How to Organize Your Life with an Echo Show
My favorite tools for staying organized are planners, printables, pens, and paper. It’s written all over this blog. However, when life, home, and two businesses collide, my schedule and to-dos get much more complicated. We all can use some help organizing our calendars and to-do lists, and the Amazon Echo Show 15 makes it all possible. Last week, I published a tutorial on how to install the Echo Show 15. Today, I’m diving deep into the Echo Show 15 features. Let me show you how this (virtual) personal assistant can help you manage your home, life, and business all in one place.
We have three Echo Show 8 devices at home. One in the kitchen, one in the primary bedroom, and one in our son’s bedroom. We started with Echo Dots (2018) and slowly upgraded each one to an Echo Show, which features a camera and a screen. We love that we can use them to communicate from one room to the other!
When the Amazon Echo Show 15 went on sale on Prime Day, I jumped on the offer and purchased one to mount on a wall in my office. It may seem redundant to have a screen next to my computer screen. Or to have a virtual assistant in the place where I have pen and paper at my disposal to take notes myself. But the beauty of the Echo Show 15 is that you can have an organized command center that updates and refreshes itself every day without manually taking notes, pinning papers, or filling out calendars.
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What exactly is the Echo Show 15?
Before we start, you may want to know what exactly is an Amazon Echo Show 15. I recently answered this question in my post How to install the Echo Show 15. So, let’s define what an Amazon Echo device is.
Amazon Echo is a line of Alexa-enabled devices that allow you to interact with them hands-free. These virtual assistants connect to the cloud-based voice service Amazon Alexa via the internet. Using artificial intelligence (AI), these devices can perform an infinite number of tasks just by listening to voice commands. (Source)
With that said, here’s what the Amazon Echo Show 15 is. The Amazon Echo Show is an Echo device that features a 15-inch touchscreen. So with an Echo Show 15, you interact by voice and can also manually search, input, and customize information. You can also watch movies and videos through built-in apps like Netflix, Prime Video, Fox News, ABC News, NPR, etc.
Watch the Official Amazon Echo Show 15 Video
The video below explains how the Amazon Echo Show 15 works as a family hub or command center. Basically, it replaces your good old corkboard! Remember those?
I decided to use the Echo Show 15 as a command center just for me, so I mounted it in my home office. After all, I am the one who keeps track of to-do lists and schedules at home. Eventually, our middle schooler will develop better organization skills and start using the Amazon Echo Show 15 to organize his calendar and more. But, for now, we are in a season where I am in charge. I make to-do and shopping lists, organize our calendars and manage all the tasks for our businesses, and I can see it all in one place, on my Echo Show.
Amazon Echo Show 15 Features
The Amazon Echo Show 15 has too many features to mention. So, instead of making a boring and rather techy list of all the said features, I want to tell you and show you, no pun intended, how I use my Echo Show 15 to organize my life.
I spend a lot of time in my home office, and while I work, I always think about what’s pending, what groceries we need, or hanging up the phone after setting another appointment for something! So, while I sit in this chair and stare at the computer screen, I can give the Amazon Echo Show commands and organize my calendar and to-do lists by just using my voice.
In full disclosure, I also may play Luke Bryan quite a few times a day.
Fun fact: The AI Alexa is very smart, but my thick accent is one thing ‘she’ can’t get right. We often look at the shopping list and wonder: what is that? Flavia must’ve put THAT on the list! True story.
So, enough babbling, and let’s get to my most used apps and favorite features of the Amazon Echo Show 15.
1. Link Your Calendar
Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, business owner, influencer, blogger, or all of the above, you know how challenging it is to balance it all. And although I believe balance is elusive (there’s always something in life that weighs more!), one can always try to make the best of their time. Enter a digital calendar!
I’ve been using Google Calendar since 2016. I personally love the ease of use on my desktop computer. It syncs with the Google Calendar app on my phone, and to use it on my Echo devices, I have to link it to my Alexa profile.
