Most of us are familiar with the term body double as it relates to film or television. It is a person who stands in for another actor in a particular scene, such as a sex scene. However, that is not at all what I am talking about here! In the world of ADD/ADHD, we use the term body double to refer to a person who hangs out with you while you work on a task which is difficult for you to start or complete while alone, or on which you have been procrastinating. The concept may seem pretty simplistic, but it can actually be an extremely helpful strategy.
Here are some DOs and DON'Ts to keep in mind when selecting a person to be your body double:
- DON'T choose someone who will nag, instruct or judge (Often, but not always, true of a family member);
- DON'T choose someone with whom you tend to be especially chatty (unless you are certain you can resist chatting or perhaps agree to use it a reward);
- DON'T choose someone who is likely to step in, unsolicited, to give you "advice"
- DO choose a person with whom you have some comfort level;
- DO choose someone you know can sit quietly and do her own thing;
- DO choose a person who really 'gets' your challenges, if possible;
- DO choose someone with whom you can reciprocate, either at the same time, or at a later date
Having someone there with you can be very effective in helping you begin and stay on task. This is not because the person is acting in the role of taskmaster; simply, the mere presence of another person can serve as a reminder of what you want to accomplish at that time. The body double can also function as a sort of mirror. For example, have you ever said something like this to yourself, perhaps while procrastinating? "If I had a boss, who was watching me right now, that would NOT be a good thing!" When you know that someone IS there, who also knows what you are 'supposed' to be doing, it can feel a little bit like an audience, in a helpful way, because that presence can help you feel more centered and help you to stay on task, should you become bored or distracted.
You can use a body double in any way that serves you and for any type of task, but here are some that lend themselves especially well to this strategy:
- Cleaning or organizing projects
- Paying bills
Depending on what you hope to accomplish, and on other issues such as pet allergies, noise or proximity of small distracting beings, choose a place that best serves the task and your style. For example, I used to meet someone regularly at the library for a fixed period of time when I wanted to get some reading done. I would bring only the material I wanted to read, paper, and sometimes my computer. The woman with whom I met had challenges which were similar to mine, so she would also bring something she needed to tackle as well. Design the relationship so it serves you best. Earlier, I said not to choose a person who would nag or instruct; however, IF it serves you to have the person comment if you do something such as get on your computer, or fold the laundry, or water the flowers, or anything that is NOT what you intend to work on, set that up ahead of time. I have been known to say to people, " If you see me doing anything other than sitting at this desk or taking a quick bathroom break, please call me on it!" ;-) There are NO hard and fast rules- design it so it works for you.