Amazon Echo Show on kitchen counter with tomatoes

Four Most Useful Alexa Skills

I have an Amazon Echo in my bedroom and an Echo Show in my kitchen. I use both daily. They have more than paid for themselves in helping me get hands-free information or assistance quickly.

Echo is far from perfect but she beats Siri to a pulp and Echo will only get better with time. Also, yes – Amazon is spying on us. So are Facebook and Google. You can accept it and reap the benefits of the products while taking privacy precautions, or live in the woods (nothing wrong with the latter). But if you think not owning an Echo will make you safer from tech companies watching you, you’re kidding yourself. So, enjoy!

These are the four skills I use the most. If you’re on the fence about buying an Echo, these are the ones from which you could most easily and quickly benefit. (The Echo Dot is only $29.99 right now, so that’s just a no-brainer. It’s the cost of an alarm clock and does a lot more, while also saving your eyes and brain from that stressful visual of the time around 3:42AM.)
  1. Find your lost phone.

    There are a few skills for this but the cleanest, easiest to set up, and easiest trigger words to remember are from this IFTTT recipe. It’s ideal for when your phone is lost within hearing range (like in your couch).

    You say: “Alexa, trigger find my phone.”

    And your phone will ring. Bluetooth does not need to be on, as it does with the Trackr skill that Amazon advertises for finding your phone. The IFTTT recipe doesn’t require installing any additional apps. Plus, just for fun, you can have that 415 number leave any voice message you want. The default is a machine-read, “Hey, it’s your phone. You found me.”

    IFTTT Alexa trigger informationNote: Available in the U.S. only. I like the simplicity of this skill. However, if your phone is lost outside hearing range, the Trackr skill is more detailed and can tell you where it was last seen (address included). That’s nice for finding a truly lost phone.

  2. Find out what time it is.

    You say: “Alexa, time.”

    Use this anytime, especially while you’re in bed. It prevents you from having to move, which can awaken your body. Most importantly, it removes the need to open your eyes and look at your phone or a clock, which wakes up your brain due to the light. Studies have shown that seeing the time on alarm clock or phone can worsen insomnia and anxiety about getting adequate sleep.

    Your phone’s blue light actually makes your brain think it’s morning. Looking at your phone is awful for your circadian rhythm. This simple skill can help. I don’t recommend a jolting alarm wake-up either, which increases heart rate and stress, but instead use a gentle smart wake over thirty minutes with the Sleep Cycle app. I also keep my phone on Airplane mode all night to prevent EMFs from harming my brain and body during sleep.

  3. Get help falling asleep or relaxing.


    You say: “Alexa, help me fall asleep.”

    You’ll hear ambient nature sounds. It’s relaxing. Good to play when getting ready for bed. Further, if you have Spotify, I recommend this skill for yoga, meditation, stretching before bed, or general soothing sounds:

    You say: “Alexa, play meditation music from Spotify.”

    Echo Show on kitchen counter with tomatoes
    Because I can’t remember anything for myself and neither can you.
  4. Set reminders for anything.

    From leaving the house to calling someone back to packing a lunch to putting clothes in the dryer to soaking black beans – sky’s the limit.

    You say: “Alexa, remind me to ___________ at 2:15PM.”

    The reminder will be audible from your Echo and also can appear on your phone if you’ve turned on notifications. I like this feature in case I’m not home.

I’m a fan of Amazon’s voice assistant, obviously. If you’re going to buy an Echo, please click through one of my links in this post. It chips in a few dimes to pay for my web hosting and my valuable hours spent arguing with Bluehost. Thanks 🙂