Body doubling is not just a Hollywood concept.
It's a simple yet powerful tool we should all use.
And it's a game-changer if you have ADHD, struggle with task completion, and want to boost productivity and focus.
Here's everything you need to know about ADHD body doubling online (...and offline).
In summary ✍️
- Body doubling involves completing tasks in the presence of another person
- It works well for challenging, lengthy or repetitive/mundane tasks
- It's a tried-and-true ADHD productivity strategy to initiate and complete tasks
- It can be equally effective in person or online
What is Body Doubling?
Body doubling is a simple productivity strategy that involves completing tasks in the presence of another person (or people).
It's a well-established ADHD productivity strategy that can be a game-changer for managing ADHD symptoms, promoting concentration and boosting task completion.
Body doubling can motivate you to get started, stay focused, and accomplish your tasks and goals.
Your body double(s) can be doing a completely different and unrelated activity.
They don't actively help, engage or interfere with your tasks.
Essentially, they are a passive ADHD accountability buddy that exists in your environment.
Their presence serves as a visual anchor to help you focus, making it easier to start and stay on task.
Chances are you've already experienced body doubling without realising it.
Are your best workouts always in a group exercise class or with a friend? And are you most productive working from a café, coworking space or a library?
People there don't bother you, speak to you, or pressure you to complete your tasks.
They silently work alongside you.
Yet you feel more productive, efficient and energised.
Well... that's body doubling in action.
Why is Body Doubling so Effective for ADHD?
Body doubling gained popularity around the 2020 pandemic, but the concept is not new.
It originated in the ADHD community about 30 years ago.
Body doubling can help boost motivation, focus and task completion for people with ADHD by leveraging the power of shared focus, social facilitation, and gentle social accountability.
People with ADHD often struggle to initiate activities due to low dopamine levels. Especially when the tasks are boring or repetitive (e.g. cleaning).
Research suggests that social encounters activate the dopamine pathway that drives motivation.
For the inattentive ADHD type, virtual body doubling provides a light dopamine stimulus to get you going. Having someone around helps with motivation and makes initiating tasks easier.
For hyperactive ADHD, the presence of another person serves as an anchor that makes it much easier to stay focused on a task.
The physical cue provides a subtle check against wandering thoughts and unnecessary detours and stops you from giving up on your goals.
The presence of others serves as a subtle anchor and motivator, keeping you tethered to the task at hand, nudging you away from procrastination and getting distracted.
This passive accountability enhances focus, wards off procrastination, and increases task completion.
Body doubling is like having a silent ally guiding us gently towards getting things done.
It creates a sense of calm and focus, tempering the tumultuous tides of ADHD.
The reduced distractions and enhanced task completion add an element of stability to the often chaotic world of ADHD.
Is body doubling only for ADHD?
Nope! This ADHD tool is something we should all try and use.
Clinical psychologist Jenna Vyas-lee says:
“Body doubling can help anyone who struggles with attention, concentration and finishing tasks”.
It's one of the most impactful and powerful productivity tools out there…and it’s free.
Yet, a few know about it or use it consciously.
ADHD Body Doubling Online
Body doubling doesn't need to be done in person.
It can be over the phone, chat or text.
ADHD body doubling online is a great option when you don't have an in-person body double or when working from home.
And it can be as effective as someone sitting next to you in person.
Virtual body doubling can work even if you have social anxiety. You can join group virtual body doubling sessions or turn your camera off.
What are the Benefits of ADHD Body Doubling Online?
Body doubling is a simple yet powerful tool that can help you get more done.
The presence of others is a motivation boost, making even the most tedious task easier to start and complete
Your ADHD accountability buddy can serve as a physical anchor that fosters accountability, nudging you away from procrastination and getting distracted.
Virtual body doubling also provides a structure that can help reduce procrastination and increase task completion.
Here are some of the main benefits of ADHD body doubling online:
1. Get started and initiate tasks easier 💪
The hardest part of exercising is not the workout; it's the "getting-out-of-the-door" part.
Virtual body doubling can provide this "activation" to get you started with an extra boost of motivation.
ADHD body doubling online can kick you into motion, helping you to initiate tasks easier and to settle into focus quicker.
