Body Doubling for ADHD is one of the most underutilized tools out there. I’ve been doing it for years successfully, so I have no idea why more people aren’t trying it.
According to author Patricia Quinn, MD, “A body double is someone who sits with a person with ADHD while they perform tasks that are difficult to accomplish alone.” SOURCE
Need to get more done? (don’t we all?)
Having another person or persons there helps us to set goals and activate to work. And there is built-in accountability because we can see what the others are doing. Or not doing as the case may be.
Body doubling for ADHD is a game-changer.
First, look for a body double partner or partners who understand how ADHD works and why it is so hard to get things done.
I like to use Zoom for my Body Double Group but you could easily use Facetime or some other streaming video.
If you are in person all you need is a small space for each of you to work in and get comfortable.
There is no need to talk while your work unless you want to. In our group, we often chat at the beginning, and then intermittently throughout our work time. If the group is particularly chatty we open up a quiet room inside zoom.
Each person does their own thing. You can ask for advice as needed or mute yourself if there is noise in the background.
Since we meet virtually we get a window into the challenges we each face in trying to accomplish our goals. It’s actually really comforting to have another person there while you do scary things like open bills and such.
Body Doubling Creates a Productive Routine
For me, anything that does not involve content creation, or my community, does not exist.
So things like laundry and paying bills are often pushed to the side until I have, “time” to do it. Which is never because laundry and bills are boring.
Scheduling body double sessions with my community forces me to make it an appointment.
After a couple weeks of consistent body double sessions we are in a routine and getting stuff done. There is no point in turning back once you become productive.
Getting Started Is Easier
You know how when you sit down to do some unpleasant task….getting started is just so stinkin’ hard? Sometimes it’s hard to get started even on a pleasant task.
You start to spin and talk yourself out of it, or make excuses.
ADHD’ers have a problem with what psychologists call “activation.” See my post on Activation as an EF.
When we have company we have less trouble getting started. With someone else is there we tend to settle into the activity faster and complete it faster, which leads us to even more productive behaviors.
Motivation is built-in
When we observe someone working diligently we instinctively want to emulate their behavior. There is some research to back this up involving what are called “mirror neurons.” Some information can be found in this article.
Frankly, I couldn’t care less why or how it is happening. I am just glad that my body double friends can motivate me with their presence. And I can do the same for them.
Body Doubling Changes our perception of work
When you think about working, you think about doing things you don’t want to do. Am I right?
We also picture work as a solitary activity, because even when you work in an office or with other people, you generally work alone at your desk. During the pandemic this feeling of isolation was a serious road block for so many adults with ADHD.
Feeling like you are obligated to do something makes it less pleasant all around. There is nothing yuckier than saying, “I should….”, right?
Body doubling gives me just enough social interaction so I do not feel alone. Though we have different projects and goals, we are all in this together.
Teamwork makes the dream work? Cheesy but true.
Body Double offers endless possibilities
Picture this: It’s 2pm on a Tuesday and you’ve been online body doubling for about an hour. In that time You have completed your meal plan for the week, and cleaned out your email inbox.
How would you feel?
Believe it or not you can use body doubling for exercising, studying, organizing…virtually anything. All you need is a partner and a plan.
Clean out your closet
Dust your living space
Organize your desk
Research for a school project
Create a meal plan for the week
Write in your journal
Getting started with body doubling is fairly simple. Sometimes I wonder why it took me so long to offer this up to everyone.
If I could I would body double all day, every day. But some of the lovely ladies in my community have offered to host extra sessions. So you now have the opportunity to Body Double every day of the WEEK.
Come check out the Enclave! There’s something for everyone.
2 comments on “Body Doubling for ADHD”
I didn’t know this had a name until I read this article. Four years ago I discovered this magic trick when a friend of mine, Jim, came over a couple times a week to help me declutter. There were two challenges we faced. First, he had no idea what to keep, donate or throw away. Second, he is legally blind. But, as a 64 y/o ADHD adult, I knew there were always workarounds which were implemented as soon as they made themselves known.
What resulted was, for me, a miracle. When I was hesitant, Jim would ask me how much I wanted it, why, and when had I last used it, etc.. He did this in such a supportive, Non-Judgemental way that it became fun and relatively easy. I was able to clear out my 2 car garage, craft room and bedroom and took 3 carsful of books to the thrift store, emptying five 6′ tall bookcases. I could/would not have gotten so much done without his presence.
However, I have moved into a much smaller place, he is not available to sit with me anymore and there is so much more to be done.
The key to success is finding someone who is truly non-judgemental to hang out with.
Thank you so much for commenting.
I too find that having another person/s present helps me to get things done. I have actually cleaned out my kitchen while body doubling.
It really is an interesting phenomenon. Stick around! I am starting some body doubling groups in the near future.
What kind of projects would you like to body double with?