In my talk, How to tame a hydra, I touched upon the idea of interstitial journaling.

What is interstitial journaling?

Interstitial journaling is the practice of capturing thoughts, tasks, and notes as individual items in a list. In simpler terms, interstitial journaling is about writing down your thoughts and ideas as you have them, throughout the day.

Anne-Laure called it combining note-taking, tasks, and time tracking in one unique workflow 1.

What do I use for my interstitial journaling?

I use Obsidian as my personal knowledge management tool. I use the Daily Note feature. In a daily note for any day, I have a heading titled “Notes” which contains my interstitial journal.

I update the Notes section whenever I start some new task or activity. I add a timestamp with a short note on what I was working on.

10:42 - starting JIRA:PROJA-3352
11:27 - got distracted by Steve asking about how to add a hyperlink 
11:35 - Should I do a session to the team on adding hyperlinking? 
11:41 - working on JIRA:PROJA-3352 again
12:03 - Coffee break
12:15 - Read Joanna's newsletter about minimalism. Add her latest book to the to-read list.
12:30 - Done with PROJA-3352 for now. Waiting for Charlie to review it. 
12:42 - Updating the agenda for team meeting to include hyperlinking process.

Why do I find it useful?

  • It reminds me on what I was working on throughout my day.
  • It helps me deal with interruptions as
    • get back on track after an interruption 2
    • identify what kind of interruption and take some action.
      • If it is something that I get asked the same question by multiple people, I might think of adding it to a wiki page or demo it in a meeting.
  • It helps me transition between tasks easily.
    • when switching between multiple tasks, the log provides info on the last known state of a task.
  • It acts as a scratchpad for ideas and thoughts.
  • It serves as a mindfulness practice by helping me be aware of my thoughts (positive and negative).

How do you start interstitial journaling?

Use any tool of your choice: paper-based or digital.

  1. Add a timestamp.
  2. Add a sentence or two about what you are working (in the middle of / just finished).
    • Jot down thoughts you notice or ideas you get.
  3. Repeat at regular intervals (or at random ones) throughout the day.
  4. Keep practicing this journaling for a week or two.
  5. Tweak to suit your style. Be brief or be expansive.

Interstitial journaling is a powerful tool that can help you boost creativity, enhance self-reflection, streamline task management, and reduce stress.

Are you starting your interstitial journaling journey today?