How NFC tags save me time

Smart homes are increasingly popular for many reasons, NFC tags, and they’re the best shortcut I’ve ever used to saving bits of time throughout my day, but what are they and how can they benefit us in everyday tasks?

What are NFC tags

At just a few cents a piece, NFC tags, or Near Field Communication tags, can add a ton of functionality to your home. You can buy them basically anywhere, including Amazon. They’re kind of like baby’s first smart home device, because you don’t have to have a smart home setup at all for them to work in your place.

Basically, NFC tags are little stickers, about the size of a quarter, with an itty bitty microchip on it. Mine are black, but you can get them in other colors, too. You can program any action to happen as soon as you tap your phone to the sticker.

You can turn on and off lights or change the temperature of a room, if you already have the smart home setup. And even without a smart home set up, NFC tags can help you set timers, play music, and make your life run that much smoother.

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What did I set them up to do?

  • I have one NFC tag on my desk, hidden next to a drawer, that sets an alarm for 15 minutes. Short, dedicated working time keeps me focused, and having an easy way to set that up has been wonderfully helpful.
  • One of my NFC tags sits on the edge of my bed, and I touch it at night to simultaneously turn on my Do Not Disturb and turn on an alarm.
  • There’s a separate NFC tag on my nightstand that, when tapped, automatically sends a text to my partner telling them I’m going to sleep and that I love them.
  • I have an NFC tag on my makeup mirror that sends a text to my family group chat that reads: “Any babies want to FaceTime?” I like FaceTiming with my nieces and nephews while I do my makeup, because it’s just the right amount of time they can stand being on the phone, and it’s a great way to see them. But I don’t always have a free hand to text while I’m putting makeup on. This is one of my favorite ones.
  • I keep an NFC tag on my wallet, which sends my location to my best friend. Folks also put these in their cars, and it’s an easy step to make yourself feel a bit safer.

What makes them better than just doing the tasks any other way?

This is an excellent question, and one my roommate asked consistently as I covered our apartment with stickers. I didn’t have a good answer for her then, and I don’t have a good answer for you now. It comes down to your preferences. It might only save you a couple of clicks to use an NFC, and that might not be worth it for you! But, for me, the NFC tags serve a dual purpose: not only setting an alarm, but also reminding me that an alarm needs to be set at all. I also find it helpful for when I’m trying to not fiddle on my phone, or talk out loud; NFC tags are a much more covert way to get the regular things done.

What else can you do with them?

While NFC tags do work without a smart home, having a smart home does increase the things you can do with the tags. For instance, you can:

How do you set them up on an iPhone

1. Open up the Siri Shortcuts app

This is a native Apple app, meaning everyone already has it on their phone, but might not use it as much as they should (this same app can set up low power mode and a whole bunch of other cool automations).

2. Automations

Click the automations button in the middle of the bottom menuOnce you’ve opened the Shortcuts app, click the automations button in the middle of the bottom menu. This will allow you to create a new shortcut with your NFC tags.

3. Add a new automation

Click the plus button in the top right corner. Now, you’ll have two options: create a personal automation or set up your phone. Click create a personal automation.

4. Click NFC

Scroll down a bit, and you’ll see three options in blue: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC. Click NFC.

5. Scan your tag

Click the scan button, and a popup window will appear showing you how to tap your phone onto your NFC tag. Do that.

6. Name your tag

For my alarm tag, I named it “wake up (hilary duff’s version),” but you can name it whatever feels right to you. Click “next” at the top right of the screen once you feel confident, and, don’t worry, you can change this at any time.

7. Add your automation

Click “Add Action,” and scroll down to find the correct app for your action. For me, that’s “create alarm.” Now, it asks me to fill out the time. Once you’re done with filling in your blanks, click “next” at the top right of the screen.

8. Double check your work

Now, you can take a step back and admire your work. “Ask Before Running” is an option to receive a prompt after tapping that will ask for your confirmation before running the automation. I find it annoying, so I check no. But I do check yes on “Notify When Run,” because it’s nice to know. And there you go! You’ve got an NFC tag set up.

There are tons of things you can do to save time, and plenty of ways you can automate your home. For me, NFC tags hit that sweet spot — cheap, helpful, and not invasive.

Author Profile

Mark Boardman
Mark Boardman
Mark Boardman is an established showbiz journalist and freelance copywriter whose work has been published in Business Insider, Daily Mail, Bloomberg, MTV, Buzzfeed and The New York Post amongst other press. Often spotted on the red carpet at celebrity events and film screenings, Mark is a regular guest on BBC Radio London and in-demand for his opinions for media outlets including Newsweek. His TV credits include This Morning, The One Show and T4. Email

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