How to make Siri do the things you need it to do (within reason)

We all know that Siri has a wide variety of commands that it can handle, but there are some things it just doesn’t do as quickly as you can do yourself simply through the touch interface on your iPhone or iPad. Admittedly, I don’t use Siri as much as I had originally thought I would, but that is largely due to the limitations initially placed on Siri in Canada (my home and native land). But there are things I’ve been using Siri more and more for, including doing some front-end set up that allows me to clear out my head and focus on more of the stuff that I can only do.

Basically, I have learned how to make Siri do things I need it to do – and I’ll let you in on what I did to make that happen so that you can do the same.

I use Siri in several ways:

  • To phone people
  • To message people
  • To add quick reminders
  • To add appointments to my calendar
  • To set alarms

What is different in my approach is that I tend to combine several of these types of commands into batches, allowing me to get Siri to do more for me. I wind up adding context to my commands this way, which is illustrated in each of my examples below.

Preparing for a special occasion

If you’ve set up any important dates in your Contacts, then here’s how you can properly set yourself up to be ready for when their special day arrives.

  1. Ask Siri when the person’s birthday is.
  2. Make note of that day.
  3. Ask Siri to create a reminder with enough lead time involved so that you can do something for them (buy gift, plan party, etc.) and have everything in order for that person’s birthday.

It is a two-step process – and it would be great if Siri understood “Remind me to plan party for X starting 1 week before X’s birthday” – but it can’t, so you’ll have to make do with what I’ve offered here. You can also do it for vital appointments and other things that you want Siri to remind you of well before the due date.

Big Questions

Siri can give a bird’s eye view of your day, which is great if you want to use it in tandem with your task manager. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Ask Siri “What does my day look like?” and Siri will lay out what you’ve got going on on the screen for you to review. You can then make a better decision on what to do with the time you’ve got, and can avoid overwhelm more so than just by going off your task manager alone.
  2. Make note of what you’ve got on the go for the day.
  3. Ask Siri to open your task manager of choice.
  4. Map out the rest of your day.
A view of the day to come

You can also use this tactic to plan your next day before you go to bed. Using Siri to forecast your schedule will help you be more efficient and effective with your schedule beyond what you’ve already got locked down.

Using Siri for The Pomodoro Technique

I’m not a fan of The Pomodoro Technique for focused productivity (I find it to be too rigid), but Siri can be used in a way to create the timer you’ll need to follow through on the method if that’s your thing:

  1. Ask Siri to create a timer for 25 minutes.
  2. Work on your task until the timer goes.
  3. Ask Siri to create a timer for 5 minutes.
  4. Take a break while that timer is running.
  5. Repeat steps 1 through 4 three more times.
  6. After the fourth “pomodoro”, ask Siri to create a 15 or 30 minute timer.
  7. Repeat the whole process again until you call it day.

Capturing Notes


I don’t really use the Notes app on iOS because Drafts is my huckleberry, but if you want to capture your thoughts quickly using Siri, you can do the following:

  1. Ask Siri to “Make a note on…X”
  2. Siri will go ahead and do just that, as you can see below.


If you’re using the native Notes app, then Siri may just be your huckleberry when it comes to quickly getting things out of your head and into your iPhone or iPad.

Quick Social Media Updates

Rather than open up your Twitter client of choice or Facebook, you can post updates right from Siri. It’s simple to do:

  1. Ask Siri to “Post a Tweet” or “Post to Facebook”
  2. When Siri asks you what to post, say what it is. Then confirm it and you’re done.
Just watch out for spelling errors, okay?

Food and Entertainment

This was something that I’d been missing out on until full Siri functionality came to Canada. Now I can ask Siri something like “Find a good family restaurant in Victoria”, and I get results that like what you see below.

Complete with ratings and contact information, this makes going out for dinner a far easier proposition. The same goes for when you want to go and check out a flick. You not only get a listing of what movies are in the area, but you also get the Rotten Tomatoes rating to go along with each of them.Siri makes it easier to eat where you want and see what you want.

Siri Unleashed

When you really dive in and explore what commands Siri can handle, you’ll find that “she” can make your iOS device even more useful – as well as make you more useful in the process. There will be growing pains, but there will be long-term gains if you give Siri a chance. The above suggested activities are a great place to start.

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