Keep a Diary With OhLife

Keeping a journal has a number of benefits: it helps you keep track of events in your life, put down your thoughts and feelings and provides an opportunity to practice your writing. It also encourages introspection and helps you understand who you are, your strengths and weaknesses, and lets you learn from it all to improve yourself.

However, most people have trouble maintaining a diary over a long period of time – since a diary is designed for an audience of one, it’s pretty easy to forget about your commitment to writing. Similarly, you might have trouble finding time to actually read past entries. OhLife attempts to solve that problem by making it dead simple to write a diary and to read it as well.

Overview

OhLife is a free online personal journal that makes it easy to stick to your habit of writing entries. You can make entries on the site or by email. Your entries can be as long as short or as long as you’d like. OhLife also encourages reading past entries by including a random entry from your diary in its emails to you, which acts as motivation to pen a new entry. Also, OhLife is private – only you can read your journal.

OhLife's homepage

OhLife's homepage

Getting Started

OhLife has a short sign-up form that asks for your email address, a password and your time zone. It needs this information because OhLife is designed primarily to work via email. The app will send you an email that you can schedule to your liking:  choose to receive emails daily or on any number of days of the week and select a time of day when you’re likely to be free to write an entry. This can be turned off too, but I highly recommend the email-based system as it’s quicker and easier to access – you don’t need to visit the website and you can even use your smartphone’s email app to write.

OhLife's sign-up

OhLife's sign-up

To create an entry, just reply to the email OhLife sends you: a simple response to the question, ‘How did your day go?‘ is all it takes. The entries are all in plain text so there’s nothing new to get used to; you can focus on simply penning your thoughts. I usually write about once a week, covering anything interesting that happened to me and what I did. A typical entry would span a concert I attended, a photo shoot I wrapped up, a rendezvous with a close friend and the discovery of a new restaurant.

Writing an entry on OhLife

Writing an entry on OhLife

You can even add a picture (just one per entry, though) to your entry by simply attaching an image to your email reply. Let’s say you want to write about a movie date you went on that day. Why not scan the ticket stub and save it along with your day’s entry? Similarly, you could write about your high-school reunion and attach a group photo from the event to go with your entry. You can also use OhLife to keep track of your diet and exercise plan, and upload pictures of yourself each day to keep track of your weight loss.

Extra Features

OhLife not only lets you write entries by email; it also sends along a random past entry from your diary for you to read and be encouraged to write a new one. You can also make entries on the site or read all your entries there in chronological order. Entries can also be edited on the site and pictures can be added to past old entries here as well. OhLife also skips the scheduled email for the day if you write an entry on the site – a clever touch!

Reading an entry on OhLife

Reading an entry on OhLife

You can also export all your entries at once by clicking the Export button – this downloads a text file with all your dated entries to your computer for offline storage.

Final Thoughts

OhLife is a great idea that’s been executed beautifully. The approach to the problem of maintaining a journal is spot-on – it’s in your email, which you access every single day. Plus you don’t have to learn to use the app – you just have to write. The site itself has a clean layout and is designed for legibility and minimal distraction, which makes reading past entries a lovely experience. I’ve used other journal apps before, but this is the only one that I’ve been able to stick to. It’s surprising that such a well-built app is free!

OhLife’s ease-of-use will win you over, get you started with a journal in seconds and help you stick to it for a long time to come. If you’ve been meaning to start a diary or have had trouble maintaining one in the past, give OhLife a try.


Summary

OhLife is a free online personal journal that makes it easy to stick to your habit of making entries.

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  • I’m now on my 208th day with the service, and must say it’s been a life-changing experience. There is nothing complicated or extra unique in OhLife, but I started to take daily notes (which helped me to know myself better and practice in describing internal thoughts clearly) just because of its simplicity. And oh yea, I tend to use only beautifully executed products. Wonderful little service.

  • It looks like a fantastic service, and I really love the concept behind it. I’m much more likely to use something like this than something I have to go out to and write on.

    Thanks very much for sharing.

  • Beautiful UI, I may have to give it a try just to check out the interface.

  • Simply wonderful service. I really love the simple and easy to use concept behind the whole thing. Definitely worth a try :)

  • It’s no longer free. I guess that was inevitable.

    • I just logged in and as far as I can tell it is still free.