Use ‘Body Doubling’ to Increase Your Productivity

Use ‘Body Doubling’ to Increase Your Productivity

If you’ve been paying attention to ADHD TikTok, you may have heard of the term “body doubling,” which is a productivity tool that is often used to stay focused and on-task. Body doubling is when another person works simultaneously with you, either in the same room or virtually. Sometimes called an accountability buddy, the mere presence of another person can often serve as motivation to stay focused and complete tasks.

What is body doubling?

Body doubling is one of those productivity tools that we often use without ever calling it by name or consciously thinking of it as a hack. For example, we might head to a coffee shop to work in the presence of strangers, rather than getting off-task at home. Or we tend to push ourselves harder at the gym, surrounded by others doing the same thing, than we might while working out at home by ourselves.

There’s something about completing work while surrounded by other people that can encourage us to stay focused, even if it’s a task that we normally hate to do. As René Brooks, a blogger with ADHD, who tweets from the account Black Girl, Lost Keys, recently told the Washington Post, informal body doubling has been part of our culture for generations.

“It’s like the communal nature that you see when you’re looking at work that’s traditionally done by women, like churning butter, shelling peas in circles, that kind of thing. That is absolutely body doubling. We’re not just there for the sake of the activity, we’re also there for the social connections that we make,” she said.

Doing tasks while surrounded by people can make even the most mundane, dreaded activity more doable. This is especially helpful if you have a disorder, such as ADHD, which causes executive functioning issues — but even if you don’t, it will still help you stay on task.

How to consciously take advantage of body doubling

Given that body doubling is already part of what we do, this means that with a little conscious effort, it’s possible to harness it for an even greater effect. When it comes to body doubling, you can choose to either do a physical, in-person session or you can opt for virtual.

What you’ll want is to find a community, whether it’s friends or an organised group, with whom to do tasks. The risk of body doubling is that if there aren’t clear boundaries, it can easily become its own distraction. That’s why it is most effective when there’s an agreement on the rules.

For example, if you are working on tasks that require concentration, the agreement could be that it’s OK to chat a little in the beginning, after which everyone will work for a specified amount of time. For virtual sessions, there could be separate rooms for quiet, focused work, and discussions.

If the priority is doing the dreaded tasks that take time, but not a lot of focus, such as housework, it helps to have an agreed upon set of goals, with the opportunity to socialise being part of the motivation for getting the work done. For tasks such as housework, this could be in the form of talking with a friend on the phone while you both do the tasks.

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