What Are Alexa Routines And How To Set Up The Best Ones

Krunal Shah

Aug 28, 2020 | 8 min read

alexa routines skills

Alexa skills can do a lot for you, from playing music to reading the news, with just a simple command. This ease of use and the convenience Alexa Skills offer have made Amazon Echo incredibly popular. However, human beings, by nature, always want more. As a vast user base has begun to get more and more out of Alexa, Amazon sensed that it could make the job even easier. And thus, we were introduced to Alexa Routines. What are the best Alexa routines? How to set up and use Alexa routines? This article answers these questions and more.

What are Alexa Routines?

Going one step ahead of Alexa Skills, Alexa routines allow you to get multiple tasks done with the help of a single command. You can add multiple actions and organize them in a chronological way.

For example, if you want Alexa to ring an alarm for you in the morning, play music for 15 minutes after the alarm ends and then, read out your to-do list, an Alexa routine can do this for you with just one command.

What’s more? This command doesn’t even have to be made manually by you. Once you have set up an Alexa routine, Amazon Echo can do the job for you with preset triggers. These triggers can be a voice command, a certain time of the day, or a particular location.

Continuing with the example above, if you want Alexa to carry out a series of tasks for you in the morning, you can choose a voice command or schedule as the trigger. So you can either simply say “Alexa, good morning” and Alexa will perform the entire routine. Alternatively, you can set 7 am as the schedule trigger. With this, Alexa will begin to perform the entire morning routine automatically at 7 am.

You can use one of the preset templates or you can customize Alexa routines per your needs. Some of the best Alexa routines go a long way in making your day productive. They are also pretty quick and easy to set up.

Everything you must know about Alexa Routines

Before we get to the setting up an Alexa routine part, there are a few basics I want to tell you.

First, what are the various triggers you can use to kick start an Alexa routine?

When you set up an Alexa routine, the device will ask you “when this happens.” The options you get under this menu are called the triggers for Alexa routines to begin. YOu can choose one of the following options as a cue for Alexa routines to set off:

Voice
A voice trigger can make Alexa start the routine upon hearing a word or phrase of your choice.

Schedule
You can schedule the occurrence of an Alexa routine with the help of this option. It even enables you to set different schedules for weekdays and weekends.

Device
If you have Smart Things or Echo Plus Hub, you can also use motion or other sensors from your smart devices to trigger an Alexa routine.

Alarm
You also have an option to trigger an Alexa routine based on when an alarm rings on your smartphone.

Arrive or leave/Location
Using your phone’s GPS, Alexa can trigger a routine for you as per your specifications. For example, you can set an Alexa routine to begin when you enter your home, office, or your bedroom.

Echo button
If you don’t want a preset schedule for your Alexa routine, you can simply choose to use an Echo button to start the routine whenever you want.

Secondly, what kind of things can Alexa routines do for you?

Amazon Echo comes with a lot of in-built routines that you can choose from. Moreover, it also lets you create custom routines by adding “actions” from your Alexa device. Some of the most common actions that your Alexa routines can do for you are:

Adust device settings
Whether it’s turning up the volume, toggle the do not disturb mode, or stop playing the music, you can automate it using any trigger.

Calendar
You can automate any calendar-related activity using Alexa routines. Some of the common Alexa actions you can include are reading out your to-do list, reminders for meetings or appointments, reading out your work schedule etc.

Messaging
Messaging actions are useful when you want to send automatic notifications to other Echo devices at your home/at work or Alexa apps.

News
News can be a part of your Alexa routines too. You can add actions for Alexa to read out headlines, local news, weather forecast, or any news category.

Traffic
You can also separately ask for traffic updates for the commute routes you have set up in your Alexa app.

Smart Home
Managing smart home appliances with Alexa are the most commonly used actions with Alexa routines. Turning the lights off, for example, is a preset routine customers use while going to bed.

Alexa Says
This one is my favorite! Use Alexa Says to get reminders for the things you want to do in your routine but often forget to do. I use a routine wherein Alexa says “drink water every hour.” You can also get Alexa to speak affirmations, daily quotes, or prayers for you at the scheduled time.

