Add reading your mind to the list of things Google is now trying to do. In the last several weeks the internet giant has added a handful of slick features into its G Suite--Gmail, Docs, Drive and Calendar--which use machine intelligence to automate tasks. Here are several intuitive new tricks you can play around with if you use these platforms.

1. Explore

This is a little button you can click on to get insights, design tools and research recommendations while documents, spreadsheets and presentations are being created. In Sheets, you can ask a plain-speak question to Explore about your data and Google will automatically crunch the numbers and makes charts for you. In Docs, Explore analyzes whatever you're working on to recommend related topics to learn about and images to insert based on the content in your document. It works similarly in Slides, but generates design suggestions according to your content which you can apply with one click without having to crop, resize or reformat.

2. Action Items

This feature is helpful because when you type phrases like "Ryan to follow up on the keynote script," or "Andrea to schedule a weekly check in" on the desktop app, Docs uses natural language processing to suggest an action item to assign to the right person. You can also manually assign an action item to individuals in the Docs, Sheets, and Slides desktop and mobile apps by mentioning them in a comment and checking the new action item box. To make sure everything stays on track, the assignee gets an email notification and sees the action item highlighted when he or she opens the file.

3. Goals in Google Calendar

If a bit of accountability would help you get the right things done, you'll appreciate Goals in the mobile Calendar app which you can use to schedule things like "research this market three times a week" or "meditate four times a week in the morning." Google will find time in your calendar and help you stick to it by automatically rescheduling if you add another event that's a direct conflict with a goal. And, it gets better at scheduling the more you use it--when you defer, edit or complete your goals Calendar will choose better times in the future.

4. Formatting With Voice

Last year, Google launched voice typing in Docs, but now lets you customize content with commands for changing text color, deleting words, inserting links and comments, plus a number of other ways to do hands-free formatting.

5. Quick Access in Drive

According to Google, employees spend nearly one full day a week searching for work-related details and tracking down colleagues for answers. Quick Access in Drive shaves 50 percent off the average time it takes to get to the right file by eliminating the need to search for it. Machine intelligence predicts the files you need before you've even typed anything. These predictions are based on an understanding of your Drive activity, as well as your interaction with colleagues and your workday patterns such as recurring team meetings or regular reviews of forecasting spreadsheets.

6. Smarter Forms

Since its launch in 2009, more than one billion questions have been asked in Forms, making it easy for Google to identify common patterns. Using machine learning and neural networks, it can now predict the type of question you're asking and suggest responses based on what you type. There's also a new "File Upload" question type that lets you collect files from respondents--by upload or from Google Drive--and store them in a new folder in Drive.

Published on: Nov 7, 2016
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