🌱 Harnessing Your Neurodiversity Gifts 🌱
Boost Productivity & Get Things Done: Why All ADHD Professionals Should Be Embracing The ‘Body Double’
As an executive coach with ADHD, I have full belief in my ability to achieve what I want to achieve. I have learned to embrace my unique neurodiversity and harness my skills that I was gifted with.
A common challenge for professionals with ADHD, even those who have risen to leadership and CEO level, is simply getting things done. Procrastination, distractions or difficulty prioritizing tasks can prevent anyone from being productive - but these traits are particularly prevalent among those with ADHD.
For those of us with ADHD, we can trace these productivity challenges right back to our brain chemistry. The ADHD brain is low on dopamine and norepinephrine, which together sustain the brain's arousal and attention levels.
So what can ADHD professionals do to increase their productivity? There are various straightforward actions you can take to manage your time effectively.
However, in this article I want to share an innovative and fascinating technique which ADHD professionals can use to supercharge their productivity: the ‘Body Double’.
What is the ‘Body Double’ technique for boosting ADHD productivity?
ADHD body doubling is simply where a person with ADHD works in the presence of another person. This second person is the 'body double' for the person with ADHD.
The phrase 'body double' captures the idea that the second person does not necessarily need to actively contribute to the task at hand. Rather, their mere presence in the room (or wherever the task is taking place) helps the person with ADHD to avoid distractions, focus on the here-and-now, and work more efficiently.
There are a number of different ways a person can act as a body double for somebody with ADHD:
🔵 Passive Body Doubling
Where the body double is simply in the same space as the person with ADHD but is not invested in the work. They might be listening to music or doing their own work.
🟢 Active Body Doubling
Where the body double is more engaged with keeping the person with ADHD on-track. This might include gently checking in on their progress, offering advice, or helping the person keep time.
🟠 Team Body Doubling
Where the body double and the person with ADHD are working on the same fundamental task. Examples might include working on different slides of the same presentation, completing the same piece of homework, or doing household chores together.
Does ADHD Body Doubling Work?
There are several plausible explanations as to why body doubling can be effective for boosting productivity:
✔️Increased Pleasure & Reward
For many people - both with and without ADHD - working alone for hours at a time is not an attractive prospect. On the other hand, working in the presence of another person is not only a more pleasurable alternative for the ADHD brain, it can also reduce the temptation of distractions.
This is particularly true if your body double is a friend or family member. For example, if your best friend is sitting with you in the same room, there is no need to message them, or check social media to find out what they might be doing.
Your body double can amplify the sense of reward you feel for completing a task and even provide instant gratification. Completing a task in the presence of a body double can earn you their praise, and might even mean that you can go and hang out together afterwards.
✔️Lived Experience: More than Anecdotal
The benefits of body doubling have been widely reported by those with ADHD. However, there is plenty of other evidence available to show that our productivity gets a welcome boost when we’re in the presence of others.
Students have long benefitted from doing homework with a friend, or even forming a study group. Professional athletes often train in pairs or groups - even training alongside their closest competitors! Meanwhile professionals in all industries work in teams, as opposed to in isolation.
The benefits of working with others are not solely linked to concentration and productivity - but there’s no doubt that added accountability, improved focus, and the benefits of light interaction all play a part.
✔️A Calming Presence
Humans have a tendency to unconsciously copy the behavior and mannerisms of those around them. It helps us to bond and make connections with one another, even when we are not actively trying to.
Some have put this behavior down to ‘mirror neurons’ , which fire when we watch the actions or behaviors of somebody else.
While there is scientific debate around the idea of mirror neurons, the behavior of mimicking those around us has been extensively observed - and could help to explain why the mere presence of a calm person in the room can aid focus and productivity. The key is to choose the right body double!
What should I look for in an ADHD Body Double?
Traditionally, an ADHD Body Double is most likely to be a colleague, friend, classmate, or family member. In today’s connected world, you could also body double with anyone around the world through virtual body doubling.
Think carefully about who you choose as your body double depending on your circumstances and the task and hand. Whoever you choose, it’s recommended to ensure they are comfortable with the following:
Genuine Focus & Independent Work
It might be rewarding to study with your best friend, but you both need to be able to maintain focus and concentration. If you are likely to quickly lose focus and distract each other, it is better to choose somebody else!
A Calm and Quiet Workspace
Although it is absolutely fine for your body double to engage in their own tasks, these activities should allow for a calm, quiet workspace - such as studying, reading or listening to music. They should avoid disruptive activities such as taking phone calls or doing household chores.
Unlock the Next Brilliant Chapter of Your Life
The Body Double technique is both powerful and unique. This is because struggles with productivity can leave those with neurodiversity feeling overwhelmed, unfulfilled and doubtful about their ability to succeed.
Through coaching my clients with The Bloom Method™️, I help them explore other innovative ways to make that impact they strive for. If you're ready to break-free from frustration and grasp the next chapter of your life, I'd love to hear from you! book a complimentary consult today Kate