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When Alexa was first released in 2014, she was the most exciting new technology. Many probably never anticipated how popular Alexa would become, dismissing the voice assistant as a fad likely to fade into obscurity. It was a pain to find compatible devices and functions for a while — until the world began catching up.
Now, Alexa is so prevalent that practically every new device released into the market proudly is voice assistant compatible. It is no surprise that Alexa is finding her way into many homes and offices. And with the best Alexa skills, it becomes possible to truly make Alexa your personal assistant.
So, what can Alexa do for productivity? If you’re thinking of upgrading your home or office with a voice assistant or if you already have Alexa, keep reading to learn all about how you can make the best use of her.
Buy an Alexa-Enabled Device
If you don’t have an Alexa-enabled device yet and you’re still shopping around for the right one for you, consider our recommendations below:
Echo Dot 4th Generation
The 4th-Generation Echo Dot is a significant improvement over its previous iterations. In its current state, the Echo Dot gives improved responses from Alexa through a speaker with overall enhanced sound quality. Not to mention the Echo Dot 4th Generation looks and feels premium despite its generally affordable price.
As one of the most affordable offerings on the Alexa and Echo device page, the Echo Dot 4th Generation is an excellent option for those looking to dip their toes into the world of smart voice assistants. It’s also a fantastic choice for people who are putting a smart speaker in various areas of their home while having an Echo Show as their main hub.
The Echo Dot comes in Charcoal, Glacier White, and Twilight Blue. You can purchase the speaker on its own or with a battery base, a wall mount, or a Mandalorian The Child stand. The Echo Dot 4th Gen also has a version for kids and one with a clock display.
If you like the form factor and design of the Echo Dot but crave better sound quality, you can choose the Echo 4th Generation. It features the same design, albeit slightly larger. It also has improved audio quality compared to the Echo Dot 4th Generation.
Echo Show 8 2nd Generation
The Echo Show 8, now on its second generation, is an excellent choice if you want an Alexa-enabled device with a display. This particular model comes in two colors: Charcoal and Glacier White. You can purchase it on its own or in a bundle with a battery base, a Blink Mini (camera), or an adjustable stand.
Related: How to Make a Second Amazon Baby Registry
Amazon’s Echo Show 8 comes with an eight-inch high-definition touchscreen, stereo speakers, and adaptive color. It’s an excellent voice assistant that can show you results and responses visually beyond simply reciting them back to you. It also has a 13 Megapixel front camera that always keeps you centered for video calls. And when you’re not using your camera, you can ensure your privacy with the built-in lens shutter.
The Echo Show 8 is an excellent “main hub” smart device that can show you your calendars, recipes, lists, and more. You can also use this device to stream entertainment from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, and more. Another thing you might want to use your Echo Show 8 for is as a digital photo frame that can display a slideshow of your favorite pictures.
If you want a screen but feel that the Echo Show 8 is too large or expensive for your tastes, you can consider the Echo Show 5, which offers the exact same things in a smaller package. Of course, the Echo Show 8 will have a few advantages simply based on its size, but the 5 is a great device all in its own right.
Bonus: Echo Buds 2nd Generation
If you want access to your voice assistant on the go, the Echo Buds 2nd Generation are a great way to get it. The Echo Buds, available in black and Glacier White, are TWS earbuds that give some of the most popular earbuds a run for their money. With these earbuds, you can keep your phone in your pocket as you give your commands to Alexa via the earbuds themselves. Additionally, you get ANC (active noise cancellation) to limit the background noise around you.
Best Alexa Skills List for Productivity
For Planning and Scheduling
- Scheduling (or rescheduling) meetings
- “Alexa, what’s on my calendar today?”
For Improving Focus
- Play music
- Pomodoro timer
- Play ambient noise
- TED Talks
For Mental and Physical Health
- Quick exercise sessions
- Guided meditation
For Convenience and Saving Time
- Control lights
- Start and warm up vehicle
- Clean up
Other Alexa Skills to Download
- Audible Clock
- Milestone Time
- Phocus Space: Your Productivity Timer
- Monday Manager
- Stand Up Reminder
- Rain Sounds by Sleep Jar
- The Daily Question
- Trivia Battle
Why Use Alexa?
There are quite a few reasons why Alexa can be a helpful addition to your life. Amazon’s Alexa syncs with so many devices and services nowadays — a far cry from how slim the pickings were back in the early days of the technology. Because of the massive demand for compatibility and availability, now is a great time to start adopting voice assistant technology.
