The Amazon Echo appeared to be a gimmicky fad when it was first released, but it's getting more functional as time goes on. Despite its primary use for entertainment, it can still help to increase productivity while working from home, as long as you know how to get the most out of the technology.
Here are six tips to get more from Alexa, along with simple voice commands to get started.
1. Setting Up Appointments and Personal Notes
The Echo can sync up to your calendar, allowing you to get a daily rundown of any upcoming plans. Use the following command to set up new appointments:
"Alexa, add Meeting with Clients to my calendar for Thursday, February 20 at 8:00am."
If you spend a lot of time jotting down ideas on paper or on your phone, Alexa can help by remembering ideas or phrases that can be easily recalled at a later date. To record a voice note the command is:
"Alexa tell My Notebook to contact Conquest Solutions to enroll in their VOIP Phone Service."
2. Timing Your Breaks
Setting up a timer with Alexa is easy enough, and it's a great way to limit your breaks while working from home and avoid distraction from household tasks like laundry or dishes. This is especially important if the pressure is off, as it'll help to fight the temptation to procrastinate.
The Alexa command to set a timer is:
"Alexa, set a break timer for 15 minutes."
3. Social Media Updates
Alexa can keep an eye on your social media account with Apps such as Twitter Reader, The Instagram Stories or Voicebook, all free to download from Amazon. You can check on trends in a specific location, or hear the latest fro your timeline. It's perfect for keeping up on what is going on around you.
To check on trends:
"Alexa, ask Twitter for Trends in Marietta, GA."
To find out what's happening in your social sphere:
"Alexa, ask Twitter what is happening?"
It's never going to be as functional as using the app directly, but it's helpful if you want to quickly check your feed while your are completing other, more important tasks.
4. Quick Phone Calls and Text Messaging
Alexa is just the right tool for sending quick messages and making phone calls, and it'll keep you from being distracted by your mobile device.
To Start a Call: "Alexa, call Matt at Conquest Solutions."
To Answer: "Alexa, Answer."
To End: "Alexa, Hang up."
Best of all it is free to use, with no hidden charges for Android users. To send a message on an iOS device you can use the third-party skill called Mastermind for a fee.
5. Rejuvenating 5 Minute Exercise Breaks
One of the major benefits of working from home is that you won't feel ridiculous if you randomly get up to do some jumping jacks or power squats.
If you're starting to feel dozy midway through the day, you can ask Alexa for a five-minute cardio workout to get your heart pumping or a relaxing yoga sequence to calm your nerves and refocus.
"Alexa, open five-minute workout."
You'll feel much better afterwards, more alert and capable of tackling the rest of the days tasks. Exercise will also produce serotonin, which is helpful when combating various forms of work-related stress. Plus, it's a great way to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine to meet your health goals.
6. Background Music
Newer versions of Echo come equipped with a powerful speaker which can be heard throughout most homes. Its great for background noise to keep you focused, while helping to eliminate any distractions in the immediate vicinity, like traffic or noisy neighbors.
Amazon offers a range of ambient background sounds, from frog noises to a babbling brook. Also, look for soundtracks specifically tailored to increase productivity, which can easily be found on Amazon and downloaded.
The phrase to begin is:
"Alexa, start babbling brook or memory retention music."
You can also set the sound to loop until you've finished by saying:
"Alexa, ask babbling brook music to stop."
It's a surefire way to keep your concentration levels up during long hours and there's a wide range of sounds to choose from.
Amazon's Echo continues to improve with each new iteration. There's an ever-growing list of features and updates and it can even help to increase your overall productivity while working from home.
Once you get used to giving voice commands, you'll be talking to Alexa even more than usual. A few supplemental tasks might not seem like much for now, but it's a sign of things to come with the latest in smart-speaking technology.