Have Work to Do But No Motivation? Bring on the Body Double
When you ADHD, starting or completing dull, boring or repetitive tasks can be challenging. Body doubling is a strategy many individuals with ADHD turn to to help with that problem.
Body doubling refers to doing a task with another person present. You can ask a friend who simply shares space with you while you complete a task, or you can go somewhere where you know others will be present like a library or coffee shop.
Essentially, your body double provides support and helps anchor you to your task, even if they’re not directly involved.
Why Does Body Doubling Work?
While there is not a great deal of research on the topic of body doubling yet, a recent research review showed that the dopamine reward circuitry is activated during social encounters. Because ADHD is characterized by dopamine level differences, body doubling may help people with ADHD by increasing their dopamine levels. They experience more pleasure doing a task with another person present, even there is no direct interaction.
There are a number of benefits that may accrue from working a body double:
- The body double may model more effective ways to complete common tasks.
- Working with a body double can make boring tasks less frustrating, creating an incentive to complete them.
- A body double may help a person with ADHD feel less isolated.
- Having someone alongside them can help a person with ADHD feel calmer and less annoyed.
- The body double provides some accountability and may even be able to offer feedback on distracting or self-defeating behaviors.
- If the strategy works, it may promote greater self-confidence.
How to Work with a Body Double
Anyone can be a body double. If you feel you would benefit from having a body double, ask a friend or family member to be present while you complete a task. The body double does not need to actively help you with the task. They can do something completely unrelated while you complete your task. They are simply present in the space while you complete the task that needs to be done.
You can body double in person, over the phone, via video chat, or even through text. The knowledge that someone is “present” and aware that you are doing the task is intended to increase motivation and follow-through.
If you live alone and do not have someone local who can fill this role, the body double can join you via video or phone. You can even post to social media that you are completing a task to boost feelings of accountability.
ADHD body doubling may not work for everyone. Some potential issues you encounter may include:
- The body double may become a social distraction and prolong the time it takes you to complete your work.
- You might feel embarrassed or inadequate about your ADHD in front of the body double.
- An unsuitable body double might shame or criticize the person with ADHD.
Body doubling is a good strategy to help you get things done but it’s important to choose your body double carefully.
What Is a Body Double and How Does It Help?