Dead Tools

Oh Life


Keeping a journal using email

Site shut down October 2104. I’ve written so many “first” journal entries that I’ve lost count. I have always wanted the benefits of a journal, but could never build the habit, or muster the discipline, to consistently write entries. That all changed when I discovered three years ago.

Oh Life is the tool that helped me successfully keep a journal for the first time. Thanks to it, I now have a record of my life that is richer and more meaningful than I ever expected. Oh life is where I wrote about the birth of my first son, my decision to quit a terrible job, and my excitement about starting a new, better job. It’s where I wrote about my brother’s cancer diagnosis and where I chronicled the daily milestone’s of my son’s infant and toddler years. Now I can look back on those events with a clarity that I never had before. In short, given me everything that I’d hoped for in a journal.

What makes Oh Life different is the medium. It is entirely email based. Every day, they send you an email, asking how your day went. All you do is respond to the email, and whatever you write is entered into your journal. The system is completely private so your entries are only accessible by you. As a bonus, each email contains an excerpt from a previous entry, which is a great way to get a daily glimpse into your own past.

I’ve also known a few people who used it as a shared-private journal. One family wanted a common place for kids, parents and grandparents to share day-to-day experiences and thoughts with each other. They set up an email address that automatically forwarded the daily prompts to all of them. This let them all make contributions in a format that was accessible to all family members but shielded from the public.

The basic service is free, and it offers all of the functionality I’ve ever needed. However the premium service offers some nice features. For $48 a year, you get:

-Up to 5 photo uploads per entry (vs. 1 with the free version)

-Customized email prompts


-Automatic Backups

-Trending tools, to see changes in particular terms or concepts over time.

If you want the benefits of keeping a journal, but can never seem to make it work, Oh Life might be the tool you need.

-- Scott Lyman 01/13/14

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