How A Body Double Can Help You Stay Productive And Accountable

When you hear the term body double it likely makes you think of a burly stunt double standing in for a James Bond actor as he leaps from building to building. But, as it turns out, having a “double” of your own could be just as helpful for mundane (yet equally difficult) tasks like paying your bills or folding your laundry.

No, we’re not suggesting you find a lookalike stunt actor…  We’re talking about body doubling, a concept that started in the ADHD world and is closely linked to what we do here at Focusmate!

If you struggle with getting started with tasks or staying focused, body doubling can be an absolute game-changer. Read on to learn more.

What is a body double?

Body double is a term coined by the ADHD community that refers to someone else who is present while you complete tasks of any kind.

People with inattentive ADHD often struggle to initiate tasks, due to an overstimulated mind and overwhelming thoughts. They can also find it difficult to sit still and stay focused for extended periods. Having someone by their side makes it easier to not only get started, but also stay in the zone and see a task through to completion.

The body double doesn’t have to ‘do’ anything in particular — they can work alongside you, or they can simply be there for moral support. What’s important is that they’re there, either in person or virtually via video chat.

Why is a body double so effective?

ADHD coach Linda Anderson believes a body double serves as a ‘physical anchor’ — a grounding presence that keeps the distracted individual planted firmly in their seat. Simply sensing that someone else is present (even if it’s just on their computer screen) is often enough to help them stay put. 

Another theory is that the body double acts as a mirror, a calming reflection that sends the message “I am focused, I am working, I can concentrate.” This visual feedback allows the distracted person to mirror the body double’s behaviour and do the same.

The Polyvagal Theory developed by Steven Porges may also help explain why body doubling works so well. This idea proposes that there is a ventral vagal parasympathetic nervous system state in which the body takes environmental cues that it is safe. When we are in this safe and social state, our heart rate slows and we feel more calm and focused. Body doubling may help to initiate this state through co-regulation, fostering a sense of connection with a safe other person.

On a simpler level, body doubling works because it provides accountability! It’s similar to how you’re far more likely to turn up to a gym session if you’ve made arrangements with a friend. By nature, we humans are social creatures. We all like to be accepted, and hate to disappoint others! 

Is body doubling only for people with ADHD?

Body doubling can be a revolutionary strategy for those with or without ADHD.

Whether you struggle with ADHD, procrastination, anxiety, or just have certain tasks that feel like your personal Mount Everest, body doubling can help you conquer your to-do list. 

How to incorporate body doubling into your schedule

All you need for body doubling is a friend, family member, partner or colleague who is prepared to hang out with you while you get your task done. But, sometimes this can be tricky, especially with COVID-19 separating many of us by distance. 

The good news is, the rise of virtual co-working makes it easy to get that extra boost of motivation and accountability, anytime and anywhere! And, it’s equally beneficial, because you’re both there to work on your own tasks, so you’re both the body doubles. 

That’s exactly what we do here at Focusmate. When you join our community, you get access to virtual coworking sessions with incredible people around the world. For those 50 minutes, you’ll act as each other’s body double, working in tandem and checking in your progress at the end of the session. Tens of thousands of people, neurodivergent and neurotypical alike, have found that this approach is the missing piece of their productivity puzzle.

Whether you’re working on an important work project, creating a business plan for your side hustle or simply putting away the pile of laundry that’s been growing for weeks, a Focusmate can help you get things done.

Get 3 Focusmate sessions for free every week here!

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