To increase productivity in the studio, I started looking at Alexa—the conversational, voice-controlled artificial intelligent assistant from Amazon.
It’s amazing. I see how it could be useful for people. There is a magic to Alexa beyond the robotic voice.
I’m using Alexa for regular stuff like grocery lists, music, and news. It’s fantastic for those. But it can do a lot more. I’ve started to use Alexa as a productivity tool in the studio. As I’ve written in the past, I usually have trouble with time management in the studio. I’m trying Alexa as another way to be more productive.
So how am I using Alexa in the studio?
I’ve used the Pomodoro Technique in the past. The problem is that I usually forget to set the timer (especially the subsequent Pomodoro sessions). With Alexa, you could just say, “Alexa, set a 25 minute timer” and that’s it. Setting a timer by voice feels much easier than getting the phone, launching a Pomodoro app or timer, and clicking start.
Alexa has a feature called Routines where it functions like a macro command. So for example, the general Pomodoro productivity technique calls for four 25-minute focus sessions with 5 minute breaks in between. I programmed this Pomodoro cycle as a complete Alexa Routine. The Alexa routine looks like this.
Again, I use my voice to initiate the routine: “Alexa, start my studio session.” It’s so easy. It’s fantastic.
I discovered one thing with Alexa Routines:
Once you start a routine, you can’t stop it.
This means that once you start the routine, you’re committed for the next 4 Pomodoro sessions or 100 minutes of productivity!
Oh, I’m sure there is a way to stop a routine after it starts, but why would you want that? This way, I end up being productive—my goal in the first place.
A routine runs in the background, so it’s not like a timer where you could ask Alexa how many more minutes before the break. One benefit of a routine running in the background is you can tell Alexa to play music or give it many other commands at the same time—without messing up the routine.
I’m using Alexa routines outside the studio as wellmy piano practice. I’ve programmed Alexa to walk me through my piano practice stages: warmup, scales, arpeggios, method, practice, sight reading, and repertoire pieces 1–3. I can focus on practicing without watching the time. Alexa simply announces when it’s time to move to the next stage.
Alexa offers great possibilities for guided work in the studio or during any timed activity. Why don’t you try it, and let me know what you think!