In the ADHD community, “body doubling” is a productivity strategy designed to help us stay focused on what we’re trying to do.
A “body double” (n.) is a person or even pet who is present with us while we work.
This provides a gentle form of accountability — their presence serves as a reminder of what we’re supposed to be doing so we’re less likely to get distracted.What is a “body double,” and how does it help? – YouTube
But in the world of ADHD, a body double is someone who sits with a person with ADHD as he tackles tasks that might be difficult to complete alone.
Many people with ADHD find it easier to stay focused on housework, homework, bill paying, and other tasks when someone else is around to keep them company. The body double may just sit quietly. He may read, listen to music on headphones, or work on the task that the person with ADHD is working on. Hard work is simply more fun when someone else is nearby.Getting Stuff Done Is Easier with a Friend
But she wasn’t there to procrastinate. For an hour, Ms. Bee, a teacher in her 30s, live-streamed herself sorting the clothes on her account dedicated to ADHD: brainsandspoons. As the live stream went on, viewers jumped in to do their own laundry “with” her.
“Everybody was so encouraging,” said Ms. Bee, who learned she has ADHD as an adult. “It made it really feel like a group project, not just me by myself on camera. It definitely made the time go by faster.”
The ADHD community calls the practice “body doubling.”‘Body doubling,’ an ADHD productivity tool, is flourishing online | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
One of the main challenges students with ADHD and similar disabilities faced is being able to structure self-directed study time outside of class and without intervention from teachers and parents. Students with ADHD will often use “body doubling”, that is, working in the company of other people, at the library or at a coffee shop, as a way of self-imposing structure and accountability.Ascending Diverse Learners
Almost all participants highlighted that the social support from getting active with someone, or “body-doubling”, was a facilitator to being physically active. “Since finding out about my ADHD, I found that body doubling is a very strong motivator. It makes things easier.”Exploring Barriers and Facilitators to Physical Activity in Adults with ADHD: A Qualitative Investigation | SpringerLink
Another facilitator connecting to self-regulatory skills was “body doubling”, a common term to describe completing a task with someone else, which can encourage accountability (Burke et al., 2006) and may be particularly useful for adults with ADHD who struggle to self-regulate behaviour.Exploring Barriers and Facilitators to Physical Activity in Adults with ADHD: A Qualitative Investigation | SpringerLink
As such, inclusive communities (e.g., ADHD groups) and social supports focused on building self-esteem and developing healthy relationships could also bolster PA participation among adults with ADHD. This may simultaneously benefit self-regulation through “body doubling” as mentioned above. Previous research has demonstrated that a sense of belonging or identity with a group is related to increased PA engagement and adherence in local neighborhood communities (Ross & Searle, 2019; Wood et al., 2010). Fostering a sense of community, beyond geographical location, may be valuable for increasing PA engagement in adults with ADHD.Exploring Barriers and Facilitators to Physical Activity in Adults with ADHD: A Qualitative Investigation | SpringerLink
Body doubling is a neurodivergent love locution.
Header image credit: “Parallel Play” by Betsy Selvam