexas to your account, check out this guide HERE.
“Alexa, drop-in on the basement.”
We have an Alexa in our kitchen, workout room, basement, and all the bedrooms. All of our devices are connected and visible in my Alexa app so I can access them all from my phone or at each device. All I have to say is “Alexa, drop in on the basement”. The basement Alexa will signal so that anyone there can hear a message is about to come through. At that point, we can have a conversation like an intercom. I can drop in on the basement to tell the boys to get off the Xbox or drop in on my daughter in her room to wake her up or let her know dinner is ready. I love not having to yell throughout the house! To watch a tutorial on how to use the drop-in feature, click HERE.
“Alexa, make an announcement.”
Similar to the intercom feature, I can make an announcement on all my Alexas. This differs from a “drop-in” conversation in that it is a one-way announcement from one Alexa device to another. I use this when I want to tell the family something and don’t need a reply. It could be “Time to wake up” (Alexa is prepared for this announcement and usually adds a rooster sound to the message), or I will send an announcement before I leave the grocery store (from the app) to ask the family to be ready to help me bring in the bags from the car. To make an announcement, simply tap the Communication tab and then select Announce from the top menu. State your announcement and click the send button. All of your Alexas will broadcast the announcement.
“Alexa, set a reminder.”
I have several events that I want the whole family to be reminded about. For example, at 8:00 pm, we do our plank challenge. Alexa is programmed to say at 8:00 pm “Time for the plank challenge”. I also have it set to remind the kids to get ready for repeating events such as their youth group Zoom calls, their Boy Scout meetings, or my daughter’s daily class check-in call.
Here’s how… From the main menu, select Reminders & Alarms. Tap on Reminders then Add Reminder. Next, select from the prompts when, where, and how often you want the Reminder to announce and repeat. This feature also allows you to select which device should state the reminder.
“Alexa, set an alarm every day at 7:00 am and play Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.”
After the drop-in feature, this is the most used by our family. In the app or on the device you can add a repeating alarm. The alarm can repeat every day or on a custom schedule, like weekdays. A fun bonus is that you can set a specific song or playlist to play upon wake up. You can set the alarm in the app, but I feel it’s easier and more customizable to do it with your voice near the device. Check out how to set it up HERE. My daughter wakes up every morning to “Pancake Robot”!
“Alexa, what are my chores?”
This is something that I’m just getting familiar with and setting up for my kids but haven’t implemented yet. You will use the Blueprint function in Alexa and there is a great tutorial HERE. The chores are fully customizable and they will announce based on who is doing what. I can’t wait to finish setting this up!
“Alexa, play Productivity Tip of the Day Podcast”
I use this ALL THE TIME! Our home has built-in speakers in every room and we do have a receiver that can play to them. But it’s a bit clunky to get the song or podcast going. I have to make sure my phone is connected via Bluetooth to the receiver and then make sure that all the speakers are on. Instead of going through this hassle, I prefer to use my Alexas. There are a variety of platforms on which to play music and podcasts using Alexa. I use Spotify and have linked my accounts in the Music & Podcasts in Settings. When I open Spotify, I can choose to play the music from one Alexa or multiple Alexas. I love using this when I’m housecleaning and can go from room to room without disruption of a podcast or playlist!
“Alexa, add chocolate to my shopping list”
Alexa has built-in lists. You can just say “Alexa, add milk to my shopping list”. You can have multiple lists and they can be for anything, not just shopping. It’s a great feature, but I like to have my grocery list organized, rather than one big jumbled list.
I found AnyList, a list-making app that can be customized for grocery store aisles and more. AnyList syncs with Alexa so that while you’re in the midst of cooking or doing dishes or gutting your fridge, you can easily add items to your grocery list via voice and it will categorize them for you so you can be efficient in the store! The app also lets you share the list with others and even remembers prices if you want to use it for budgeting!
“Alexa, it’s a new day.”
This is another feature that I’ve just started using. I love it and use it every day! When set up, a triggering phrase starts a sequence of skills. For example, when I say “Alexa, it’s a new day”, Alexa tells me “Good Morning, Sunshine” and then reports the weather. From there, she tells me the news and then starts the Quote of the Day Podcast. All of this happens as I’m making coffee, and eating my breakfast. By the end, I’m ready to sit down and start my day. Some other examples are “Alexa, start focus time.” Alexa will then play 30 minutes of focus music. Check out more about Routines HERE.
“Alexa, what’s on my schedule for today?”
When you connect your calendar to Alexa, like Google Calendar for example, you can say “Alexa, what’s on my calendar?” Alexa will read your linked calendar. I have many calendars in my Google account, but Alexa is only connected to the family calendar, so when anyone in the family wants to check out what’s happening that day, they can do so without listening to my personal events. You can link your calendar to Alexa by following the directions HERE.
“Alexa, tell me a joke.”
Alexa has so much more to offer. They have thousands of skills that you can add to make your life more productive. I have recently installed “Find My Phone” and “Tick Tick” which is my to-do list app. My kids enjoy trivia games that they play every morning before getting out of bed. There’s a really fun skill called “Chompers” which is a toothbrushing skill for little ones. It tells a short story, joke, or other content that keeps kids brushing for two minutes. My daughter Neena was even featured on an episode with the joke “What did sushi A say to sushi B? Wasabi!” Get it? Wasss-Up-B?
So, if you have an Alexa or two and are only using it to ask it the time or weather or how many tablespoons are in a cup, explore a few of the features above to start making your life more productive and efficient! Leave us a comment to let us know your most helpful Alexa skills.