In the past I have tried quite a number of different software and hard copy version’s of diaries, and journals. In almost all cases I have not continued past day one, and if I did day 2 was about it. I have found that there is one big reason for this, they do not suit the sort of process that I like.
The software is either just a task scheduler or just a journal program, and to get it all together you end up duplicating information between two different programs and then you need to remember to update both if something changes. For me this is just to much complication. The hard copy versions are even worse, you write a journal entry with some things that may need to be done, and then have to copy them across to your to do list or diary and it is all time consuming and even more manual. As such I had pretty much given up on finding a solution that would work for me.
Then without even really looking it is possible that I have found a solution. I was browsing a forum that I visit from time to time, and come across a thread “Your Favourite Productivity Softwares” the very first piece of software mentioned was Smart Diary Suite. The description that was given by the poster made it sound good and I figure I may as well take a look.
It did not take long reading through the feature list and the comparisons for the different versions available to realise this was the software I had been looking for. It combined together many of the features that I wanted together. Software that it was possible to journal in that, I could keep a to-do list and keep track of my schedule. The best piece of all is being able to see it all together in a neat overview.
Now just because someone had recommended it and their website looked good wasn’t enough for me, I actually have to try software out before I get to excited about it. The benefit with Smart Diary Suite is that you can try any of the version’s they offer on a 30 day trial.
At this stage it is still early days for my use of the program, having only downloaded the trial a few days ago, however at this point it is looking to be a fairly interesting and most likely long term addition to the software that I use. Ultimately if I make it through the 30 day trial and stick to using it, then I am fairly sure it will stay around for much longer. There are some things that I like about using Smart Diary, while there are also some things that either confuse me or I don’t like, lets take a look.
The Diary – This is quite a nice part of the program, I mean it would have to be because it is the whole point of the program. You have quite a lot of options, in formatting text, everything is time and date stamped, you can add entries to categories. Also one feature I don’t use but will be of interest to some is that you can add audio to your entries. In addition to each individual diary entry there is a group of other things you can record each day called Life Factors. This is a good feature and a great way to keep track of something you want to track, for example I want to keep track of my daily writing habit and I can do this.
Tasks and Schedule – This is one of the things that I have been looking for quite some time. But not been able to get one that works just the way I would like. You can create a new task and once you have filled it in you can add a schedule item with the same information. The only downfall here is that updating the original task modifies the title of the item in the schedule this is the extent of it. I would like to see them linked more so that updating the notes in either updates it for both, also that the link is both directions. Still this is almost my favourite part of the program. Otherwise this seems to be almost what I have been looking for.
The Overview – Another great feature I think is the overview, here you can see a listing of all the Diary, Schedule, Tasks and Notes. Still quite empty for me, but being able to quickly browse through like this seems like a better way to see everything then flicking between screens.
While there are many good features about Smart Diary, and the functionality is fantastic there is one or two things that I would really like to see in the future. The first is some way to integrate with the Ipad or other mobile devices. I don’t always have my laptop with me and being able to write a diary page or check my task list would be a benefit when on the move. I can understand some of the challenges here, but there must be a way around these.
Any other things are fairly small usability things that are no fault of the program, just more that they are different to what I have become use to with other programs.
At this stage, everything is looking good for me using the program long term. I am sure that I will be able to find my way to work around the little usability things that are just part of learning a new program. If they are really a problem for me long term, but really do want to keep using the program, I will most likely try making a request to the developer if it is something that might be useful to all users.
All in all I would recommend at least giving the software a try and it is easy to do that with the free trial. The best way to do this is visit the Smart Diary site, and check out the features for yourself and then download the free trial.