Alexa seems to become more and more useful every day and thanks to routines Alexa can automate a huge range of tasks, from turning on lights when you enter a room, to more advanced routines like turning down your speakers when you have a phone call.
I’ve reached out to my contacts in the community and pulled together this huge list of Alexa routine ideas to help inspire your home automation.
- How Do Alexa Routines Work?
- Alexa Routine Ideas
- Alexa Routine Tips
- How to Set Up Alexa Routines:
- Related Questions
How Do Alexa Routines Work?
Alexa routines work via a simple system of triggers and actions. You can have one trigger per routine, but unlimited actions. The actions will be taken in the order you set them.
Here are the triggers currently available*:
- Voice – Activate a routine with a specific voice command.
- Schedule – Automatically start routines at a certain time of day or when the sun rises/sets.
- Smart Home – Use smart home devices such as sensors, cameras, and thermometers to start your routines.
- Alarms – Activate a routine when you dismiss an alarm.
- Echo Button – Use a physical Echo button to start a routine.
*note: this is based on the UK which has fewer triggers than the US.
Within the Alexa app, there are 19 different actions you can choose between that will allow you to access 000’s of routine possibilities.
Here are some of the most common actions that I use:
- Alexa Says – Have Alexa say something, you can choose from pre-set phrases or create your own phrase.
- Music – Alexa can play a specific song, artist, playlist, or radio station. You can choose which service to use (i.e. Amazon Music or Spotify) and set the duration it will play for.
- Skills – Alexa can open a skill from your library
- Smart Home – With this action, Alexa can activate a smart home device. The actions will vary from device-to-device but tend to include things like turning a light on, changing the temperature, etc.
- Wait – You can add as many actions as you want in a single routine, but you don’t always want them to run one after the other, this is where the wait action comes in. You can add between 1-55 minutes between actions. If you have used Google Home routines, you’ll realise how sorely missed this feature is.
- Customized – This is a new action that you to type in any command that you would normally ask Alexa. This has opened up a whole world of possible routines, anything that Alexa can do with a voice command can now be part of a routine.
Alexa Routine Ideas
Here is my complete list of 45 routine ideas for Alexa:
Alexa Routines for Morning
Wakey Wakey – Alexa can begin waking you up by setting your lights to gradually come on before your alarm goes off. To do this, set your smart lights to come on at 5% about 10 minutes before your wake-up time, then use the ‘wait’ action to leave a gap of 2 minutes before changing them to 10%, and so on. At this point, she could also boil a smart kettle or make a coffee with a smart coffee maker.
Personal Wake Up Call – Have Alexa read you a personalised wake-up message in the morning, this could be a gentle heart-warming message like ‘Good morning sleepy head’, or something a little more pressing like “Dave, get yo A** out of bed or you’ll be late for work again”.
Let There Be Light – If you have motorised curtains, smart glass, or smart blinds, you’ll want a daily routine to let some light in. This could be at a specific time, at sunrise, or when your daily alarm is dismissed.
HINT: You can set a routine to begin at sunrise or up to 60 minutes before/after sunrise. When setting your routine, choose ‘Schedule’, then ‘Sunrise’, and use the ‘Time Offset’ slider. You can do the same for sunset.
Whilst the Cats Away… – Keep the kids on schedule, no matter where you are in the world, by creating an Alexa routine to get them up. Something like the lights on to 100% and a song you know they hate (Baby Shark is always a good choice). Maye you could even have Alexa read them a message from you.
Good Morning – Get Alexa to read you the news, start your morning playlist and alert you to any emails. Take it a bit further and have her turn on your favourite TV channel to watch in the mornings or your favourite radio station.
What’s My Day Like – Alexa can tell you what’s in your calendar, any tasks on your to-do list, and advise you on your daily commute.
School Countdown – How many times each morning do you shout ‘it’s time to leave’, followed by the same thing about 10 minutes later? Well, save your voice and have Alexa do it for you. Set her to announce when it’s 15 minutes before you need to leave and again when it’s time to go.
Leaving for Work – Get Alexa to turn off the TV, your lights and turn down your temperature when you shoot off out the door to work. This one will come in handy when you’re running later that’s for sure.
Alexa Routines for Evening
I’m home – Have Alexa switch on your outdoor lights and open your front gate. Unfortunately, location-based routines still aren’t available in the UK (come on Amazon!), but you can either used a time-based schedule or a voice command if you have an Echo Auto.
Alexa Evening Voice – Create a routine that turns down the volume on all your echo smart speakers past bedtime and another to turn them back up in the morning. This will stop you from waking up the rest of the family in the evenings. To do this, add the Echo devices to a multi-room audio group and then use the ‘Customized’ action to tell Alexa to turn down that group.
Time for Bed – A time for bed Alexa routine can be used when you’re getting ready for bed. It can turn off all the downstairs lights and smart plugs, maybe it can even lock your doors if you have smart locks or arm a smart alarm. She could turn on your bedside light and maybe start reading an audiobook if that’s your thing.
