Problems vs. Solutions: body double

A friend recently shared a strategy from her line of work that had me nodding my head and saying, Yes, yes! That’s true in my world too!

The strategy: Having a body double. (No, probably not the kind you’re thinking.)

My friend, Susan, is a professional organizer and ADD specialist. In Susan’s world, a body double is someone who is present in the room as a person with ADD tackles a task—anything from bill paying to homework to house cleaning. The body double’s presence helps the person get started, stay on task, and get their work done.

This is ringing a bell, isn’t it?

Because this focusing strategy isn’t just for people with ADD. I’ve witnessed it with my coaching clients—and in my own life.

As if by magic

A body double seems to work almost as if by magic. When someone else is around and you’re accountable for a specific task, it’s so much easier to get it done. When another body is present, avoiding distractions and staying focused on the task at hand just seems easier.

While you may not have attention deficit disorder, consider how a body double might help you get things done. Particularly things you’ve been procrastinating about.

It’s not about nagging

The body double doesn’t have to actively help you with the task or micromanage you doing it. They don’t need to nag or supervise. They can be doing their own thing, totally separate from you and your task. It’s simply their presence you need.

Can you trade time being someone’s body double?

Let’s say you and a co-worker meet up for a couple hours to be each other’s body double and get those expense reports done you’ve been putting off. Or you and a fellow solopreneur meet for an afternoon so you can both work on tasks you’ve been putting off around your business.

A virtual body double

I once participated in a twist on the body double concept. A group of eight women scattered across the country convened by phone early on a Saturday morning. Each of us had a laundry list of decluttering-related To Dos we’d been procrastinating about: Cleaning out closets, clearing off desks, sorting and filing paperwork, organizing dressers and drawers, separating items for donation, and so on.

The day began with everyone stating aloud their goal by day’s end. Then everyone hung up and got down to business.

But—and here’s where the concept of the body double comes in—we reconvened by phone every hour for an accountability check-in as well as to brainstorm if someone was stuck.

While those on the phone were not literally in the room with me, I felt their presence all the same. The body double concept was there in spirit. Knowing I would need to check in about my progress—and that I could get support if I were stuck—made all the difference. I stayed focused and achieved my desired goal by late afternoon when we had our final call.

Put this tool in your toolkit

A body double could be just the productivity boost you need for outstanding projects or nagging To Dos.

Could a body double help you gain focus, avoid distractions, and get things done? What have you been procrastinating about that having a body double might help?