What the heck is body doubling?
Everything you need to know about this life-hack (whether you have ADHD or not).
Rebecca is a freelance PR consultant, a Groover, an avid gardener, and all-around awesome person. Because my son and many Groovers have ADD/ADHD, I’m always interested in hearing about the novel methods that people with ADD/ADHD use to thrive. Body doubling, a method that a few members of the Groove community use to focus, is pretty dang cool. Here, Rebecca helps me learn a bit more about it and shares her experience:
Tova: Rebecca, you’re a supremely effective, driven, creative person. You’ve said you also happen to have ADD. How did you come to realize that or get diagnosed?
Rebecca: Funnily enough, I didn’t realize until I was 25 that I had ADHD. I thought I had a unique learning style and could multitask better than other people but I didn’t think much of it.
All the way through school and university, I’d never get started on any assignments until beyond the last minute, often pulling all-nighters. Living with friends was very distracting and the only time I could focus was when everyone had gone to bed! When I moved to San Francisco in my 20s, I made a new friend whose mind was just as meandering and quick as mine - no one around could follow our conversation! She had been diagnosed with ADHD and she gently let me know that we were so similar I must have it too. I got assessed, and sure enough I tested off the charts.
Tova: So what is Body Doubling? Why does it work for you or for other people you know who have ADD?
Rebecca: I only found out about the concept through Groove. It’s the idea that having a witness sit with you while you are trying to accomplish a task will help keep you on track. Just someone sitting nearby is very helpful.
Tova: What’s your first memory of needing someone near you to get things done?
Rebecca: My mother used to make me do homework assignments in the kitchen so that she could keep an eye on me when I had big deadlines. Could this be a form of body doubling? I have always liked to have people nearby when I had a mundane task that needed to be done: folding laundry, homework, cleaning, packing or taxes. And I was lucky enough to have friends and family who could come hang out and keep me in line!
Tova: How can Groove be useful in body doubling? I know you’ve mentioned maybe it needs the option for video to be on the whole time. Why is that something that could be helpful?
Rebecca: The concept of Groove - in which you state your tasks at the start of the call and then regroup 50 minutes later - IS body doubling! It’s a manageable window of time to really get productive, and a gentle reminder that I need to stay on task so that I have something to share in the regroup.
Tova: Do you have any other favorite methods that you find helpful for getting things done?
Rebecca: Having been dealing with this for many years, I am aware that I’m better at focusing in the daytime (not at night) and after exercising. So, I start my day early with a dog beach walk and a pilates or yoga class, and settle down to work by 10 or 11am. As I work across time zones, I’m often doing calls in the evenings, but I try to get the bulk of my thinking done earlier in the day.
I religiously use Google Keep: I have a “TODAY” list and start each day by updating it with everything I need to do that day - just short term tasks, not long term. I refer back to this list regularly on my phone and computer. And Google Calendar of course. If it’s not on there, it’s not happening!
Tova: Clearly there are some superpowers in being someone with ADD/ADHD. Yet today’s technology is also supremely distracting. Any thoughts on how to deal?
Apple’s new focus feature is quite useful for cutting out the noise. I have recently started using Tab Groups in my web browser - which means the only tabs I have open are relevant for the task at hand or the project I’m working on that day. Tabs related to other projects or clients are saved in other tab groups so I can easily find them when I’m ready for the next project.
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