Body Doubling as a productivity hack

Cindy JobsHealth and Well-Being

Body doubling is a powerful productivity tool that is available to nearly everyone but has proven to be an incredibly powerful tool for my clients challenged with ADHD.

I’ve used body-doubling with my physical organizing clients, coaching clients, and colleagues as an accountability tool, and it works amazingly well.

In a nutshell, this is the body double process:

Two or more people agree to meet physically or virtually to maintain accountability to the desired task(s).  Body doubles become paid, or unpaid mirrors for success.

What might be suitable for body-doubling?

  • Project support:  Is there a project you just can’t get started on?  If so, planning a body double session will give you the motivation to start the task.  And, although the body double may not be there for technical support, if you get stuck, the body double may be able to help you think through the process.
  • Housework:  Most people don’t like to do housework, and it’s even more tedious if you are by yourself.  Having a body double, commit if they aren’t doing housework along with you, provides motivation and accountability.  Things are just more fun with others around.
  • Homework:  With many students heading back to school, focusing on homework may become a challenge.  Using a body double to ensure that the time devoted to studying is used for that purpose will go a long way.  If the student doesn’t live in the house, Skype sessions with parents, friends or siblings can be scheduled.
  • Exercise: It’s super-easy to convince ourselves that we don’t have time to work out; however, when we make a commitment to meet with someone, either in person or virtually, our success rate escalates.
  • Eating:  Some people just don’t like to eat by themselves.  I get it.  Left to my own devices I may very well settle on cereal for dinner instead of spending the time to create a healthy meal.  Setting up a “let’s eat dinner together” video meal is a good way to ensure there is some accountability around healthy eating.

Benefits of body doubling:

  • Avoiding distraction/maintaining focus:  When a commitment is made to someone, whether paid or unpaid, there may be thought around “I can’t waste this person’s time (and my money) by not staying on task.”
  • Accountability to the task:  When we make a commitment to someone else that we are going to work on “X” task at “X” time, having a body double creates a level of accountability, not just around spending the time working but spending the time working on a specific task. 
  • Avoid procrastination:  There are some things we just don’t want to do (or know how to do) and making a commitment to a body-double to start the process may be the best first step.  Also, when the body-double sees limited or no progress, this person can prompt with “what’s the first step you can take in this process?” 

What task are you putting off,or not doing as effectively as you could, that would benefit from body doubling?


Cindy Jobs

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Institute for Challenging Disorganization

Level I Certificates earned in Chronic Disorganization; ADD; Client Administration; Time Management; Mental Health; and Hoarding.

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