How to make your life more organized with Amazon Alexa
Set reminders, manage your calendar, update to-do lists and more, all with your voice
By now, everyone knows how Alexa can play music, answer questions and control your smart home devices. But Amazon's virtual assistant can also play a key role in making your life more organized.
Alexa can add items to your to-do lists, run several timers at once, add appointments to your calendar, remind you of anything, and even help you get to work on time.
Here's the GearBrain guide to using Alexa to help organize your life:
How to share your calendar with Alexa
Calendars from Google Gmail, G Suite, Microsoft Outlook, Office 365 and Apple iCloud can all be logged into with Alexa.
Once you have shared your calendar with Alexa, you can add appointments to it with voice commands and, new for May 2018, ask Alexa to make changes to your schedule. Alexa can even be used to set up one-to-one meetings with your colleagues, automatically picking time slots which work for both of you.
How to add items to your Amazon shopping list
If you've just remembered you need to buy something online but are busy doing something else around the home, Alexa can maintain a list for you. Just say: "Alexa, add [item name or description] to my shopping list."
Next time you're on the Amazon website, under the 'Your Lists' tap you'll see your Alexa Shopping List. This isn't a list of specific items, but of the exact words you asked Alexa to add to the list. For example, we added AA batteries; we can then click 'show search results' to search the site for an exact item.
How to check on your commute traffic
If you drive to work you can tell Alexa your destination and she'll let you know how the traffic looks whenever you ask. To enable this, follow these instructions:
You can also add waypoints, for if you pick colleagues up on the way, for example
Now you can say: "Alexa, how's my commute?" and the assistant will give a rough overview of traffic conditions, followed by the estimated time of the quickest route, and which main roads that route uses.
How to add items to your to-do lists
Alexa is compatible with a range of to-do lists, such as Any.do, AnyList and Todoist. Sign into the one you use via the Settings page of the Alexa app, then enable the app's skill and log in when prompted to.
Alternatively, you can use IFTTT (If This, Then That) to make Alexa talk with Evernote. This IFTTT applet, made by Amazon itself, updates Evernote with everything you add to an Alexa to-do list. This applet adds your Alexa shopping list items to Evernote.
How to manage multiple timers with Alexa
It's easy to have Alexa look after multiple timers at once, helping you keep on top of cooking and baking. For a single timer, just say: "Alexa, set a timer for 5 minutes" and the assistant will sound an alarm when that time elapses.
For multiple timers, say: "Alexa, set a timer called [name] for 10 minutes" then say: "Alexa, set a timer for [name] for six minutes" and you will be alerted at the right time for each. Cancelling each timer by name is a case of asking Alexa to "cancel the [name] timer". If she doesn't hear you properly, Alexa will ask which timer you'd like cancelling and remind you of the names of every timer you have running.
How to ask Alexa to remind you of anything
Say: "Alexa, remind me to take the garbage out on Thursday morning" and she'll ask for the time. Let her know and she'll faithfully remind you at the right time. You can also ask Alexa to remind you every day at a set time, or every week on the same day.
Cancelling these reminders isn't as simple as cancelling timers, because if you set more than one you'll need to go into the Alexa app to cancel the right one. If you only have one reminder set (even one which repeats every week), it can be canceled by saying: "Alexa, cancel my reminder."
Check out The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility checker to see the other compatible products that work with Amazon Alexa.