2. Stay focused and on task for longer 🔎
ADHD body doubling online offers a platform for deep work and monotasking that boosts concentration and helps avoid distractions.
When we observe someone concentrating, we instinctively want to mimic their behaviour.
The presence of a body double serves as an external reminder that can stop you from getting distracted.
Your accountability partner becomes a physical and mental anchor. A sensory cue that helps refocus your attention.
3. Complete mundane tasks & stop procrastination 😴
Body doubling can make chores less…boring.
Having someone around makes dull tasks much more fun.
ADHD coworking is particularly effective for mundane and repetitive tasks you tend to avoid.
It also encourages you to tackle complex activities you'd rather delay.
And with other people present, procrastination takes a backseat. Precommitting to a body doubling session makes you less inclined to postpone tasks.
4. Reduce overwhelm and analysis paralysis
Ever felt paralysed by a never-ending to-do list?
Just the idea of these overwhelming tasks can give us crippling anxiety and ADHD paralysis sometimes.
Body doubling offers a structure to contain and counteract this paralysis.
"Timeboxing" goals within a body doubling session reduces overwhelm. It helps allocate time to each task and eliminates work spillage.
5. Improve time management & add structure ⏱️
The structured time-limited sessions help you set and meet deadlines.
Structuring our goals in a series of mini-sprints can shift us into highly productive monotasking mode.
Keep in mind that only 2.5% of people excel at multitasking.
Focusing on a single task during a body doubling session can increase our productivity by 40%.
Why is body doubling so effective?
Body doubling works on the principle of social facilitation.
This is the idea that the presence of others can improve our performance on tasks.
When working with someone else, we're more likely to stay focused and motivated and less likely to be distracted.
It might sound oddly simple, but this method has a profound impact for anyone with ADHD.
We still need more clinical research to assess the effects of body doubling.
Currently, most data comes from anecdotal evidence.
Yet, existing research already highlights the impact on the brain when people work on tasks together.
There are several theories that could explain why body doubling is so effective.
At its core, body doubling works by leveraging accountability.
“…provides a gentle form of accountability. Their presence serves as a reminder of what we are supposed to be doing . So we are less likely to get distracted.”
The mere presence of people promotes a state of focus, increased effort and performance.
The subtle social pressure keeps us on task and helps us avoid distractions.
Body doubling uses the concept of social facilitation.
We are all social animals hardwired to perform at our best in the presence of others.
Consider sports games and the impact audiences have on athletes.
Researchers propose that an audience induces arousal in athletes, causing them to perform at their peak.
This is a prime example of social facilitation in the real world.
Body doubling taps into similar neurological and behavioural pathways.
Mirror theory and mirror neurons
Do you remember when you saw someone yawning and you did the same?
Scientists theorise that mirror neurons are responsible for this.
These brain cells fire up when we observe an action performed by someone else. And they prompt us to mimic that behaviour subconsciously.
In the context of body doubling, seeing someone else concentrate activates these neurons. And it prompts us to instinctively “mirror” their focus.
What can you use ADHD body doubling online for?
ADHD body doubling online works best for challenging, repetitive or tedious tasks you procrastinate on.
But we use it for anything really:
- Tasks requiring focus: writing, reading, designing
- Stress and anxiety-inducing tasks: taxes…
- Tedious or mundane things: invoices, responding to emails
- Establishing routines: journaling, meditation, starting the day
- Repetitive tasks: decluttering, cleaning
How to get started with body doubling?
Starting with ADHD body doubling online is easy.
Book a free body doubling session with Deepwrk' accountability partner app, choose a task and just show up.
Looking for more ADHD resources?
If you enjoy podcasts and love consuming information on the go, check out our article with the best ADHD podcasts of 2023.
Fan of reading? Here are our top ADHD books suggestions.
If you are based in the UK you might be able to get the government to pay for some of these resources through the Access to Work ADHD scheme.
ADHD body doubling online is a powerful productivity tool that can help you get things done.
It makes it easier to get started and to stay focused.
And it can even reduce overwhelm, anxiety and paralysis.
Keep in mind that virtual body doubling doesn't work for everyone.
Try it out and see if it does for you.