Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Maybe you recently got an Echo or a similar voice-activated gadget from Amazon. Or perhaps you are a long-time owner who uses the device regularly.
In either case, you may wonder how to use the Alexa personal assistant for improved productivity. Asking Alexa to tell you a joke is amusing but it doesn’t help you make progress.
Fortunately, there are numerous ways to use Echo and Alexa to get more done in a day.
1. Set Automated Updates With Alexa Routines
The Alexa Routines capability is relatively new. It allows you to trigger certain actions based on things you do, similar to the concept employed by IFTTT. Two of them involve getting information about traffic and weather.
To get started, go into the Alexa app on your smartphone and tap the menu icon on the upper left. From there, select Routines. Then, select Create Routine. (You have to be connected to the internet to do this.)
Next, you set a trigger that makes the traffic and weather information start. Select When This Happens on the screen you see after tapping Create Routine.
From there, you can make the action occur when you say something or at a particular time. There are also settings related to how often the routine happens.
After setting up those specifics, you pick the desired action. Tap the Add Action option. You can have Alexa activate a smart home device in addition to giving traffic and weather details. There’s a news briefing action, too.
When you’re finished, tap the Create button at the bottom of the screen.
Consider the trick of saying “Good morning, Alexa” to activate a routine for traffic and weather updates. It saves time by preventing you from looking up the information necessary for starting your day right.
2. Add Items to a Grocery or To-Do List
Lists are handy, but writing them takes time. With Alexa’s help, you can put new items on a list by speaking.
Just say “Add [item] to my shopping list.” You can also say “Add [task] to [name of the list].”
3. Set Alarms or Timers
Sleeping too late often compromises productivity. However, it’s easy to set an alarm with Alexa.
Say “Set an alarm for [time of day]” to schedule a one-time alarm. Alternatively, use this command for recurring alarms: “Set a repeating alarm for [day of week] at [time of day].” To manage a ringing alarm, you can say, “Snooze” or “Stop.” The first command silences the alarm for nine minutes.
Timers are great sources of motivation. They confirm how long tasks take or the duration remaining on the clock. Alexa also recognizes the names of created timers. To use Alexa as a timer, say “Set a [name of timer] timer for [duration].” For example, “Set a house cleaning timer for one hour.”
After that, Alexa can tell you the remaining time once you ask. Say, “How much time is left on my timer?”
4. Convert Measurements as You Cook
Even the most productive cooks sometimes get delayed by time-consuming measurement conversions. With Alexa, you don’t have to depend on Google or your memory for this component of cooking.
Simply say something like, “Alexa, how many tablespoons are in a cup?” Get the answer moments later and realize how convenient Alexa is to have in the kitchen.
5. Place Orders and Avoid Running Out of Essentials
Like many people, you might order necessities on Amazon and take advantage of Prime for fast shipping.
However, running out of something unexpectedly can derail all plans for maximum productivity. It might require driving to stores, waiting in lines, or realizing the item you need isn’t available.
However, Alexa remembers items purchased on Amazon and you can use your Echo to order them. Get Prime Now-eligible items in two hours or less, too.
First, enable voice purchasing through the Alexa app. Tap the menu button and then go to Settings. Choose Voice Purchasing. Then, manipulate the toggle switch associated with the Purchase by Voice section.
Want to lock down purchasing privileges? Look for the settings related to requiring a confirmation code. Type a four-digit password into the box provided. You’ll speak it out to authorize each order. You can make it from letters, numbers, or a combination. Click Save Changes after entering it.
While looking at those settings, notice the area for payment settings. It’s a good idea to look at the details within and make sure they’re correct.
Order products by saying “Alexa, order [full product name or product category].” For product categories, Alexa looks through search results. A “No” or “Yes” command confirms which item to buy.
6. Let Alexa Add a Meeting to Your Calendar
Have you connected your calendar with Alexa? If not, choose Settings from the Alexa app menu, then Calendar. Choose the service you use from the list of providers shown.
Alexa supports Google, Apple, and Microsoft calendars. Tap the Link option and enter your account information.
Then, you’re ready to use Alexa to put meetings on your calendar.
Say “Schedule a [event name] with [person’s name] at [time] today/tomorrow, etc.” For example: “Schedule a coffee date with Sarah today at 3pm.”
Alternatively, use the command, “Create a meeting called [name] with [person].”
Alexa can even send meeting invites to attendees. After you schedule a meeting, Alexa asks if you want to do that. If so, just say, “Yes.” You can also say, “Invite [person] to [name of the meeting] at [time].”
7. Translate From English to Other Languages
Occasions may arise when you need to correctly say short greetings or other phrases to non-English speakers. That’s especially likely if you have clients or colleagues who work in other countries.
Luckily, there’s Translated. It’s a downloadable Alexa skill that translates English into 36 languages.
Haven’t used skills before? Get ready by tapping the menu icon in the Alexa app, then choose Skills. Type the skill name into the search box. After finding it, select Enable Skill.
8. Ask Alexa to Read Compatible Content Aloud
Like many people, perhaps you learn best when hearing spoken content and taking notes simultaneously.
However, that process often takes a lot of time, not to mention dedication. The good news is that Alexa can read Kindle books to you, which could boost overall efficiency. However, they don’t all have the required built-in technology.
Want to determine if you own Alexa-ready content? Go to the Music, Video, & Books option of the Alexa app menu. Scroll down to Books. Next, select Kindle. A dropdown list shows available devices. Choose your Echo from it.
After the setup process, just say “Play Kindle book, [title].”
When you need to stop the audio to begin another task, say “Stop.” Otherwise, pick up where you left off with the “Resume” command. You can also pause or skip the content.
9. Never Miss Another Appointment or Obligation
Remember the steps for using Alexa to create meetings and invite people to them? Those aren’t the only calendar-related abilities Alexa offers.
Ask “How’s my day look?” to get a rundown of your obligations. Then, it’s easier to decide if you have a full day already or can take on other responsibilities.
The query, “What’s my next appointment?” is also handy. It keeps you informed and prevents forgetting about an important gathering.
How Will You Get More Out of Alexa This Week?
Thanks to these productivity-boosting capabilities, you can rely on Echo and Alexa to accomplish more. Consider taking notes about how much time and energy you save due to the technology. Reading the results might make you eager to share these Echo usage tips with friends.
How will you improve your productivity with your Echo this week? Tell us in the comment section below!