So last month I got the Google Home when it was (finally) released in Australia and have been having a lot of fun since then working out ways to make it work not just as a ‘cool’ toy but also as a business assistant of sorts.
There’s a long way to go yet, but here’s five ways I’m using the Google Home to ‘help out’ in my home based (consultancy) business.
You’ll see I’ve used < > around some phrases in this article. Where I’ve done this, it means that phrase can be replaced with your own choice of words so for example “OK Google play <Aretha Franklin>” could be replaced with “OK Google play <Billie Holliday>”.
1. Setting a timer
Set a timer for any length of time. This works very well if you’re using a productivity system like the Pomodoro system (20 mins work, 5 mins off, rinse and repeat 4 times before taking a longer break) or need a reminder to get up and do a couple of stretches, get a glass of water, pat the cats etc.
Set the first 20 mins timer by saying “OK Google” (or “Hey Google”) set a timer for <20 minutes>”. You could also say “Hey Google set a <20 minute tasks> timer”.
You can then work uninterrupted on your particular task until the timer goes off. To stop the timer once it goes off say “Hey Google stop”.
If you need to pause a timer for any reason say: “Hey Google pause timer” and then resume it with “Hey Google restart timer”.
If you want to find out how long is left on your timer, ask “OK Google, how much time is left?” to get a full run down on time left on every timer you have set. Or you can ask “OK Google, how much time is left on my <tasks>?”
2. Set an alarm
When working from home it can become very easy to get caught up in work, work, work and not necessarily incorporate a work/life balance. So I’ve started setting an alarm with Google Home to remember to do things like go for a walk:
“Hey Google set an alarm for <3pm> called <walk>.”
And before heading off always check the weather! “Hey Google, what’s the weather like?”
When the alarm goes off, stop it by saying “Hey Google, stop” or snooze the alarm for a particular length of time “Hey Google snooze for <10 minutes>.”
To check what alarms are set on Google Home ask “Hey Google, what alarms are set?” Google Home will read out not only the active alarms but also any alarms that you’ve set but have not currently turned on.
3. Need to do a quick calculation or get help with spelling?
No need to hunt out the calculator or even type the request out into Chrome. Simply ask:
“Hey Google, what’s <350 divided by 39.5>?”
“OK Google, what’s <300 feet in metres>?”
“OK Google, how do you spell <supercalifragilisticexpialidocious>?’
4. Work with your calendar
This is where I get most advantage out of the Google Home and where I imagine you will too.
For example to quickly add an event titled ‘phone Simone” for 3pm tomorrow to your calendar simply say, “Hey Google, add <phone Simone tomorrow at 3pm> to my calendar”.
Or you could say “Ok Google add <husband’s birthday dinner> to my calendar”. Google Home will ask you to specify a day and a time. By default the event will be set for 1 hour.
You can also find out what event/appointment is next on your calendar by asking “Hey Google, what’s my next event” or find out what you have planned for a particular day “Hey Google what’s planned for <Friday>”.
Only the first three events will be read out in any one day but that’s usually enough to get started!
Note – this activity only works with your main (primary) calendar so if you use multiple calendars make sure you copy items across to the primary calendar if you want Google Home to recognise them.
5. Play music whilst working
One of the things I miss about working in an office (and never thought I would!) is the background noise of people. Sitting at home can be very quiet even though the cats do their best to talk to me.
So, being able to play music whilst I’m working has become very important to me, and using the Google Home means getting much better quality sound than out of my little laptop speakers.
You can stream Australian radio stations by simply saying “Hey Google play <ABC Classic 2>” for example to start the radio station. “Hey Google stop” will stop the station playing.
If you have a Google Play or Spotify subscription then you can stream music from these services by saying “Hey Google play <Aretha Franklin>” to play all Aretha Franklin songs.
If you have uploaded music to Google Play then you can add that music to a playlist (like “Workday”) and ask Google Home to play the playlist: “Hey Google, play my <Workday> playlist”. To stop just say “Hey Google stop”.
Get the full list of Google Home commands at the Help Centre and if you have any suggestions on how you use Google Home in your home based business, then I’d love to hear them in the comments.
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