I am a big fan of the Amazon Alexa devices. I’ve been using them in my home for several years now, and there is just so much that these little devices can do to make your life easier.
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For those of you who have never used the Amazon Alexa devices, I want to give you a few pointers about getting started. Unlike some of the other smart home brands that require a certain hub device, you can get started with literally any Alexa device on the market. One of my personal favorites is the Alexa Echo Dot – they’re inexpensive and unobtrusive, and they can do so much!
The other thing you’ll need to do is download the Alexa app on your phone. Once you’ve done those two things your Alexa device is ready to rock and roll!
Here are some of the (super nifty!) things your Alexa can do to help keep you organized:
“Alexa, add milk to my shopping list.”
The number one thing I use Alexa for is keeping track of my shopping list. First and foremost, it’s super convenient to simply announce to the room whatever item it is that I need to add to the list, rather than having to pull out my phone or a piece of paper when I realize I’m using the last roll of paper towels. You can be as specific as you’d like – she’ll hear what you say and add it to your list.
Alexa is super smart about this grocery list. (There’s a reason they call it a “smart home”!) If you tell Alexa to add something to your shopping list that is already on the list, she’ll let you know that. When you’re ready to access your list, you simply pull it up in the Alexa app, and she’ll even have it sorted into categories for you. It’s worth noting that you can also keep multiple lists, so if you want a list specifically for Sam's Club, you can create than and then say, ‘Alexa, add paper towels to my Sam's Club shopping list.”
Shopping for You
“Alexa, order Lara bars.”
Keeping track of your shopping list is great, but doing your shopping for you is even better! Alexa can make Amazon purchases straight from your device. When you tell her what you want to purchase, she’ll start giving you the listing options (and she’ll start by searching your order history to see if you’ve ordered that item before.)
“Alexa, set pasta timer for 10 minutes.”
Gone are the days where you need to wash your hands so you can pull out your phone to set a timer for the food you just slid into the oven. Simply tell Alexa to set your timer for you – these timers are great for cooking, cleaning for a set amount of time, kids doing homework – even working out at home! I love that you can name the timers so you can have more than one timer running at once. If you ever want to know how long is left on your timer, just ask, “Alexa, how long is left on my 3 hour timer?”
“Alexa, remind me every Wednesday at 2:30 PM that it’s early school dismissal.”
Alexa truly is like your personal at home assistant. She’ll remind you of literally anything you ask her to. I’ve used this before when going to bed at night, “Alexa, remind me at 8:00 AM tomorrow to set out chicken to thaw.” Another option is to have Alexa set a reminder on a set schedule so that every Tuesday at 5:00 PM she’ll give you a reminder.
The one caveat I would give here is that you will only hear her reminder if you are home. So I wouldn’t recommend using Alexa for a reminder that’s super important – like taking a medication. You’ll probably want to keep that kind of reminder on your phone so you know you’ll get the reminder whether you’re home or not.
“Alexa, play white noise.”
Alexa has also replaced my white noise machine, and it’s incredibly convenient that she’s voice activated. There’s no more crawling into bed, getting comfortable, and then realizing I forgot to turn on the fan. I simply ask her to play white noise from my perch in my bed, and she does. She’s such a good listener! 😉
“Alexa, play Disney Movie Soundtracks everywhere.”
Ever dreamed of having a speaker system installed throughout your house? Well, Alexa is more or less exactly that. I regularly use Alexa to play music, and if you have multiple devices, you can tell her to play “everywhere” and every device in the house will play the same music. I find that to be so convenient when I’m cleaning and going in and out of all the rooms. I don’t have to blare the music from one room and barely be able to hear it from the other end of the house.
“Alexa, what’s the weather?”
Okay, so admittedly I wouldn’t recommend running out to buy an Alexa simply to have her tell you the weather, but I have found it super convenient when I’m getting dressed in the morning to just ask for the weather report so I know if I need to grab a sweater or not. My husband and I also often ask for the time…and that might be why there actually isn’t a single clock hanging in our home right now that I think of it!
“Alexa, can you do things without me speaking to you?”
Yes she can! One awesome feature of the Alexa devices is called Routines. You can set up custom routines to make Alexa do more or less anything. You choose the catalyst and the response. You could have her give the weather report when the alarm goes off. You could have her turn on the lights in the house when the sun goes down (if you have smart bulbs installed.) She’ll even start playing lullabies when she hears a baby crying! You can find and set up routines in the Alexa app.
Sunrise Alarm Clock
The Alexa Tip That Saved Me $150
I was really tempted by those sunrise alarm clocks. I was spending way too much time in bed in the morning not getting up, and I thought that filling my room with gradual light would be a great way to greet the day. We already had smart bulbs installed in our home, and I figured out that I can get a very similar effect to those $150 sunrise alarm clocks using the Routines in the Alexa app and our smart bulbs! I have a routine set to have the lights come on very, very dim at 5:40 in the morning, and they are set to gradually increase in brightness over the course of 30 minutes. I get a faux sunrise in my bedroom every morning, and I still have that $150 in my pocket!
There are probably hundreds more things you can do with Alexa, truly! These are just a few of my favorites. Do you have a favorite we left off the list? Let us know in the comments below!