Alexa can provide you with information and answer your burning questions by searching the internet for relevant answers. She can also deliver news, weather updates, and sports scores. If you feel like hearing your favorite playlist, Alexa can play music, too. On some devices, she can stream videos or even host video calls.
The voice assistant’s benefits don’t end there. Alexa works well for connecting and integrating your home or workplace by acting as an intercom, sending out system-wide reminders, delivering messages from one Echo device to another, and more.
When used in your smart home, Alexa can:
- Control compatible smart devices by turning them on or off and adjusting their settings.
- Trigger grouped skills called routines, such as waking you up gently, getting you ready for sleep, or even getting you hyped for work.
- Act as your personal assistant.
Related Reading: How to Change Alexa’s Voice
What Is an Alexa Skill?
Technically, all the things Alexa can do are skills. Skills are capabilities you can add to Alexa that allow you to use her for many functions.
Right out of the box, Alexa knows the basics like reporting the news and the weather, setting alarms, and creating reminders.
However, if you want to use other skills, you may have to “teach” them to Alexa. You can do this by integrating third-party apps and skills. Apps can cover just about anything you can think of, including but not limited to functions related to:
- Online shopping
Here’s an analogy: skills are the same thing to Alexa as installed apps are to your smartphone. What all can Alexa do? Well, it seems that there are also best Alexa apps for everything, so at the moment, it seems as though her capabilities are limitless.
How Can Alexa Help Improve Productivity?
Many skills and routines streamline your day. They help with chores, exercise, work, and saving time. With the right skills, Alexa can help you make plans and remember them, too.
The Alexa top skills list we’ve put together below contains some of the most useful things to ask Alexa — especially if you want to improve your productivity at home, school, or work.
Looking to save time at home? These robot vacuums automate the cleaning for you.
How to Choose the Best Alexa Skills for You
It can be challenging to give an actual guide for choosing the right skills for you, considering everyone’s experience of Alexa is different. The best skills are subjective to you and your experience.
That said, everyone benefits from some of the most commonly used Alexa skills, such as music, weather, time, traffic, and so on.
But if you would like to further personalize your Alexa experience, the best way to do so is to think of some of the best ways that Alexa can entertain or help you. By doing this, you can truly make Alexa your personal assistant.
Another thing you can consider is using skills that allow you to integrate or control your smart devices. If you have smart lights, alarms, cameras, and more, the list of the best skills for you should include ways to allow you to control and monitor all of these devices hands-free.
You can also consider enabling some emergency skills such as Alexa Guard, which will notify you if something alarming like a fire alarm, shattering glass, or other unusual noise gets picked up by Alexa.
Best Alexa Commands for Productivity in 2022
For Planning and Scheduling
Poorly planned meetings, activities, and tasks can impede your productivity. Likewise, if you’ve forgotten what you’ve planned and scheduled, you might fall behind.
The Alexa skills, in the forms of questions, below can help you plan things and remind you when a scheduled date is approaching:
1) “Alexa, What’s the Weather Like Today?”
Alexa has built-in weather forecast support, so you don’t need to use any other app to know how cold it is outside. However, if you want the most accurate information possible, you can enable the Big Sky skill since it provides hyper-local weather forecast information, up to the minute.
2) “Alexa, Remind Me…”
One of Alexa’s most basic functions lets you ask her to remind you about something on a specific date and time. Setting a reminder through Alexa is one of the easiest ways to ensure you don’t miss something incredibly important.
3) “Alexa, Set an Alarm For…”
Alexa’s great at setting alarms. You can ask Alexa to set one to wake you up or remind you when it’s almost time to start working. You can set an alarm yourself on your phone, but Alexa makes things more convenient.
4) Schedule Meetings (and Move Them)
If you have access to your contacts’ calendars, you can ask Alexa to schedule meetings with them. After considering both parties ‘ schedules, the voice assistant will give you a few suggestions for meeting times. This might be one of the best Echo Show skills you can ask Alexa to do.
Alternatively, if something comes up that makes you unable to attend a meeting, you can ask Amazon’s voice assistant to move your appointment to a more suitable time.
Alexa supports various calendars, including:
- G Suite
- Microsoft Office 365
- Microsoft Outlook
She also supports Microsoft Exchange, but only if you have Alexa for Business.
5) “Alexa, What’s On My Calendar Today?”
The above question is one of the best things to ask Alexa when you’re ready to face your day. Alexa can give you everything on your agenda on any given day so you can plan accordingly. This simple feature greatly improves your productivity by allowing you to set your priorities for the day.
