Oh, Life! A Simple Tool for Chronicling Life Transitions

by Jeremy Koch

If you’re like me, you have probably started to keep a journal on at least several occasions, thinking that it would be nice to have a record of what you were doing and what you were thinking at different points in your life.  But if you’re like me, it's probably also the case that those efforts fizzled out and left you with a handful of notebooks stuck in drawers with barely 10% of the pages filled.  For some reason, it just seems hard to develop a daily routine that includes making entries in a diary or journal.
But like so many areas of our lives that are being streamlined and simplified by digital media and the web, the process of keeping of a journal to track your daily thoughts and activities has been transformed by a simple and elegant online solution called “OhLife.”

OhLife is impressive on several scores -- its simplicity, its design, and its effectiveness.   Here’s how it works…

When you go to the OhLife website you can register by simply giving your email address and establishing a password.  Then, every day thereafter, you get a message in your email inbox from OhLife that asks, “How did your day go?”

To make a journal entry, all you do is hit “Reply,” write as much or as little as you want to record about the previous day’s events or your inner-most observations on life, and hit “Send.”   OhLife automatically takes your email response and creates an entry in your journal for that day.  When you go to review your journal, your entries are nicely formatted and presented as though they were professionally typeset.  The look and feel of the online journal is simple and elegant and highly readable. If you want to add a picture to your journal entry, it is very simple to access the site and download a picture to go with that day’s entry.

An interesting feature of the daily OhLife emails that arrive in your inbox is that they include a random selection from your earlier entries at the bottom of each email, so you always have the opportunity to be reminded of what you were doing or thinking a month ago, or a week ago, or a year ago.  It’s a great involvement device, and it reinforces the desire to continue making daily entries.

So, how is it that something so simple works so well?  I think there are several reasons…

  • It's just intrusive enough -- without being obnoxious.  In a culture where so many people conduct a large percent of their daily business on line, using email is the perfect way to get someone’s attention without disrupting the flow of their workday.  
  • It’s easy to respond.  You’re already at your keyboard.  All you have to do is jot a few notes.  (Or more, if the spirit moves you.) 
  • There is positive reinforcement.  The good feeling you get from reading what you wrote in previous entries makes you feel like you're not wasting your time. 
  • It’s private.  If you tend to write things that you want to keep private, you have no fear of having your spouse or kids or other snooping eyes stumble across your most personal thoughts. (Just make sure you have a good password.)  Or if you feel you’d like your family to have access to your journal someday, you can stick a note in the file with your will that gives the details on how to access the journal if you get hit by a bus.
  • It looks terrific.  As I’ve said before, the choice of typeface and the way the pages are laid out makes your journal look like an elegant privately published book.

I have never successfully kept a journal before, but I have been making entries into OhLife for 18 months now, averaging 4-5 entries per week.  I’ve recommended the service to several of my friends and most have had a similarly positive experience. 

OhLife was founded by two web developers named Reman Child and Shawn Gupta.  There is not much about them or the company on the website, but from what I gather they created OhLife as a side project without any great ambitions for turning it into a business.  As there does not appear to be a revenue model, I can only assume it was a labor of love.  And one for which I am most grateful.

To start your own online journal, just go to OhLife.com.

by Jeremy Koch | Tuesday, November 15, 2011 | Purposeful Living

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