Body doubling: how to have friends with REAL benefits

      Body doubling: how to have friends with REAL benefits

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      By Eleanor Hope-Jones

      Jan 27, 2023

      Have you ever had the experience of needing to be in a library, office or coffee shop to write… well… anything?

      Sounds like you've made use of body doubling, the phenomenon of working in the presence of another person or people to help you get tasks done.

      Let's take a deep dive into exactly what body doubling is, how it works, and how you can try facilitating your own body doubling session to help you work through your to-dos.

      Body doubling simply means working alongside another person to help you remain focused. The body double creates a physical anchor which can help to sustain attention by creating a sense of accountability.

      You and your body double may be working:

      • Together on the same task, like housework or a dance routine

      • On the same thing but individually, like homework or writing on your laptop

      • On two completely different projects in each other's presence.

      Your body double serves as an extra source of motivation to stay focused on the task at hand. The distracted person feels responsible in the presence of the body double, and may even adopt their behavior and focus. It can help eliminate procrastination, and overcome anxiety or fear associated with a particular project.

      As human beings are intrinsically social creatures, using a body double as a productivity strategy can help make an unpleasant task more fun which can also increase motivation, especially for people with ADHD.

      You can use anyone, from family members to work colleagues, to try body doubling. The person present simply has to be in the same room or video-chat working quietly.

      A body doubling session works best when:

      This combines various forms of accountability and time management techniques to make the body doubling work as effectively as possible.

      Think about someone in your life who is good at remaining focused and accomplishing their goals. Avoid asking someone else you know is distractible, or you normally just end up chatting with.

      Once you’ve decided on your incredibly focused friends, consider offering to buy them a coffee and asking them to work together. You could say:

      "Hi there X, what are you up to next week? I'm looking for a working buddy. Working nearby someone else who’s working helps me focus and I'm sure I could learn a lot from your working practices. What do you think?"

      Make sure you clarify you’re not asking them to help with your work or do it for you! If you wanted to go with something more casual you could simply ask:

      "Hello X, what are you up to next week? Want to do some work from [coffee shop/ library/ someone's house] together?"

      If you can't think of anyone to ask, or simply don't want to, try going to environments where body doubling occurs naturally, like a coffee shop, library or co-working space where lots of people work regularly.

      Discover the hidden benefits of a work buddy

      Why finding a work buddy is your next superpower

      Virtual body doubling

      You don't have to be in the same physical space to utilize the magic of body doubling. You can also use an online body to complete tasks and explore the power of a virtual body double.

      You could try this with a friend or family member, or try out a service like FLOWN where trained facilitators and groups of like-minded people use the power of body doubling in virtual coworking sessions.

      Give FLOWN's Flocks a try

      Flocks are virtual coworking sessions that use body doubling to free you from distraction and take the willpower out of productivity.

      Try a Flock for free today, and see how much you can tick off your to-do list!

      Body doubling emerged as a productivity strategy out of ADHD support groups, so it’s no surprise that it's mainly been passed around by word of mouth.

      There are no peer-reviewed studies that specifically explore the benefits of body doubling compared to a control group, or even look at what's happening neurologically when someone focuses through the help of a body double.

      But there is growing anecdotal evidence, and we can read between the lines and make some hypotheses on why it works so well.

      Both ADHD and procrastination are types of executive dysfunction. Executive functioning means how effective our cognitive processes are, like the ability to organize thoughts and activities, prioritize tasks and manage time efficiently.

      There is growing evidence that suggests the best way to deal with executive dysfunction is through lifestyle interventions to make a task more fun and enjoyable i.e. by changing the environment, relationship and perception of the task.

      A boring task like cleaning can be enjoyable when done with a friend, or a tricky task like essay writing becomes a joint endeavor.

      Socially there's also the added pressure of viewing someone else's time as innately more valuable than our own.

      Learn more about body doubling and FLOWN

      Our Flocks are daily deep work sessions held on Zoom that use body doubling, intention setting and the power of community to help you get more done than you thought possible.

      Lots of our members have adult ADHD and use Flocks to increase their attention span and create a daily schedule.

      Though individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are most likely to benefit from body doubling, they're not the only people who can enjoy and use this productivity hack. Anyone who struggles to focus or complete a specific task may find body doubling helps them to get things done.

      It's worth mentioning that a body double may not work for everyone. Some individuals with ADHD may find it more distracting or difficult to work around others. It all depends on how your ADHD presents and interacts with the rest of your strengths and weaknesses.

      Not quite.

      Mirroring refers to the process of mimicking another person's movements, speech patterns and gestures. It's can be done consciously, or unconsciously. In fact, we're thought to mirror the movements of people we like.

      When you are body doubling you don't have to be making the same movements or speech patterns or even doing the same kind of work. You’re just using another’s presence to help find your own focus.

      You may find body doubling is a game changer for you, as it taps into specific circuits in your brain and unlocks focus. But don't be disheartened if this is not your experience.

      There are lots of strategies you can employ to manage ADHD in the workplace or overcome procrastination, body doubling is only one of them. You may find body doubling works best for you in conjunction with other techniques.

      It's all about finding productivity rituals that work for you, so you can find a balance between work and rest in your life.

      Join a Flock for free to experience body doubling for yourself

      Our expertly facilitated deep work sessions will help you focus and get more done than you ever thought possible.

      Run on Zoom and guided by one of our expert facilitators, Flocks are unique, fun – and so effective that 88% of people who try one come back for more

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