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"Alexa, manage my mental load." 4 genius shortcuts that have completely organised my life.

Amazon Alexa
Thanks to our brand partner, Amazon Alexa

I would consider myself a fairly organised individual. I use a calendar to keep track of life’s appointments, I have a schedule that I stick to keep my kid and husband on track, and I get through a work day with all my t’s crossed and my i’s dotted.

But the one thing I’m not great at doing is asking or getting help for me.

I was gifted an Amazon Echo last year and up until very recently I used it almost exclusively to play music. I like that it makes listening to digital radio really easy and so it would often accompany me in the kitchen on a Saturday morning as we prepped for the week ahead. Recently, though, it took a dinner party for me to realise that I had not been using Alexa to her full potential.

We were sitting around the table, the food had been consumed and we were on our second or third glass of wine when there was a lull in the conversation.

Alexa had already been recruited to play some cool dinner party-style tunes in the background but it would be my husband who called her up for extra duties.

“Alexa” he asked, “Let’s play a game”.

Alexa dutifully responded and for the next hour or so, my dinner guests, who I would place in the excessively competitive category, battled it out for quiz supremacy. Humble brag, no one does ’90s pop trivia better than yours truly, especially where Hootie and the Blowfish is concerned.

That night started me on the road to exploring what else our friend Alexa can do for me.

A quick check and a few voice commands later and I had set a reminder for hubby to take the bins out on Wednesday nights. The feature is called Bin Reminder and it’s my first win for the mental load.

Next, how to help relieve one of my most-hated duties, filling the car up with petrol. I loathe having to either drive around to find the cheapest price or use apps on my phone to compare servos, and let’s face it, sometimes you can’t be stuffed doing all that and just pay the 40 cents a litre difference you only realise you’ve paid AFTER you fill up.

Maybe my new mental load mate Alexa can help. “Alexa, ask Petrol Check, what’s the price for postcode 2229?” Yep, she delivered the best price in my area with some other options in case it wasn’t in my commute route.

The next discovery came by chance. I was chatting to a colleague about the fact my kid was struggling to get back into a sleep routine after our holiday, so she suggested getting Alexa to play the Bedtime Explorers podcast to her as she’s lying in bed.

bedtime explorers
Bedtime Explorers is a favourite, and Amazon Storytime is good too. Image: Supplied.
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This is a bloody game changer because after you’ve done all the things needed to get her washed, dressed, brushed and storytimed, you can pop Alexa on, hear the soothing sounds of the equivalent of kiddy meditation and then… wait for it… do things for yourself.

Just a rookie error tip here, leave the room or you will end up snoozing right alongside them.

After scrolling through the Alexa App, I came across probably the most important discovery about how my new friend could help me in my day-to-day life: being my to-do list keeper.

I’m a wannabe list keeper in that I find paper and a pen write stuff down and then never take it with me when I’m doing the things I originally set out to achieve in said list.

So, when I was looking through the things Alexa can do for me in the app and saw lists as an option I clicked straight away.

There’s two choices: ‘shopping’ and ‘to do’ and so I decided to start with the one that creates the most arguments in my house and that’s the shopping.

My husband and I work very different schedules so when something runs out both of us will forget to write it on the list which invariably leads to one or both of us finger pointing when that thing isn’t replaced in the next grocery shop.

So here we go: “Alexa, add to my shopping list.” She says "sure" and asks what I want to add, I say "bread and milk".

"Is there anything else?" she asks, and I say "no, that's it" and sure enough, she’s added bread and milk to the list in the app which, and this is the kicker, I can share with my husband so neither of us have any excuses for not getting the washing powder or a clove of garlic ever again.

I have always been a little suss about inviting too much tech into my home routine, but after realising that I can make my life easier in a lot of small ways, I’m basically inviting Alexa over every day of the week.

Cheers to my new mental load bestie.

amazon alexa australia
Clink clink. Image: Supplied.

Hot tip: Check out this comprehensive list of Alexa skills. There's things like managing household accounts, family games and travel planning (from Uber to airlines).

Got a feature that's worked well for you? Tell us below.

Claire Murphy is the host of Mamamia's daily news podcast The Quicky.

Amazon Alexa

Alexa Skills are voice-driven Alexa capabilities that let you personalise your experience with any Alexa-enabled device

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