Body Doubling: A Productivity Hack for ADHD

Amy Barczy

| 3 min read

Amy Barczy is a former brand journalist who authored...

Students work along side each other with their laptops
For individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), concentrating for long periods of time is difficult. ADHD is a disorder of the part of the brain that manages executive functions like focusing and completing tasks, managing self-control and paying attention. Which means for individuals with ADHD, frustrating or mundane tasks like writing a college essay, folding a mountain of laundry or doing taxes can be a struggle to complete. Enter “body doubling” – a self-help strategy that’s growing in popularity in the ADHD community. It’s when a person with ADHD works on a task in the presence of another person. There are several theories as to why body doubles can help some individuals with ADHD. One is that by having a body double present, the person with ADHD is grounded by feeling the presence of another person. Another theory is that the body double can present a calm reflection of how the person with ADHD would like to present themselves. Body doubling can be in-person or virtual. In-person, body doubles can participate in completing the task or not participate and simply be present. Some individuals with ADHD have turned to live-streaming themselves on social media platforms to connect with others while they complete everyday tasks as a form of virtual body doubling. The Washington Post recently featured one such example: A teacher in her 30s with ADHD live-streamed herself on TikTok as she finally tackled her growing piles of laundry. “Everybody was so encouraging,” the teacher said to The Post. “It made it really feel like a group project, not just me by myself on camera. It definitely made the time go by faster.” In another virtual format, body doubling can also be conducted through a video call service like Skype. The organization Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) featured a column written by the mother of a 25-year-old son with ADHD. Though they live more than 500 miles apart, they use routine Skype calls to help the son focus on his graduate-level studies at college. Coping and living with ADHD can be daunting at first. Everything from paying bills to focusing at work to managing your social life and relationships can be affected, but simply striving to survive doesn’t have to be the expectation. By learning to manage daily tasks without overexerting the mind, adults with ADHD can overcome their symptoms and find a way to thrive. Body doubling may not work for everyone; and it may make ADHD symptoms worse for some individuals. It’s also not a standard treatment for ADHD. Standard treatments for ADHD include stimulant medication and behavioral therapy. A professional therapist can help you determine the best combination of treatment and strategies to navigate your everyday life. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network can help members find an in-network mental health professional by calling behavioral health access lines listed below: PPO: Behavioral Health Access Line | 1-800-762-2382 
  • A free and confidential resource that’s just a call away when you need immediate support. Behavioral health professionals answer, 24/7. 
HMO: Behavioral Health Access Line | 1-800-482-5982 
  • Connect with a behavioral health clinician if you need help finding a mental health or substance use provider. 
  • Behavioral health clinicians are available for routine assistance from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For urgent concerns after hours, clinicians are also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 
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