In my ongoing journey of minimalism I recently started my digital hygiene process in order to become more content and present. In order to do that I started a 30 day challenge without entertainment on mobile devices like my phone and tablet.
This week I’m testing out voice assistants and their rich set of features dedicated to make you more productive. I’ve tried Google Assistant (preinstalled on my phone) and Amazon Alexa. After using them for about a week, I realized why they are so popular. They minimize the time spent on your phone at home to a bare minimum of an occasional phone call or text message. Otherwise you are freed of the necessity to look at a screen for reminders or getting distracted.
Since both assistants are rather similar when it comes to features (and they are both upgradable through automation apps like IFTTT), I will not recommend one particularly, since both do have valid reasons to choose them and when it comes to productivity, it doesn’t make a difference. Use whichever works better for you and your needs.
One of the most used features I implemented to my workflow are reminders. Instead of searching for an app icon on your phone, typing in your reminder and choosing the time to be reminded, which takes about half a minute to a minute while you take the risk of being distracted by a text message or missed call, you can just say “OK, Google/Alexa. Remind me in half an hour to study the flashcard set 2”, the assistant will confirm your request and in about ten seconds you can go on with your life, without being distracted by your tech. They even have a do-not-disturb feauture if you want to block anything but your alarms, timers and reminders.
This helps so much with getting rid of all the clutter our phones and tablets brought upon us. They are designed to make our lives easier, simpler, and more focused. Which is why they helped me with my minimalist journey this last week.
However, just because they offer us a great service, there is a lot of configuration considering your privacy. I trust Google Assistant to handle my calendar for me since I already used the Google calendar to begin with. I wouldn’t trust or use it in a more personal space or when I need to have a private conversation. You can unplug or deactivate the devices or apps. Deleting your voice recordings or even deactivating them in the first place is a (well hidden) option. And even if they are designed to assist, they can also be a distraction if you let them. As always, mindfulness is key.