Goodnight – This is the final routine you’ll say once you’re in bed and ready to go to sleep. It will turn off all the remaining lights and stop any audiobooks or music. If you need some background noise to sleep, this routine can also trigger it. I recommend using one of the Alexa skills such as Sleep Sounds: White Noise.
Night Light – Use a motion sensor in your hallway to activate a night light when you need to pop to the toilet. Have a smart light in the hallway turn on at 20% light when the sensor detects movement after bedtime.
Alexa Routines for Home
Garden Lights – If you have smart outdoor lights (or a smart plug with your dumb outdoor lights), get Alexa to turn them on each night. As there isn’t yet the ability to have different schedules for different seasons, it’s best to use the sunset schedule.
Floodlights – If you have outdoor motion sensors, you can use routines to pair them with your outdoor smart lighting for motion-activated lights like a traditional floodlight. If you have smart cameras or a video doorbell, certain brands will allow you to use them for motion detection within Alexa, saving the need to buy dedicated sensors.
Guard Dog – Have your Echo play some dog noises when someone approaches your home. You can use outdoor motion sensors, a smart camera, or a video doorbell to activate these. There is a specific action within Alexa routines for ‘Sounds’ where you’ll find a dog bark among other animals.
You Have a Visitor – If you have a video doorbell, you’ve probably connected it to Alexa to use an Echo as a doorbell chime. However, you can go one step further and use a routine to turn down the volume on your speakers and TV when it detects someone is at the door.
Who’s at the Door? – Whilst Ring video doorbells are well integrated with Alexa to bring up the doorbell feed when it is rung, other devices don’t have this function. However, you can use a routine with a customized action to start the stream on an Echo Show when the doorbell rings.
HINT: You can use any Alexa command that you’d normally say by typing the voice command into the ‘Customized’ option within routine actions.
Keep it Down – Set a routine to silence your devices when you need to take a phone call. You can’t yet set a phone call as a trigger, at least not here in the UK, however, you could still set a single voice command to turn down your devices. As well as speakers and TVs, you could ask Alexa to pause home appliances such as a robot vacuum cleaner or connected washing machine. You’ll need a second routine to resume everything.
WFH Routine – Another similar idea that’s very relevant to 2021 is a work from home routine. This could turn down the volume on your devices as above but also set an Alexa-enabled smart bulb outside your home office to turn red so the family knows not to disturb you.
Escape in Progress – If you have kids that like to go for a wander, you can use a door sensor and an Alexa routine to let you know when they are on the move with an announcement or by changing the colour of your lights. This is ideal if you’re trying to keep them away from stairs or balconies.
Window Reminder – Using an open door or window sensor you can set an Alexa routine to let you know when something has been left open at night. You can use scheduling so that you’re only alerted when the sensor detects an open window past bedtime.
House Keeping – If you have a Roomba or other robot vacuum/mop, you can use Alexa routines to further customise the schedule so it only cleans whilst you’re out. Location-based routines would be ideal for this but currently aren’t; available in the UK. Instead, you could use a motion sensor that activates the routine when motion hasn’t been detected for some time.
Straight to the Point – Alexa still can’t handle multiple commands within one sentence. Although ‘follow-up’ mode has made this easier, you still need to say one command, wait for a response, and say the second command. Use routines to slim down frequently used commands. For example, ‘Alexa, put Netflix on’ could turn on your TV and start Netflix, rather than using two separate commands.
Fun Alexa Routines
Routine Hijack – One of my favourite things to do with Alexa is to hijack someone else’s commands for a funny response. If you’re family member always plays a specific song that gets on your nerves, using routines you can have Alexa say something witty like “I’ve had enough of that song Sarah, pick something else for a change”. You can do this with any command, however, they will need to say the exact words you have put in the routine to activate your hijack.
Sexy Time – For a cringe-worthy routine, get Alexa to turn your bedroom lights red and play some sexy music when asked. I can’t promise any sexy time will follow, in fact, it will probably reduce the likeliness if anything.
Party Time – Get the mood pumping when your friends are over, use a routine to get your Echo volume to turn up, have your favourite party playlist come on, and sync your smart lights.
Personalised Responses – Need some backup? No problem, Alexa is here for you. Create a routine so that when you ask “Alexa, who is right?”, Alexa will answer “Daddy is always right”.
Partner in Crime – Alexa is your perfect partner in crime when it comes to practical jokes. Have her say something funny at the optimum moment or, even funnier, trigger a fart noise which is always a good one. You could set a covert command that you ask her, use the ‘wait’ action to wait for 5 minutes before activating the joke.
Routines for the Family
Movie Time – If you like to make a big deal of getting together to watch a movie, why not set a fun Alexa routine to kick things off. Alexa can close your curtains or draw your blinds, dim the lights to a certain percentage. In my own routine, I have her play the ‘Pearl + Dean theme’ on Spotify which reminds me of being in a UK cinema.
