Mind & Body

Catching the Time Between Tasks

Use the interstitial ritual to find focus and mindfulness throughout your day
TIMEDecember 29, 2021

We will often start our days with the best of intentions and then promptly get caught up in a chain of busywork, messages, opening browser tabs, checking on things, answering email, and so on.

Soon the day has gone by and we wonder what we did with it.

There’s a simple practice that can shift that in a huge way: the interstitial ritual. Interstitial, for those unfamiliar with the word, means the intervening space or segment. It’s the adjective form of interstice, the gap or break in something that is generally continuous.

The interstitial ritual is very simple:

  • When you finish with a task (or email, message, reading something) pause. Don’t go to the next tab or message right away.
  • Take a breath. Notice where you are, how you feel, what’s around you.
  • Write down what you just finished, if it was a task. For me, I have a today list and a done list and I simply add the last task to my done list, remove it from the today list.
  • Celebrate! Reinforce your accomplishment by being grateful.
  • Now take another breath. What do you want to do next? It can be another task on your today list, it can be answering the next email in your inbox, or it might be to take a break, drink some water, go for a walk, stretch.
  • Set that intention, and get to it.

It’s that simple. A pause, a little mindfulness, write down what you just did, and then consider what you want to do next.

I promise you, this will bring a lot more intention, mindfulness, and focus to your day. You might even get some important stuff done.

The trick is to remember. How will you remember to do this ritual after every task?

And how powerful would it be for you to make this shift?

Leo Babauta
Leo Babauta is the author of six books and the writer of Zen Habits, a blog with over 2 million subscribers. Visit ZenHabits.net