Are we underestimating Google+? It certainly seems so because the people around me are still in the Facebook haze. We do so at our peril because feature for feature, I firmly believe that Google+ is a foot ahead of Facebook. Lately, I have been re-discovering the social network which is gradually becoming the center of operations for Google.
If you are starting out, how about some quick Google+ tips…or maybe you can download Get Into Google+: A Guide for Everyone, our free, in-depth guide to Google+. You just might find the present look to be totally different because Google+ got a bit of nip and tuck with a slew of new features. Facebook has become a chaotic mess for me personally. The relative freshness of Google+ and how closely I can tie it in with Google Search and Gmail is making me turn to it for some productivity perks.
Going Full Circles with Google+
Google+ Hangouts may be the standout feature here, but the organizational backbone lies with Google+ Circles. The Circles have got a bit of color now, but the tips Tina put forth in her post on 7 Must-Know Tips About Managing Your Google+ Circles still hold true. Google+ Circles are just that – a circle of friends organized around the way you want to share with them. Think of them as special and specific “drop zones” for stuff. The great thing about Circles is that you can use them in a variety of flexible ways. Another post from Tina showed you some all-purpose uses of Google+ Circles. But the common thread is that you are sharing your activities with groups of people. What if you want to keep the Circles to yourself and use it for your personal productivity?
The ideas for using Google+ Circles for personal productivity aren’t new by any means. Many people have dropped tips as to how they use Circles in offbeat ways. Thanks to them, I am amalgamating some of the tips here.
Using Google+ Circle for Bookmarking Links
Thanks to a commentator (Dave) on the last linked post. An empty Google+ Circle can be used to bookmark and archive read worthy links and web pages you might come across.
1. Create an empty article and give it a descriptive name.
2. Click on the Share button and select your specially created empty Circle. The favorite link or webpage is shared privately with this circle.
3. To retrieve and read your bookmarked pages, go to the Home tab and select the circle. The stream of “shared” posts is displayed.
You can create specific empty circles for specific saving needs. For instance, I have created one for all eye-catching photographs I find on the web and in my Google+ stream. It serves as a nice and easy stepping stone for learning photography through the works of others.
Creating a Private Diary for Personal Thoughts
An empty Circle can be used similarly to jot down notes and keep a personal journal of one’s thoughts (You can also use it as a scratchpad, as an exercise log, a recipe book etc.). What’s better is that you can attach photos, videos, and links to enrich your personal diary. Your entries are timestamped and unlike other journal services, you can be sure Google+ is going to last a lot longer. The new Google+ Pinterest styled card layout also makes for attractive reading. Remember: you can use simple markup to format your posts.
One of the other advantages is that I can enter my thoughts while I am on the go from my mobile device. You can even add photos, an emoticon for your mood and check-in data to specify location. When it comes to photos, you can later selectively share them with other Circles. Also, as Arun Shroff explains, you can even use it to store voice memos.
Yes, before you say it, let me put it out in front that you obviously cannot read your personal diary when offline. So, that’s one of the drawbacks.
Using Circles for Collaborative Projects
An empty Circle is fine to keep your thoughts private. But what’s more interesting is if you can share it with a few others and create a collaborative Circle. Small project teams can use Circles for collaborative interactions. Combining Circles with Google+ Hangouts helps with live interactions. As Google+ is open to everyone with an email ID, you can literally turn a Circle into an instant brainstorming session and enhance group productivity.
Using Google+ Circles as a Blogging Platform
Twitter is just 140 characters. The words fall short when you want to say more. Google+ Circles allow you to segment your audience and address them directly. You can extend your shareable posts to blog like entries and share it with your special Circles. Travel blogging seems like a good idea with Google+ Circles. Sharing original content could help to build up relationships and an audience for your main blog. I follow motivational author Steve Pavlina (among others) and quite often his Google updates are well chalked out, rather than a one line missive.
Save Google+ Content Automatically Into Evernote
If you use Evernote as your primary note taking tool, then rest assured all valuable links can be automatically saved into Evernote. The steps are:
1. Go to Evernote – Tools – Account Info. Copy your Evernote email ID.
2. In Google+, create an empty Circle. Give it a descriptive name (e.g. Evernote Notes) which you can remember while sharing from Google+.
3. Click “Add a new person” and paste your unique Evernote email address into the text field.
A new Circle is created with “one” person represented by the Evernote email ID.
Google+ Circles can be creatively stretched. From creating your own YouTube video playlists to storing photos for recalling something you want to buy, there can be multifarious uses. Remember a Circle can be thought of as an empty container. With imagination, you can fill it any way you want. What creative uses of Google+ Circles can you think of? Fire away in the comments.