What is an online journal and why you should have one?
A personal online Journal, which is sometimes referred as an eleftronic journal or ejournal is a way to document your life on the web ensuring that only you can read your notes, see your photos and the personal things you write on your journal everyday. A private online journal is the equivalent of your personal diary, where you scribe and write personal notes everyday. Everyday, means every single day of your life.
The reality is that not many people have a Journal, be it offline or online. There can be varied reasons for not writing a personal journal, some of them being – the risks involved, security, privacy, fear of embarassment, time, devotion, regularity, the drive. Most people I have spoken to don’t think writing a journal is useful in any way, some think of it as a “cool” idea but are too lazy to keep a private journal.
However, it is a good practice to write something everyday. Pour your heart on a personal diary, write about your life, write about your achievements, goals, failures – it greatly helps in removing stress, clearing up your mind and documenting important life events. Lifehack.org has a very informative article on why you should write something everyday.
Online journals can be of many types. For example, you can write a personal journal documenting all important and not to important life events or decide to write 10 lines about each day of your life. On the other hand, you can have a work journal, where you might choose to document your work or career related activities. Fitness enthusiasts, sometimes keep a fitness and health journal while sportsmen write a “sports” journal where they document their games, exercise routines and so forth. If you have a pet dog or cat, it might be a good idea to write something about your cat and dog everyday, take photos and store it in your private, password protected online journal.
Things to note before you start writing a daily online journal
Before you start, here are some things you might want to check
- Accessibility – The journal should be accessible to you everyday. No matter where you are, what you are doing, you should be able to write a few lines at the end of each day.
- Secured: The journal should be secured, you don’t want to lose it at any cost. It’s priceless to read your life events, 20 years down the line.
- Private: The journal should be completely private and noone in this earth should have access to it, except you. Your private journal should be just like your Gmail account, for example.
- Easy to use: The last thing you want is overly complex mechanism to do a simple thing – write. You want to write a few lines everyday and it should be amazingly simple and easy to use. You don’t want to carry a briefcase with 3 different numeric locks protecting your journal from theft or unauthorized access. that defeats the original purpose of keeping things simple and spontaneous.
For the aforesaid reasons, I prefer keeping an online journal rather than writing the everyday journal on a notebook or paper. A paper journal, although very simple and minimalist, is less secured, can be read by anyone if he manages to know an access method you are not aware of and is not universal. For example, you cannot use photos and videos in your paper journal.
Use Blogging Platforms to Setup a Private Online Journal and Password Protect it
If you have always wanted to setup a private online journal, here are some tools, websites and applications worth taking a look:
Tumblr – Tumblr is turning out to be the go to place for microbloggers these days. Tumblr is the easiest way to start a blog, password protect it and use it as your online journal. You do not have to worry about the software, maintainence and anything – just pick a Tumblr theme you like and start writing daily entries on your Tumblr blog.
Tumblr is a very minimalist platform without much bells andn whistles, so it is perfectly suited for non techies who have no idea how to setup a website. Once you create a Tumlr blog and use it as your daily journal, remember to protect it with a password. Once your Tumblr blog is proteted with a password, only you can read the entries and it is hidden from rest of the world.
There are two reasons why I prefer Tumblr for creating an online journal. First, Tumblr is free and easy to setup. Second, Tumblr has mobile apps for Android and iOS so I can write daily diary entries, upload photos and videos from my mobile. Tumblr’s mobile app has support for offline blogging so I can write and maintain the journal offline and post all the entries when I get access to Wi-Fi or 3G connection.
WordPress.com – I am not a very big fan of WordPress.com sites, I prefer using the self hosted WordPress CMS to power this blog and other websites I own. However, if you want to create a private journal with WordPress, WordPress.com is the best bet. It’s free, very secured, has good support for themes. Pick a minimalist theme for WordPress and start writing a completely private or password protected online journal in minutes .Unlike Tumblr, WordPress.com does not allow you to password protect the whole website, so you have to be careful with the post visibility settings, each time you post a new entry.
The advantage of WordPress.com is that you can post public and private entries in the same website; so you do not have to create a different blog altogether. One use case I can think is – create a new category named “journal” or “diary” and password protect all posts of that category. Whenever you write your daily diary posts, make the post visibility private or password protected and you are good to go.
Evernote – Use Evernote to Write a Private Online DIary
Evernote is one of the best note taking applications out there, it is certainly one of the best ways to create private notes online and store them in notebook format. If you already use Evernote for managing tasks, writing projects or maintain a daily To-Do list, why not use it to write a daily personal diary which can act as a journal?
