I find that tools or calendars for planning one's future activities are plentiful on the internet, and may be found in endless variations some of which are sure to please one's taste. Such does not seem to be quite the case, however, when it comes to finding a user-friendly instrument suitable for keeping track, on a daily basis or otherwise, of one's thoughts, activities, travel, and anything else significant that transpired in the past; and especially when one desires it to be along the lines of a traditional diary.
About one year ago I stumbled onto Efficient Diary, and have been using it on an intermittent basis ever since. It is, I am finding, a simple and effective tool for securely storing away brief notes about things I felt to be important, and for quickly finding these notes at a later date when they turn out to needed. Also useful: just to tour through the diary or portions thereof once in a while, to refresh my memory of what it is that I was actually doing at any particular time, or how I felt, or how was the weather. The capacity to quickly recall personal info and thoughts is, I believe, of growing importance as one gets seriously older and increasingly prone to forgetfulness. How often does it happen that one wonders, "let's see now . . . when did I actually do (or think) about such-and-such a thing"; or "when did this, or that, actually take place", or, "golly, how low did the temperature really go on a particular winter month"?
Efficient Diary responds to these needs for me, and also provides a choice of easily-managed pleasing formats. The search feature allows simply entering a word that's in the diary to quickly find all the corresponding entries. It has an edit function similar to that of Microsoft Word, where I can insert various items such as tables, pictures, emotions, URLs or attachments. I can set the background color or background picture of each diary entry separately to make it more interesting and colorful. Entries can be managed by date or by hierarchical grouping. The login password is encrypted. Learning and using the diary is very fast and easy. These are some of the main features; note that some of these are in the Pro version only. The distinctions between the two are specified in the description at the product's website.
Although a sense of personal discipline would call for a person to make regular entries every day, this is not a strict requirement for effective use of the diary. I have discovered that one can skip as many days as one likes, or even neglect it for long periods. Information retrieval is still very easy and useful, either by using the "search" feature provided or by manually clicking through the "years" or "months" appearing in the menu. A "content brief" column gives one a picture of every entry, so one can easily zoom in on whatever it is one is searching for (provided that the item had been placed there to start with, of course!)
In time one discovers that making "more" entries is definitely preferable to making insufficient entries. Often enough, a thing that one enters may seem perfectly redundant at first blush; but, in time, one discovers with pleasure that it had been a wise thing to have recorded it. Indeed, that is what diaries are for -- the space is there, so use it!
Efficient Diary is available both as freeware and in a pro edition. The latter has extra features lacking in the freeware, as mentioned earlier. From the outset I have been quite content just to use the freeware, where I also much appreciated the absence of annoying ads or nag screens. However, now that I have become familiar with it, I am quite looking forward to giving the Pro edition a spin. In the Pro edition, one can make use of live hyperlinks and attach files, amongst other things, and these will certainly come in handy.
For anyone who requires a diary, either for professional or home purposes, be it in a desktop or in a USB-installed version, I do suggest they give Efficient Diary a try: hey, it's free! I would be most surprised if they did not like it.