If you use Todoist to manage your tasks, projects, and lists, you’ll happy to know that the service integrates with Alexa. Alexa can add to or manage your tasks and shopping list, ensuring that you won’t forget one thing.
Unfortunately, Todoist’s integration with Alexa is pretty basic at the moment. Because of this, you currently can’t sync any of your custom lists. Right now, Alexa can only handle two default Todoist lists: Alexa To-Do List and Alexa Shopping List.
If you want to learn more about using Alexa with Todoist, you can see Todoist’s guide here.
Related: Best Time Management Apps in 2022
There’s no denying that focus plays a huge part in productivity. If you’re unable to stay focused on the task at hand, you may waste valuable time entertaining distractions. The ability to stay focused can also help improve the quality of your work since you’ll be able to put all your effort into your current task.
Thankfully, Alexa has a few tricks up her sleeve to help you improve your concentration.
1) Alexa Can Play Your Favorite Focus Music
Alexa works with Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Sirius XM, Tidal, Deezer, Pandora, and other music apps so she can play your favorite work playlists to help you focus.
Alexa plays the audio through your Echo device. However, if you want better audio quality, you can connect your Echo device to an external speaker. Connecting an external speaker is easy — you can use a 3.5mm aux cable or connect via Bluetooth.
2) “Alexa, Set a Timer For…”
If you’ve ever heard of the Pomodoro technique, you know how helpful it is for staying on track with a task. Alexa works well as a Pomodoro timer — just ask her to set a timer for the amount of time you intend to work. Take a break once the timer finishes, then do it all over again!
3) Ask Alexa to Play Ambient Noise
Ambient, white noise is fantastic when you’re trying to get some sleep. However, it also has benefits for productivity.
You can use a third-party ambient noise skill to ask Alexa to play ambient noises in the background while you work.
For Physical and Mental Health
Your productivity takes a hit when your health is down. Taking care of your physical and mental health can keep you in good shape and ready to work, so it’s important to ensure you watch out for yourself. With a few skills, Alexa can help you take care of yourself, too.
1) Alexa Can Guide You Through Some Quick Exercises
Exercise releases endorphins that can improve your mood and morale. It also helps keep you healthy physically. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time to fit a full workout into their day. Thankfully, Alexa has a solution.
Alexa has a few skills that can help you get through a quick workout so you can break up a long day of sitting at your desk.
You can ask Alexa to guide you through a quick seven-minute workout routine designed to help improve your energy and metabolism. She can also guide you through a five-minute plank session (with plenty of breaks!).
2) Alexa Can Help You Meditate
Alexa can help you with a bit of guided meditation to ground and recenter yourself. You might enjoy this feature when you’re under a lot of stress or trying to take a break to reassess your goals and tasks.
Amazon’s voice assistant also has quick, one-minute mindfulness sessions to help you breathe when you feel overwhelmed.
The pursuit of knowledge never ends. It may come as a surprise, but Alexa also has skills to help you learn!
TED Talks are an amazing way to learn new things — you can watch or listen to a random talk, or choose something on a specific topic. With Alexa integration, it’s become even easier to get your daily TED Talk.
If you already have an Echo device or you’re an existing Alexa user, setting it up is as simple as telling Alexa to enable the TED talks skill. Once you’re all good to go, you can make requests like the ones below.
- “Alexa, open TED Talks.”
- “Alexa, play a funny TED Talk.”
- “Alexa, ask TED Talks to play the latest talk.”
For Saving Time and Convenience
One of the best things Alexa can do for you is save you a lot of time. Through automation, you can take control of your home or office and save yourself valuable time that you can use for work or other productive activities.
Alexa has tons of skills to help you save time.
- You can put together Routines that automate various aspects of your day-to-day life.
- With compatible lighting devices and fixtures, you can ask Alexa to control your lights. She can turn them on or off, dim them, or change their color. If you have a three-tone bulb, you can switch between warm, daylight, and cool tones depending on what you intend to do. Warm tones may help you relax, while daylight and cool tones might help with improving productivity.
- Alexa can start and pre-heat your car before you walk out your front door, as long as your vehicle is compatible. No more waiting for your car to get warm on cold winter days.
- If you have a compatible robot vacuum cleaner, you can ask Alexa to clean your home or office. You can also set up scheduled cleaning times so your robot vacuum won’t disrupt you while you’re trying to get something done.
There are many more things that Alexa can do for your convenience — she can control your thermostat and get your kitchen ready for cooking time, for example. If you can think of something the voice assistant can help you with, there’s likely a way to make it work.
What Can You Do With Routines?