The biggest advantage with Evernote is that your personal journal is not a website, you don’t have to maintain anything and neither you have to worry whether anyone can access it or not. Just create a new notebook, name it personal diary and start writing text, photo, audio or video notes. Pretty handy if you are a power Evernote user and already addicted to it.
Similar to Tumblr and WordPress.com, Evernote has mobile apps for Android, iOS, Windows Phone7, Blackberry and desktop apps for Windows and MAC. So that makes Evernote a full fetured app for writing personal notes and storing it in the cloud. Evernote is recommended if you want simple text notes and do not want your online journal to be a website, although private or password proteted.
OhLife.com – The Simplest way to Create a Personal Online Diary
If you do not want to use a blog or a desktop application for writing your private online journal, try Ohlife.com. Ohlife is the simplest way to setup an online jurnal and you don’t need to create a website or use any application. Once you have registered for an Ohlife account, Ohlife will send you daily email messages, reminding you to write something for that day. Now all you have to do is reply back to the email message and it will be posted in your online Ohlife journal. You can write text notes or attach photos to the email message and Ohlife takes care of posting it to your online diary, which is completely private.
One big advantage of Ohlife.com over other solutions is that it allows you to export notes and past entries as a text file. So if you have maintained the online journal for a long time and want to backup everything to your computer, Ohlife is a good choice. However, the longivity of the service remains a question.
Dayone – Journaling App for iPhone and OSX
If you’re using OSX and iPhone, give DayOne a try. DayOne is more than just a simple daily journaling app for iPhone and OSX. You can use DayOne to write private notes and password protect it, so your private diary is not accessible by anyone. DayOne seamlessly syncs your notes across MAC and iOS devices you are using, so your private journal is accessible across all your devices.
DayOne has some cool features which makes it one of its kind. You can automatically backup your journal note to Dropbox, this ensures that your personal diary is securely backed up, every time you add a new entry. DayOne comes with a calendar feature; you can also search notes by month or date. This makes it a complete full featured journal application for OSX. Other features include password protection, photo uploads, locations, quotes and photos.
DayOne is not free, you have to shell out $1.99 in order to use it.
Using Facebook As an Online Diary
I know what most of you may be thinking – how can my private notes, diary or online journal be “private” if I post it on Facebook? The last thing I want is to let my Facebook friends to know each and every detail of my life in full detail.
Facebook has a rather ignored “notes” feature which lets you write blog entries on your Facebook profile. You can use this feature to maintain an online Facebook journal and choose the privacy setting as “Only me” to keep it private from rest of the world. You have to be extremely careful with this because if by mistake you mess up the privacy setting, the whole purpose is defeated and you’re screwed.
Write Daily Journals in your Gmail Inbox
This is layman’s way of having a jounal in your Gmail inbox. You can use filters and labels wisely to maintain a private online Journal, right inside your Gmail inbox.
There are a couple of advantages of using Gmail (or Google Drive) to write a private online journal that is secured behind your Google account. First, you don’t have to worry about its privacy at all. Second, you don’t have to maintain another blog or worry about how scalable it would be going forward.
Here is how you can get started with your private online journal within Gmail:
1. Open your Gmail inbox, go to “Settings”, switch to the “Filters” tab and create a new filter.
2. In the From and to fields, enter your email address. It is important that you enter the same email address in the from and to fields, so that any email that you send to yourself goes under a custom label called Journal and is easily accessible.
How does it work?
When your Gmail filter is set, all you need to do is open your email inbox, write your journal entry for the day and send it to yourself. Gmail will archive your daily journal entries under a label, so you can read your online private diary anytime. If you want to read the entry of a particular day of the year, use Gmail search operators along with the date and label properties to find a specific journal entry.
The best part about using Gmail to create your private online diary is that you can access it from your Android and iOS device, without having to install another journal writing application, or host a blog or website for the same. No setup, universal access and completely secured.
Pros and Cons of Hosting Your Journal Online
There are many advantages of keeping an online journal, when compared to the classical notebook journal or a personal diary. An online journal is more easy to maintain, is easy to lock down and can be maintained more easily. You can write it from your computer or from your phone, with or without the internet. However, one very big disadvantage of posting personal notes online is security. Remember, there is always a hack to anything so it is a good idea to keep your journal anonymous and not reveal your name, address, phone number or your online identity.