It’s only been a couple weeks since I decided to give Obsidian yet another try and yes, this is going to work out. I’m so glad I decided to give it a try again. A few brief thoughts too about interstitial journaling.

First, my primary use of any markdown/text app is for writing blog posts. In this regard Obsidian is generally on par with any other markdown editor and so it’s easy to just copy my archive over. That’s the beauty of working from folders of files. I duplicated and tweaked my previous Shortcuts for quickly creating new posts from the Home Screen or for link blogging from a web page that now save to my Obsidian folders.

As for journaling, I’ve only ever been irregular at that effort. Obsidian has the daily note feature to help the process along so I took a look at various templates in the hopes that perhaps I’d find one that might help in the process. After a few days I found it wasn’t quite what I wanted. As I browsed around I hit upon “interstitial journaling”. My first thought was, no, not for me.

If you’re not familiar, the basic concept is to just record a timestamped entry when you’re between tasks. Note what you’ve finished, what you might work on next or if you’re taking a break. A sort of running commentary on the day but geared towards productivity. But I wasn’t looking for a productivity hack or anything focused on that. I tend to do fine getting work tasks done without any additional tools or apps. I’d rather my journaling be a bit more open. But something about frequent, time-stamped writing appealed to me. The structure isn’t topical, it’s not definite or set. I’m viewing it as a tool for simple self awareness and as an opportunity to note thoughts and activities as they seem worth noting.

A week in and I have to say that I’m really digging it. I set aside any desire to focus on some sort of constant productivity/task journal and have simply used it to check in. The time stamping pulls me in, I honestly don’t know why. But I do know that I’m writing more as a result. Also worth mentioning, there’s a behavioral phenomena called the Hawthorne effect that several folks have mentioned. The idea being that people “modify an aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed.” The idea in relation to interstitial journaling is that as one starts paying attention to the moments of a day with the added intent of recording those moments, a kind of self awareness sets in.

I suppose in a round-about way I am, in fact, being more “productive” but frankly, I’m just not fond of all of the nerd focus on productivity. I’d much rather think of it in terms of cultivating self awareness. Regardless of the framing, I’m finding it enjoyable and useful. And, unexpectedly, I feel like my days are longer and almost more meaningful as a result of the increased focus on my daily activity.

It’s worth noting, that most of what I’m doing with Obsidian I could have accomplished with iA Writer or other markdown editor. It’s a strange thing really but it’s a fairly small design detail that partly served to prompt my look back to Obsidian. I wanted to be able to more easily navigate and see all my files in folders at the same time. Most markdown editors have a sidebar file browser that functions as a singular column list of files. It makes for a lot of clicking or tapping to navigate. Obsidian offers disclosure triangles and it just feels easier and faster to view the contents of multiple folders at once.

That said, Obsidian is extendable via plugins so it does actually do quite a lot beyond a standard text editor. But out of the box it can be used in a more standard way. As I poke and prod I expect I’ll share a bit about some of the more advanced features.