Can you add Skills to an Alexa routine?

Yes. You can download any Alexa Skill and then add it to an Alexa routine. However, you will only be able to open Alexa skills through an Alexa routine. We are still waiting for a new feature that would enable us to use skills as actions in routines.

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Finally, how to set up an Alexa routine?

Setting up Alexa routines are just as easy as adding new Alexa skills to your Alexa app. Here are the steps to set up an Alexa routine:

Step 1: On the home screen of your Alexa app, click the menu button, and tap on Routines. You will see the following screen. To create a routine, tap the + button.

alexa routines skills

Step 2: As you can see below, there will be two sections. I have already explained what kind of triggers and actions you can add to an Alexa routine. To begin adding actions, tap on the + button next to Add Actions.

alexa routines skills

Step 3: Select actions that you want to add in your routine. As you can see below, some actions will have subcategories too. You can also choose the order in which these actions occur using the = button (to drag each action).

alexa routines skills

Step 4: Now that you have added actions to your routine, choose when you want Alexa to perform these actions. From When This Happens section, you can assign one trigger to your routine.

alexa routines skills

Step 5: Finally, you can save your routine in your Alexa app. You can add more routines now or edit the existing ones whenever you like.

alexa routines skills

As I mentioned earlier, When This Happens allows you to choose the times when you want the routine to take place. However, if you want to disable a routine for some time, you can do so using the Disable toggle at the top of the Edit Routine screen. Just toggle it again when you want the routine to resume.

Best Alexa Routines to Try in 2020

Alexa routines are incredibly helpful in making your day more organized and productive. If you don’t want to spend time thinking about what routines you should create, don’t worry.

People have been trying out Alexa routines for a while now and there are already well-known routines that work great for almost everyone. Apart from the common morning and night routines, here are the best Alexa routines that you should definitely try in 2020:

1. Alexa routines for organizing a movie night

If you are someone who enjoys watching movies with the right atmosphere around, Alexa routines can save you a lot of time. Just create a movie night routine with actions like dimming lights, switching on the TV, starting your favorite streaming platform, raising the volume, etc. A simple trigger like “Alexa, it’s movie night” can do all this for you automatically!

2. Alexa routines for helping everyone stay on track

One of the most advantageous uses of an Alexa routine is that it can help your family members, especially kids, keep up with their schedules. For example, you can set Alexa routines for your kid’s art class. The routine could be set for the days your kid has those classes. Add actions like announcements (Sam, it’s time to get dressed for your art class), or reminders (Sam, make sure you are carrying your art book, watercolors, brushes, and a water bottle with you).

Another good example could be an Alexa routine for your yoga schedule. You can include actions like a reminder not to eat anything 2 hours before the yoga session, to play meditation music during the session (or a youtube channel that you learn yoga from), and to toggle the Do Not Disturb mode at the beginning and end of the session.

3. Alexa routines for keeping your house safe while you are away

Many people are worried someone might trespass their house while they are away. Creating recurring Alexa routines like switching on the lights, playing music, or turning on the TV at regular intervals can make it look like you are at your home.

Additionally, you can also set up motion sensors on your smart devices and set up push notifications for when these devices sense a presence in your home.

4. Alexa routines for automating tasks when you get home

How wonderful it would be if you got home from work and you just had to lie down while Alexa takes care of everything else?

A very commonly used Alexa routine is for getting things done when you come back home. As per your preferences, Alexa can switch the lights on, play your favorite music, read you the evening news, and much more. If you have smart devices like Microwave connected with Alexa, you can also get your food reheated for you automatically. Isn’t that heavenly!

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The Bottom Line

Alexa routines are a great solution for our increasingly busy lives. With a single command or a trigger, a routine does a lot of work for you automatically while you stay relaxed. If like me, your day involves a lot of multi-tasking, I’d strongly recommend you invest a couple of minutes to create custom Alexa routines. As a wise man once said, a bit of time spent on planning today saves a lot of hours every day.