A body double helps anchor you long enough to get things done. A body double is an excellent strategy to help you coregulate and reach complete tasks.
They say two heads are better than one, but a popular theory among adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) suggests that two bodies might be better than one, as well.
While the evidence is largely anecdotal, (given that no recent scientific studies exist), many ADHD adults benefit from a practice known as body doubling.
Body Doubling Provides Big Benefits for ADHD adults.
No, there is no cloning involved in the process. Body doubling for adhd simply means you have another person nearby (or even virtually attending) as you tackle mundane or frustrating tasks. Many of these tasks require you to remain focused, concentrate and require little movement. So, consider how often you put off tasks such as studying, reading, paying bills, writing, and other things like that. The thing is, your ADHD brain rebels because these are exactly the tasks most people find boring, yet they require a high level of executive functioning and organization. This is what makes these tasks hard for ADHD adults, even when they may seem easy.
Does a Body Double Do the Things?
In some cases, the body double helps the person with their tasks. In others, they just sit there quietly doing a task of their own choosing. It’s not about “working together” as much as it is about “having someone else present.”
When you stop to think about it, the practice makes sense. Most people find it easier to get things accomplished with someone else keeping company. A walk around the block starts feeling more like a social event than physical exercise. A long car ride is less boring with someone to talk to. It’s more fun to clean the kitchen with your spouse than alone.
For those with ADHD, however, it’s more than just companionship; their body double actually helps them focus on the task at hand.
Body Doubling Definition
Adults diagnosed with ADHD typically present in three different ways: hyperactive type, inattentive type, and combined type.
- With the hyperactive type, just sitting still can be a challenge in and of itself. You may feel the need to constantly be on the move, wandering around the house or literally bouncing in your seat. This restlessness can really make task completion hard.
- With the inattentive type, your ability to focus is compromised. You know you should be working on your taxes, but suddenly you find yourself watering the plants, throwing the ball for the dog, or looking up a friend from high school on Facebook.
- The combined type gets the best (and sometimes worst) of both worlds.
Body doubling works for all ADHD subtypes. For those with hyperactivity, the body double serves as a gentle presence that can instill a sense of calm. For those who are primarily inattentive, the body double serves as a tangible reminder to remain focused – even if they’re not “saying” anything at all.
Who Can Body Double?
Anyone can be a body double: A friend, family member, mentor, or co-worker. You might have one go-to person, or you might have a different one for each activity. During the pandemic, when social contact was limited, many fans of the practice even switched to virtual body doubles using Facetime or Zoom.
There’s no skill to it. Your body double’s job is to literally just…sit there. They might read a book, balance their checkbook, catch up on their studying, or any other non-disruptive task of their choosing. The effect is caused by their physical presence.
Five Benefits of Body Doubling for ADHD Adults
Body doubling has plenty of benefits for adults with ADHD, here are a few.
Your focus improves
Just having someone sit with you while you complete a task can help you improve your focus, since there’s a sense of unspoken “pressure” to finish. Your body double doesn’t hover and hound you to buckle down and get things done. No, instead it helps you recognize someone else is there with you which in turn helps you focus.
You feel less isolated
It’s no secret that people with ADHD often feel isolated, judged, and shamed for their condition — and probably have felt that way for as long as they can remember. A body double reminds you that there’s someone in your corner that cares enough to cheer you on.
Ask your body double for tips
Even though your body double isn’t there to physically help you complete a task (although they might work in tandem with you), they can observe you and perhaps offer suggestions. For instance, a body double may have a more effective system for processing email or managing projects. If you learn by seeing or doing, this serves as ‘modeling’ and they can share ideas with you if they see you struggling.
Body doubling increases motivation
So many ADHD adults identify as “people pleasers.” They honestly love making others proud. So, instead of making people-pleasing the enemy, use it to your advantage! You can text your body double “Hey, I just finished XYZ!”. You get to check off a task and stay motivated and on track and get the job done.
You’re using someone else’s time
When we’re alone, it’s only our time we waste. And although bills may pile up and that load of towels might be washed again, when alone, we don’t inconvenience anyone else. Using a body double, however, requires us to schedule a time to get things done and keep to that schedule. This helps anchor the task to an event. And this is a solution that seems to work well. If you don’t show, you’re effectively wasting someone else’s time…and the “people pleaser” in you may find that completely unacceptable. So, this body doubling can make the best of both worlds because body doubling forces external accountability.
How Body Doubling Can Help You
Body doubling seems to have origins in self-help. Despite no clinical trials or labs, body doubling has anecdotal weight. Ask most ADHDers and they’ll happily share the benefits they’ve enjoyed. Some ADHD Adults use this strategy regularly. If you’re interested, check out Focus Mate. Your free membership allows for 3 sessions per week so you can team up for success!
Is ADHD running your entire life? It’s time to take back control. As a certified ADHD coach, I see firsthand how body doubling helps my ADHD high performers. Sharing time on zoom calls helps slow you down so you can create systems in real-time. Screensharing helps you see how things can actually work. Co-created coaching allows collaboration and this can show you how to manage your time, systems, and projects. We can also organize your space, and take away the power ADHD is holding over you. It all starts with a FREE Discovery Call!