Homework Time – If you have a motion sensor in your kids’ bedroom, give them a handy reminder to do their homework once they come in after school. Add to this by using a door sensor on a TV cabinet or toy cupboard with a little reminder to finish their homework first.
Cool Down – During summer, it can get pretty hot these days. If you have smart fans (or a dumb fan with a smart plug), use motion sensors to have them turn on when you walk into a specific room.
HINT: When using motion-based routines, you can set the ‘Suppress For’ time to prevent the routine from being constantly activated.
For example, if a motion sensor activates a noise, that noise will keep playing whilst you’re near that sensor. You can use ‘Suppress For’ so that it only works upon the first activation.
Parking Spot – If you have an Echo Auto, this one is a must. Using the ‘points of interest’ skill, you can set up a routine to tag your parking spot and send you an email link when you park your car. You’ll never lose your spot again.
Alexa Routines for the Kitchen
Dinner Time – When it’s time to start cooking, Alexa can turn on your smart kitchen devices and start streaming your favourite cooking playlist. If you have an Echo Show in your kitchen, she can launch a series you’re watching or bring up a cooking show. If you have a smart oven, you could have her turn this on too.
Dinners Ready – If you have a big house, Alexa can give you a hand at letting everyone know when dinner is ready. She can send a broadcast that dinner is ready to all the Echo devices in the house whilst putting on the dining room lights and some background music.
Fridge Alert – Do you need that extra encouragement to stop snacking? Use a door sensor on your fridge to give you a little bit of motivation each time you open it. Get Alexa to say something like “Are you sure you need that snack?” or “How about a piece of fruit instead?”. Alexa will say the same thing each time you open it, however, you could use scheduling to rotate through different phrases during the day.
With IFTTT, you can create virtual buttons that are triggered by IFTTT and will activate an Alexa routine. Watch this video for more information on setting this up.
Here are some examples of how this can be used:
New Video Alert – When your favourite YouTuber posts a new video, have Alexa make an announcement.
Record Stocks – Using IFTTT, you can trigger the virtual button when your stocks or shares hit a new high and you need to sell. This could trigger an announcement via your Echo device, or you could have a bit more fun and get Alexa to start playing something like Abba – Money Money Money.
Hit the Gym – When you’re ready for a workout, set a routine to put on the lights and a fan in your home gym and start your favourite gym playlist. See my full guide for some Alexa playlists for working out.
Get Pumped – When you’re ready to take it up a notch, have Alexa switch to a high-energy playlist, turn up the fan speed and switch your lighting to sync with the music.
Launch an Exercise Class – Did you know you can integrate Alexa skills as part of routines. For example, you could launch the Joe Wickks HITT workout whilst also putting on a motivational playlist and setting your other devices to do not disturb.
Seasonal Routines for Alexa
Spooky Garden – If you want to scare your friends and family at Halloween, use a hidden motion detector to set off some scary noises or make them jump. This is great in the garden if you have an outdoor Alexa speaker.
Christmas Lights – Your Christmas lights display can be even better thanks to Alexa routines. Set up a routine to turn your Christmas lights on and off each night using a smart plug. You can even use an outdoor smart speaker to play Christmas music at the same time.
Alexa Routine Tips
- Use the ‘Customized’ Action – This allows you to input any command that you would ask Alexa with your voice as part of a routine. It’s a game-changer when creating routines.
- Featured Routines – Within the routines section of the Alexa app is a new section called ‘featured Routines’ which gives some recommended routines based on the devices you have set up in Alexa. This is a great place to discover pre-made routine ideas.
- Sharing routines – Within each routine, there’s a menu that allows you to copy or share a routine. When you share it, you can simply send a link to a friend or family member so they can add it to their own Alexa routines.
How to Set Up Alexa Routines:
Setting up a routine in Alexa couldn’t be easier, here are step-by-step instructions:
- In the Alexa app, head to the ‘More’ tab.
- Choose ‘Routines’ and select the ‘+’ icon in the top left corner.
- Set a name for the routine, this makes it easy for you to find again later.
- Choose ‘When this happens’ to select the trigger.
- Once set, choose ‘Add action’ to input actions.
- Repeat the above step until you have added all the actions you wish to include. You can add an unlimited number of actions.
- You can drag and drop the actions to change the order Alexa does them.
- Select ‘Save’ to finish.
What to Do When Alexa Routines Aren’t Working?
If you’re having trouble with your routines, here are some helpful tips to resolve your problem:
- Ensure the Routine is Enabled
- Ensure That Your Device is Not Muted
- Double Check Your Spelling
- Is Your Internet Working and is Alexa Connected?
- Check the Device Settings
- Delete the Routine and Try Again
- Contact Customer Support
See my full guide on what to do when your Alexa routines aren’t working for a more in-depth troubleshooting guide.