Google Home Routines can be annoying and tedious. Here’s how to avoid that

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You may want to wait until you’ve had your first cup of coffee before diving into the news report from a Google Home.


Dale Smith/CNET

I’m not much of a morning person — I need a routine to get going. You’d think Google Home Routines would be the ticket, but I’ve just never been able to nail down a solid morning ritual. The problem is I need a wake-up routine that’ll rouse me out of bed without being so grating that I just end up shouting “OK, Google, stop!” and pulling a pillow over my head.


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Finally, I decided to take on one of the greatest challenges I’ve ever accepted willingly as a smart home enthusiast: to craft a morning routine that I’ll actually use. 

Maybe you’re in the same boat and, like me, long for more consistency. Or maybe there’s just stuff you want your Google Home to do for you in the morning (play the news, report the weather forecast, etc.) but you haven’t quite figured out how to get it all done with just one command.

Well, I cracked the code. I sussed out which elements of a Google Home ($99 at Target) morning routine energized me — and which ones made me want to crawl back beneath the covers. Here’s how I did it.

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You can start a Routine from any compatible device, like this Nest Hub on a nightstand, but then direct other Google Home smart speakers to carry out various Actions.


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What routines can do (and can’t do)

In case you’re unfamiliar, a routine is a set of tasks Google Assistant will carry out in response to a single voice command. You can create your own routines, but there are a handful of default ones you can use and customize as well — including one you trigger by simply saying, “Hey, Google, good morning.”

To see which routines you have for your Google Home setup, open the Google Home app, tap the Routines icon. At the top of the list you should see your Household Routines, followed by Your Routines (you can tap any of them to edit or, to create a routine from scratch, tap the + sign icon in the lower right corner).

The problem with routines, however, is that, if they annoy you so much you just avoid them, you probably won’t get any benefit. That’s why it’s important to set them up right.

Uplevel your game: Take advantage of multiple speakers

The average smart speaker household has 2.6 devices, according to a 2020 survey by NPR and Edison Research. I’ve got three Google Home and Nest Mini speakers and two Nest Hubs ($90 at Crutchfield), so practically one for every room in my house (including the owner’s suite bathroom). When crafting a routine, you don’t have to limit yourself to the speaker that hears your command — you can actually direct traffic, as it were, to any or all of your other devices.

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The average smart speaker household has an average of 2.6 devices, according to a survey by NPR and Edison Research.


James Martin/CNET

This was key to creating a morning routine that worked for me. You see, there’s a conflict between what I want my morning to look like and what I’ll actually tolerate — but distributing my wants across multiple devices gives my brain the space it needs to wake up on its own terms.

For example, I want to hear the news in the morning, but in the first few minutes after waking up my brain just isn’t ready for it. Solution: Play the news on the kitchen speaker, so I can start listening just as my first cup of coffee starts to kick in. Same goes for music — I know an upbeat playlist will jazz me up in the morning, but I’m not really ready to rock out while I’m still struggling to open my eyes. Solution: Play music from the bathroom speaker to coincide with my morning shower.

Orchestrate your smart home devices

There are really only a couple of things I want to happen with my smart home devices when I first wake up: I want to turn up the thermostat and turn on my bedroom lights. Both my Google Nest Learning Thermostat and my Philips Hue lighting system are connected to my Google Home account, which makes this easy.

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Nest updated its Nest Hub smart display earlier this year.


Chris Monroe/CNET

The only confusing part is the Google Home app has two settings that could affect my smart bulbs: Adjust scenes and Adjust lights, plugs and more. I control my Philips Hue color bulbs by selecting Adjust scenes and choosing a scene I created called Golden White that turns my three bedroom lights on to a nice, warm white light set to 50% brightness. If you want that kind of granular control, you’ll have to set up a scene in your smart bulb app ahead of time.

The other option, Adjust lights, plugs and more, only gives you the choice to turn your bulbs either off, or on to their most recent state. That means if the previous night I had been chilling in my bedroom with my Blood Moon scene (two dim dark blue lights and one dim red one) that’s what would turn on — not really a great vibe for in the morning.

Here’s my actual (not annoying) Google Home morning routine

Once I realized I could distribute commands across multiple devices, I had to decide what I wanted my bedroom Nest Hub to tell me about in those first few moments of consciousness. Turns out I’m mentally competent enough to handle the weather, my calendar and reminders — and not much else.

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If you have a Google Nest Learning Thermostat, controlling it with a Google Home Routine is a breeze.


Dale Smith/CNET

Here’s what my morning Routine now looks like:

  • I say, “Hey, Google, good morning.”
  • Three Philips Hue color bulbs in my bedroom light up 50% in golden white.
  • My Nest Learning Thermostat ($285 at Amazon) changes to 70 degrees (it’s set at 68 degrees at night).
  • Google Assistant reports the weather forecast.
  • If I have any calendar appointments or reminders that day, Google Assistant lists them.
  • The local adult contemporary public radio station starts playing from my bathroom speaker.
  • The local NPR news station starts playing in the kitchen.

That’s it — it doesn’t make my mornings perfect (nothing ever will), but it does make them more tolerable and, admittedly, less annoying.