Voice recognition and virtual assistant tools have definitively become a part of the mainstream. If you think they’re mostly for novelty uses though, you’ll be surprised.

These gadgets and applications could help you get more done while taking care of business obligations.

Below, you can learn some of the easy and effective ways to depend on voice recognition and virtual assistant tools to boost productivity.

How Business Owners Can Use Voice Recognition and Virtual Assistant Tools To Be More Productive:

1. Type Less and Speak More With Dictation-Ready Apps

You probably don’t go more than an hour without writing a note on a typical day. Now, it’s possible to avoid using pen and paper altogether. That’s because various apps can recognize your speech and let you talk into the mic on your smartphone while software captures the input.

Not in the mood for downloading something new? If you have an Android smartphone, enable Google Assistant instead. Once it’s activated, look for the microphone key when using any app with a keyboard. Then, tap it and wait for the prompt to talk. Google Assistant even lets you write emails with your voice in the Gmail app.

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2. Let Cortana Remind You of Duties or Appointments

Like many people, you might waste time feeling overwhelmed while trying to figure out if you forgot to do something. Fortunately, if you’re a Windows user, Cortana, the platform’s voice-activated assistant, makes it easy to set reminders as soon as you think of them—so there’s no need to recall them later.

Get started by pressing the Windows key + Shift + C, or just press the microphone button in the search bar on the bottom left of your computer screen. Doing either of those things brings up Cortana.

You can then tell it to help you remember things. Using natural language, as if talking to a colleague, works great. Simply say something like, “Remind me to see my life coach at 2 p.m. on Thursday.” Then, you can rest assured you haven’t forgotten anything and can spend time tackling another task instead.

3. Use the Travel Time Alexa Skill When Planning Business Trips By Car

Before you hit the road for work reasons, consider activating the Travel Time Alexa skill to estimate the time in transit. Tell it your point of origin and destination, and the application will give information that could help you plan the rest of your day around or during the travel.

For example, if a trip will apparently take longer than expected, you could fill up the minutes or hours in the car with a few favorite podcasts that give timesaving tips or help with goal setting.

In contrast, if the journey to the destination won’t take as long as you had thought, it might be possible to move up the time of a meeting or make plans to visit with a mentor upon arrival.

4. Ask Alexa to Play White Noise on a Loop

If you work in a busy office building where it seems like you’re the only person trying to get things done due to the noise level you hear, try listening to white noise to block the distractions. White noise covers all frequencies and tends to make all other sounds in its path disappear.

You can use Alexa to play white noise for you through an Amazon product. There are many free Alexa-based sounds you can activate, including ones that are exclusively white noise. If you use the command “Alexa, loop mode on,” Alexa keeps playing the sound until you tell it to stop.

5. Customize Your Google Assistant Daily Briefing

Did you know that by setting up Google Assistant and saying “Good morning,” you could get a summary of your day? It’s true, but the default setting gives a lot of information you might not need or want.

That’s why it’s a good idea to specify the kind of information it should give you.  There are five options Google Assistant can tell you:

  • Details about your commute
  • The next meeting on your calendar
  • An assortment of news from your preferred sources
  • Your reminders
  • The weather.

First, you may need to download the Google Home app. Once it’s on your system, launch it and then tap the Menu button in the upper left corner. From there, choose More Settings. Scroll down and select the My Day option.

Then, check or uncheck the listed categories to select whether or not they appear in the briefing. Some have gear icons to the right that let you get even more specific. The information you hear at the start of the day could help you prioritize tasks. It might also encourage you to restructure a to-do list or take a different route—especially after hearing about a severe traffic jam.

6. Listen to Siri Read Your Emails

As essential as it is, your inbox can quickly become a time sink because it’s so easy to get off track while browsing through archived messages, or those you received last night. However, if you have an Apple product with Siri enabled, stay on task by getting Siri to read your emails—or any other text on the screen.

First, go to the Settings menu on your device, then choose Accessibility. From there, go to the section that says Speech. You’ll see options for Speak Selection and Speak Screen. As you might have guessed, the first one lets you hear a selection of text, while the second one reads out whatever’s on the screen. Use the toggle switches to the right of each choice to turn it on or off.

With the Speak Selection option, you’ll see a Speak button after highlighting a block of text. To activate Speak Screen, swipe down with two fingers from the top of your device’s screen. Doing that displays a panel with controls that let you start or stop the playback, as well as fast-forward or rewind it. The turtle and rabbit control the speed of the output.

These tips are good examples of how some of today’s most popular voice recognition and assistant tools aren’t all for fun. When you get to know these tips, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to get more done every day at your company.

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Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews writes about technology, automation and professional development for publications like The Week, The Muse, VentureBeat and MakeUseOf. To read more posts by Kayla, visit ProductivityBytes.com.

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