Creating an Alexa routine is an easy way to bundle together tasks and skills. You can then automate these tasks, triggering them all at once with a single voice command or event.
A routine is a list of tasks and actions that Alexa will perform at once or consecutively once triggered. You can choose which trigger to use when you’re creating your routine. There are six possible triggers — let’s look at them and what they do.
- Choose a voice command to make Alexa perform a routine. For example, saying, “Alexa, good night!” will run your nighttime routine.
- You can assign a scheduled time for your routine. For example, your lights and coffee machine can turn on to help wake you up at a specific time.
- A location-based trigger can start your routine when you arrive at a location, like when you walk into your office.
- An alarm trigger can initiate your routine off when your alarm goes off.
- A device, such as a smart lock, motion sensor, or temperature sensor can trigger routines when certain conditions are met.
- You can also set Echo buttons on your Alexa device as triggers.
Here are some more things you can do using Alexa’s routines:
- Wake you up in the morning and get your coffee ready
- Help you wind down for a good sleep at night
- Set the mood and walk you through meditation
- Turn on your workstation and prepare you to work
- Get you up to speed on your day’s agenda
- Set up your workstation for ultimate focus and productivity
You can create your own routines, so your only limit is your imagination. You can look at your day-to-day activities and see where you can save some time and energy. When things are automated, you might just be able to improve your productivity even further.
Other Alexa Skills to Download
Beyond the skills we have outlined above, there are many other great options available for you to download from the skills shop or in the Alexa app itself. Downloading a skill is as easy as logging into your Alexa-connected Amazon account, navigating to your selected skill, and clicking or tapping on “Enable.” Note that some skills are available for free, while others may operate on a “Freemium” basis, where you need to make a one-time payment or agree to subscribe in order to unlock additional features.
We’ve found a few really cool skills that can come in handy below:
- Spotify – Alexa’s Spotify skill is easy to enable from the Alexa app or the skills shop. It can be pretty handy for playing your favorite songs, albums, playlists, and podcasts. However, it’s not the best-rated Alexa skill out there, as many users do complain of some issues that could do with improvement.
- Audible Clock – The Audible Clock Alexa skill by Thomptronics essentially turns your Alexa-enabled device into various types of audible clocks, such as cuckoo clocks, grandfather clocks, talking clocks, and more. It can be a great way to track time, especially with the variety of premium clocks available for you to purchase so you can customize your clock as you please. Thomptronics states that some users dedicate an Alexa or Echo device entirely to the audible clock, a choice you can make if you please.
- Milestone Time – This Alexa skill by Hespect Softwares offers you the ability to easily track your time using voice commands (in combination with its full-featured web portal). With Milestone Time, you can record the time you’ve spent on tasks and projects using your voice. Milestone Time has recently announced that it can now integrate with Clio.com.
- Zoom – The Zoom Alexa skill was created and published by Amazon itself. However, this skill will not make it possible for you to make and take Zoom meetings or other chat service calls from your Echo devices. Rather, this skill is meant to be used on your mobile phone, allowing you to start or join meetings and check your upcoming meetings using voice commands.
- Phocus Space: Your Productivity Timer – We have established that one of the things you can do with Alexa is to use her as a Pomodoro timer. Although you can do that with just Alexa herself (and no need for Alexa productivity skills), Phocus Space makes it easier to do all of that and more. Choose between 25-minute work – 5-minute break sessions and 50-minute work – 10-minute break sessions. This skill allows you to pause or start your timer over at your convenience.
- Monday Manager – If you use Monday.com, this unofficial Monday Manager skill is another one on the list of cool things Alexa can do. It allows you to sign in to your Monday.com account and take your skills with you wherever you go, provided you have an Alexa-enabled device handy. The only issue that users seem to be having with this particular skill is that it can be difficult to sign in to their Monday accounts. If not for this issue, we’d easily name this a top Alexa skill.
- Stand Up Reminder – This Alexa skill does what it says on the tin — it reminds you to stand up every so often for your own health. Stand Up Reminder works in fifty-minute sessions where you work for forty-five minutes, and then Alexa will remind you to stand up and take a five-minute break. You can tell Alexa how many rounds of work you’d like to do for your session, during which you’ll keep getting reminded.
- Rain Sounds by Sleep Jar – If you enjoy using background noise to help lull you to sleep or get you into a focused mood, Rain Sounds by Sleep Jar is one of the best uses for Alexa. This Alexa skill can help you relax, sleep, meditate, relieve anxiety and stress, or even just block out other unwanted ambient noise. You can use this skill for free, but there is a Pro membership that gives you more features.
