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Journaling for People Who Live Out of Their Inbox

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I recently discovered OhLife, a web app for journaling using an email-based reminder system. If you’re familiar with Posterous, it’s kind of like that, only instead of blogging via email whenever you feel like it, it’s designed for journaling via email once a day.

They send a “How did your day go?” reminder email each day at 8pm in your local time zone, and all you have to do is respond to it with your journal entry. It can be as short or as detailed as you like, or you can simply ignore the reminder to skip a day if nothing interesting or noteworthy happened to you. If you need to, you can use the website to edit entries that you emailed in previously. You don’t have to worry about removing existing email headers or the quoted message that typically shows up whenever you reply to something; they take care of all that automatically. I use Gmail, and I’ve never had a problem with anything beside my actual journal entry showing up.

The service is free and has very few bells and whistles, but it does what it’s designed to do very well. Your journal entries are private (unlike blogs), and you can export all of them in a simple text format whenever you want to. Since it isn’t encrypted, I wouldn’t use it for truly secret kinds of things (if you happen to have any, that is), but for most journaling, it’s probably fine. I don’t believe there is a way to share your journal with someone else using the OhLife website. You would have to export it and then import it somewhere else for sharing.. If this is a problem for you, consider one of the other journal sites like LiveJournal.

I signed up for the service on August 24th, a little over a week ago, and so far I’ve been able to create an entry for every single day. It’s actually quite fun—I usually enjoy writing, but I either don’t have time or I don’t remember to write in a journal. Since I make a point to keep my inbox empty, this is a perfect service for me. The reminders are in the most appropriate place for me to see and deal with them, and the time it takes depends only on how much I want to write. Sometimes it’s short, and sometimes it isn’t, but I never forget anymore.

Give it a shot if it sounds useful to you. I’m really enjoying it so far.

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