When you sync your calendar, every event you add to your calendar app will immediately appear on your Echo Show devices. I use the plural because any Echo Show (Echo with a screen), whether Echo Show 8, Echo Show 10, or Echo Show 15 (shown), can display your calendar.
GOOD TO KNOW: you can change the size of some widgets on your Echo Show. The calendar widget can be shown either Large (today and month) or Small (today’s and upcoming events only).
You can add your reminders and events to the calendar by voice, touch, or through the Alexa app. But, as I mentioned earlier, if you manage your calendar on your desktop or mobile app, it will sync and display on your Echo Show.
2. Create To-Do and Shopping Lists
Without a doubt, my favorite Echo Show feature is adding things to my to-do or shopping list with just voice commands. I can also manually add things to my to-do list through the Alexa app.
My to-do and shopping lists are linked to Alexa from an app called AnyList. I have been using AnyList since 2015 (if not earlier), and it is hands down my favorite app for staying organized.
AnyList is listed as an Alexa skill. Enable the skill and add it as your default Shopping and To-Do lists app so they can appear on your Echo Show. Whether you add things by voice or type them on any of the apps, your lists will always sync.
AnyList links to Alexa seamlessly. The screenshots below show how to link your AnyList lists to Alexa. Basically, you have to turn it on and select which lists you would like to add to Alexa. I mostly add things to my shopping list when I am in the kitchen, where I have an Echo Show 8.
GOOD TO KNOW: I highly recommend AnyList (not sponsored). Their Household Plan allows my husband to access the same list on his phone and cross-out items in real time. I explain in detail how practical is my grocery shopping with AnyList on my wrist (on my iWatch). You can learn more here.
4. Create Sticky Notes
I love the sticky notes you can create and display on your Echo Show. It’s a digital version of a Post-It Note! While is not much different from adding something to your to-do list, I like that you can add the widget to the Echo screen. So your note stands out.
The Sticky note widget on the Echo Show also displays the date the note was added. I think it’s a great way to remind you how long you’ve been putting off the task on the sticky!
While you can (and should!) add sticky notes to your Echo Show with a voice command, you can also type them on the Alexa app and add Emojis to make it even more fun! The screenshots below show how I typed a note for my son and chose to display it on his Echo Show 8 in his room.
Typing is a little more time-consuming, but here’s the beauty and magic of the Alexa app and the Echo Show devices. Suppose you are not home and forgot to leave a note to your husband, sitter, or children. Yes, you can always call them; but it is also fun to type a sticky note on your phone and display it on the screen (device) of your choice.
GOOD TO KNOW: Alexa has the capability to announce and drop in from one Echo device to another. Or from the Alexa app to an Echo device. So, if you don’t feel like typing a note, you can ‘drop in’ the device or announce anything from the Alexa App.
5. Setting Timers and Alarms
This simple feature is not mind-blowing since you can certainly set timers on your phone using your voice too. But setting timers on the Echo Show comes in handy for me almost daily.
On a typical workday, I try to split my -rather short- morning into blocks of time. With time blocking, I allocate hours or minutes for each task on my to-do list that day. A simple task such as checking emails can easily take you down the rabbit hole. So, it’s useful to commit yourself to spending a definite amount of time on it.
I ask Alexa to set a timer for X minutes whenever I start a new task. Once the timer goes off, I stop what I am doing (if I can postpone and retake the task later) and move on to the next thing on my agenda.
GOOD TO KNOW: The timer stays at the top center of the screen so you can glance and see how much time you have left. The race against time helps me stay focused on the task at hand!
Along the same lines, I like setting alarms on my Echo Show. Sometimes it’s easy to get carried away working on a project, especially when I am DIYing or photographing. So, setting alarms is perfect when I must stop what I am doing to leave the house for an appointment or pick up my son from school.
6. Listen to the Flash Briefing
I must admit, I wasn’t the type to watch the daily news. ‘Turning on the morning news’ is not my kind of thing. My morning commute is usually my prayer time and/or music time, so I don’t listen to the news on the radio. When I return home to start my work day, I ask Alexa to give me the flash briefing. I am adulting.
