Posted in personal at 7:00 am by danvk

My friend April recently introduced me to OhLife, a dead-simple daily journaling service. You get an email each day with a previous journal entry. At first it’s yesterday’s entry, then last week’s, last month’s and last year’s. You respond to the email with today’s journal entry.

The thing I really love about this is how it subtly encourages good journaling habits. It took many years of journal-writing for me to learn these two important truths:

  1. Whenever you write, you should have a reader in mind. For a journal, the reader is your future self. Future You is the only person who will ever care to read this.
  2. The only way to become a better journaler is to read your old journals. Put another way: you won’t write boring entries for months on end if you’re forced to read them!

By sending you a past journal entry with each prompt, OhLife nails both of these.

Another journaling trap is to make each entry a list of the things you did today. This will be quite dull for your future self to read. What’s more interesting is the internal stuff: what are you looking forward to? how do you feel about other people and events? You’re likely to forget how you felt in the past as new information comes in.

How could OhLife discourage thing-listing? Perhaps by including content from Timehop. If your year-ago journal entry automatically included all your Foursquare check-ins and your texts, you’d be less tempted to list them out in today’s journal entry.

If journaling is your cup of tea, I would highly recommend OhLife!


  1. Dan Erat said,

    July 1, 2012 at 7:58 am

    No privacy policy, no information about the company. Maybe I’m overly paranoid about this stuff. :-/

  2. danvk said,

    July 1, 2012 at 8:07 am

    They do say “Only you can read what you write. No friend requests, no posting your entries publicly.” Does that count as a privacy policy?

  3. patricia p said,

    July 1, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    I use memolane.com. more or less the same without journaling – past posts, checkins, photos randomly show up in email. kind of fun (sometimes) to know this day x years ago I was traveling in x country and did this & that.

  4. danvk said,

    July 4, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Shawn from OhLife sent me a link to their privacy policy: http://ohlife.com/privacy