Changing The Way I Write My Diary

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I’ve been writing a daily diary for about sixth months now, and it’s been an interesting experiment.  For want of a better location for it I published it on my blog, but made it slightly less visible than a typical blog post, the entries appeared in searches and if you looked specifically at the diary category, but were otherwise invisible; not appearing in the RSS feed or home page.

When I started writing it was simply for myself, but as the days passed I got to thinking that it was a useful way for close friends and family to keep in touch with what I was doing, especially as Debbie was working all day and the kids are progressively leaving home, so I started to write with them in mind a little more, hoping that the content would help them initiate discussions with me.  This didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped so I became disillusioned and decided to stop writing.

Pretty much immediately though the kids all rebelled and asked me to start it up again, so I took a couple of days to think things through and decided to make some pretty radical changes, all to the better.  This is what I’ve decided.

  1. I will write and store my diary entries in Evernote
  2. I will set Evernote up in such a way that I can have multiple diaries, for example a truly private one, a garden one etc.
  3. I will not make my diary available on my blog, but publish it to a private Facebook account specifically for that purpose, via email and via a private website
  4. I will write it as I go through the day, rather than all at once in the evening, mostly using my phone
  5. I will Increase the level of automation, so I basically have nothing to do except write

These changes turned out to be really interesting and quite a significant improvement in several way’s that I will detail here.

I will write and store my diary entries in Evernote

Prior to making this change I would manually copy every diary entry into an Evernote notebook.  Now I will write the diary directly in Evernote, this not only eliminates a step, but it has lots of other advantages.

  1. Evernote is available on all of my PCs and devices and it’s always in sync and available online and offline.  This means I can write my diary anywhere and at any time
  2. Evernote makes it easy to write, it has a good editor and automatically resizes photo’s to fit, reducing the effort required
  3. Evernote has great support for IFTTT (see later for what this means)
  4. Evernote is safe and it’s designed to store memories forever

More information on Evernote can be found here

I will set Evernote up in such a way that I can have multiple diaries, for example a truly private one, a garden one, etc.

One of the best things about Evernote is the idea of notebooks and stack’s of notebooks.  This means that I can have several notebooks with different types of diary entry in them, but when I look at the stack that contains them all, they all appear to be a single notebook, that is they all merge into one.  I have created have a stack called Diary Stack, that contains:

  1. All of my old diary entries, to which I will be adding new ones
  2. My weekly FitBit summary email, which is generated automatically and tells me how many steps, calories, flights of stairs, distance walked etc.
  3. My Instagram photos
  4. My blog posts (like this one)

I will be adding a private diary notebook to this list, for private thoughts and musings, I’m not expecting to write much here, but just in case I feel the need, it’s ready.

I will not make my diary available on my blog, but publish it to a private Facebook account specifically for that purpose, via email and via a private website

My diary will now be invite only and available in more convenient ways.  The IFTTT (If This Then That) service makes all of this possible, as follows:

  1. It’s available via email, IFTTT waits for me to add the tag ‘published’ to any note, and then sends an email with the content of that note to anyone who’s been invited
  2. It’s available via a private Facebook account https://www.facebook.com/steve.richards.diary where just the text (no images) of the blog posts get published by IFTTT
  3. There’s a private link to a web page that has all the diary posts, that I send to invitees, it’s created by sharing my Evernote notebook

There’s no RSS feed, but none of my family use RSS, so that’s no big loss.  For more information about IFTTT, check out this introduction

update: I’m now using Zapier instead of IFTTT, it seems to be more reliable

I will write it as I go through the day, rather than all at once in the evening, mostly on my phone

I find writing my diary at the end of the day a bit of a chore.  Now that I’m using Evernote I can tap out a few words as I go through the day, mostly on my phone and then at the end of the day, do a quick edit and add the ‘published’ tag and it’s all done.

I will increase the level of automation, so I basically have nothing to do except write

I’m lazy so I want everything that can be, automated.  Evernote and IFTTT and Memento make all that possible.

  1. I write in Evernote on any device and Evernote takes care of synchronising the content on all my devices and PCs, resizing photo’s etc.
  2. I just add the tag ‘published’ on any device and IFTTT takes care of sending the emails and publishing the text of the post to my special Facebook account
  3. Memento can subscribe to the special Facebook account, as well as Twitter and Instagram and automatically creates a lovely visual diary that aggregates all of this information together, it creates daily, monthly and yearly summaries, as well as a “this is what you did 1, 2, 3 … years ago, on this day’”, reminders
  4. Any other information in Evernote that I want to share with my family, for example blog posts, can be distributed in the same way, just by setting the ‘published’ tag
  5. Any other arbitrary information that I want to add to Memento can be added, simply by posting it to the special Facebook account.  I have my normal Facebook running in Chrome usually, so I’ve setup the special account in Microsoft’s Edge browser, so it’s only a click away.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

3 Responses

  1. Paul Schofield says:

    Sounds like a good system.

  2. It would be Paul, if the IFTTT to Evernote connection hadn’t stopped working last night!

  1. February 16, 2016

    […] Update: It turned out that the kid’s rebelled when I wrote this post and asked me to carry on writing my diary, so I changed the way I did it instead, as described in this blog post […]

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