The Flash Briefing is just that, a briefing on the latest news from a few different outlets: Reuters, NPR, Fox, etc. In 5 minutes or less, you can listen and (watch if you want) the most important headlines of the morning.
Along the same lines, you can choose to watch -limited- live news from popular media channels.
7. Drop In
I mentioned before that dropping in is probably the one feature that hooked me on Echo devices. I love the ability to communicate with other people in the house without shouting! Especially in a two-story home.
I usually drop in from the kitchen to ask my son something, or to call him for dinner, time to leave for school, etc. Echo show devices are equipped with a camera, and you can choose whether to enable this.
All our cameras are enabled at our home, so we communicate face-to-face. But we can also choose to shut them off or block them.
GOOD TO KNOW: Speaking of camera and privacy. The camera on the Echo Show 15 can be easily blocked with a built-in sliding button.
8. So Many Other Skills and Suggestions
I honestly can’t sing enough praises of these devices. Some people (and they have the right to think that way) are concerned about privacy and the microphone listening to everything you say. Plausible. You should know that you can disable the microphone by pressing a button right on the frame of the Echo Show.
However, to me, the skills and the opportunity to make life easier and keep me up-to-date, and entertained, outweighs the cons. So here are other features I love about my Amazon Echo Show 15.
Learn a New Yoga Pose Each Day
Ask Alexa: ‘Alexa, what is the yoga Pose of the day?’ and it will show you a short 20-25 seconds long video (or still picture). I LOVE this feature! I am no Yogi, but I enjoy learning poses since yoga has improved my posture, enhanced my flexibility, and helps me ease lower back pain.
Alexa learns, so once you enable or use a suggestion, it will silently nudge it and pop on your screen. Or you can simply ask!
Enjoy Music or Watch Shows and Movies
The Amazon Echo Show has a large (15-inch) screen and supports 1080p video streaming, so it basically doubles as a TV. All I have to do is ask Alexa to play my favorite TV shows from Prime Video, Netflix, etc.
While I do not watch TV shows while I am in the office, you certainly can if you opt to install your Echo show 15 in the Kitchen, for example. What I do like to do often is play my favorite songs or stream the Spa channel from Sirius XM (subscription needed).
I use this Echo Show feature more in the kitchen than in my upstairs office. However, if I happen to see a yummy suggested recipe, I quickly save it or add the ingredients to my shopping list with just a tap on the screen.
Here’s how it works (which comes in handy when you’re in the kitchen!).
- Tap on the recipe, and watch a video (if available) or read it.
- If you like the recipe, save it!
- When you are ready to cook the recipe, tap ‘Start Recipe,’ and Echo will read the instructions, one step at a time. That’s a really neat feature, and I have used it quite a few times.
- If you want to buy ingredients, you can either:
- Add them to your Shopping List. Note that the ingredients will go to your shopping list, but instead of adding ‘soy sauce,’ Alexa will add ‘1/4 cup of soy sauce’. No big deal for me. OR
- Add them to your cart, and Alexa will add them from Whole Foods Market.
I personally have not had a good experience with groceries delivered, so I do not use the last option. I like to pick my own produce, especially.
Echo Show 15 Might Be What Your Family Needs!
I barely scraped the surface of all the great features of the Amazon Echo Show 15, but I hope it was insightful.
If you are on the fence, I hope this compilation of features helps you decide if it’s worth the investment. At the time of publishing this post, the Amazon Echo Show 15 is priced at $250. I highly recommend waiting for Prime Day or Black Friday offers when it’s on sale (could be 30% to 50% off). I purchased mine on Prime Day this year (October 12) for $170.
Whether you decide to mount your Amazon Echo Show in your home office or in your kitchen as a family command center, your entire household will reap the benefits of calendar organization, scheduling, to-dos, and lists all in one. And don’t forget the entertainment!