- The Daily Question – The Daily Question is easily at the top of the list of fun things to do with Alexa. Once you download or enable this skill, Alexa will ask you a question every day. Get the question right, and you can win 10,000 in fantasy money! After playing three days in a row, you get the choice to play the Mega-Bonus question. If you get it right, you get between 100,000 and 1,000,000 but get it wrong, and you lose half your money. It’s a fun and exciting way to incorporate a bit of trivia into your daily life!
- Trivia Battle – Trivia Battle is another great way to get some trivia in every so often. This Alexa skill is another daily game where you can battle to get your state right to the top of the leaderboards. Trivia Battle offers thousands of fun questions on a variety of subjects.
How We Tested the Best Alexa Skills
To put together this list of the best Alexa skills, we did a lot of testing with our Alexa-enabled devices. We tried a great majority of the skills in this article, while some came highly recommended by other users or stellar reviews.
We made sure to consider what sort of skills might come in handy depending on where you’ve chosen to put your Alexa device by thinking of what sorts of requests you may make while in that space. We also looked into what sort of tools might be able to help you during your workday and whenever you are home.
We also made sure to include a variety of Alexa skills that can help you improve your productivity in different aspects of your life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Alexa Skills Free to Use?
To put it simply, yes and no.
Basic skills like asking Alexa to set you an alarm or create a reminder are completely free to use.
But, some skills may require a subscription. For example, if you want to use Spotify with Alexa, you need a Spotify subscription to access all of its features. There is a free version, but the caveat is you’ll have limited functionality, and you’ll also have to deal with ads.
Many apps and skills like Spotify provide you with a limited free version but require you to pay for all the possible features.
How Many Alexa Skills Are There?
Because Amazon made the Alexa Skills Kit openly available, anyone can create an Alexa skill as long as they know what they’re doing. According to Toms Guide, there are now more than 100,000 skills — not even counting the best new Alexa skills added each day.
What Echo Is the Best?
The answer to this question depends entirely on your preferences and needs. There are a few things to consider:
- Do you want a display?
- Would you rather have a smaller device?
- Are you using your device at home or the office?
- How much are you willing to pay?
If you want an Echo with a display, the Echo Show is for you. You can choose between the 5, 10, or 15-inch versions. The Echo Show 15 is a recent 2022 release.
The Echo Dot 3rd Gen (2018 release, but still a great choice!) might suit you if you want a device with a small footprint. Alternatively, you can go for the newer Echo Dot 4th Gen if you want better sound quality and updated Alexa features.
Is Alexa Always Listening?
If you ask Alexa this very question, she will tell you that she is designed to respect your privacy. Because of this, Alexa only records audio once you say a wake word (“Alexa” or “Echo”) or press the action button on your Echo device.
What is Alexa’s most popular skill?
It’s next to impossible to tell which are top Alexa skills, considering there are no real metrics available. However, some of the most commonly used commands for Alexa are often asking for the time, date, or weather. You can also consider some of Alexa’s most reviewed skills, including Spotify, Rain Sounds by SleepJar, The Daily Question, and more.
Can Alexa have a man’s voice?
In 2021, Amazon finally released a male voice for its popular Alexa voice assistant. You can change the assistant’s voice on your Echo or Echo Show device or via the Alexa app on iOS and Android. It’s worth noting that Amazon has also released some celebrity voices, such as Samuel L. Jackson, Jarvis (of Marvel Universe fame), and even Shaquille O’Neal.
Can I rename Alexa?
Yes you can. You can change Alexa’s wake word (the word the voice assistant listens for and responds to) in your Amazon Alexa app on your iOS or Android phone. However, default settings only allow you to use five words at the moment: Alexa, Amazon, Computer, Echo, and Ziggy. You must change this setting for every Alexa-enabled device you want to respond to your new chosen wake word.
Alexa isn’t perfect by any means, but despite her imperfections, one thing’s for sure: Alexa has come a long way from the days of her release.
Nowadays, it’s easy to get started with Alexa. Automating things has become more affordable, and you can slowly upgrade over time. As you get used to the best Alexa skills, you may just find yourself saving time and improving your productivity. Don’t forget to ask your voice assistant itself for the best Alexa tips and tricks!
Interested in finding more ways to be productive? Check out our list of the best Chrome extensions for productivity and our list of the best productivity books of the year.
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Chriselle has been a passionate writer for over 10 years, working with many publications worldwide. She currently writes for Productivity Spot, The Grad Cafe, and Hackr.io, among others.