By Linda Walker
Have you ever thought it would be fun to have a body double? In Hollywood, actors use body doubles to appear in films with six-pack abs and tight, firm bodies without eating anything but seaweed and grapefruit while working out five hours a day. Less popular politicians and dictators also use body doubles, but in that case, it’s because people are out to get them.
Imagine if you had your own body double. Even if no one is out to get you, your double could show up to work on time, while you saunter in late, no one the wiser. No one would notice that you’d forgotten things they’d told your body double earlier since you forget what they tell you anyway! And productivity wouldn’t be a problem… if there were two of you, your double could work while you’re distracted!
Body doubles seem like a great idea, but a bit out of a reach for the average adult with ADHD. But what if I told you body doubles are actually a fantastic way to boost your productivity?
Paperwork is the bane of existence for most adults with ADHD. Repetitive, boring, a necessary evil, unfortunately, paperwork IS necessary. A body double will help you get paperwork done, and not by having your double fill in forms while you watch TV! Although no one really understands why, a body double is a proven technique for getting paperwork (and other boring tasks, such as cleaning your desk, organizing your garage or weeding your garden) done.
Most of us learn that if we need to concentrate, we should isolate ourselves, preferably without distracting noise. When it’s time to complete your expense report or file your taxes, you mute your phone, put a Do Not Disturb sign on your office and close the door. Then you spend three hours straightening out paperclips, surfing the Web, doodling pictures of the inventor of expense reports being tortured and other activities more interesting than completing the expense report (There’s no shortage of those!)
The ADHD brain works differently. While a lot of research is being done on ADHD, no one has discovered why this particular tactic works. However, while it is counter-intuitive, it is very effective for ADHD brains. If you’re struggling with paperwork, invite someone to join you.
The person you ask to sit with you will be your body double. What do they do? Their role is to be present. They don’t need to do anything. They don’t need to help you. They don’t need to nag you. They don’t need to be working on anything. They could be reading a comic book or doing work of their own. You don’t even need to tell them they’re being your body double! But as weird as this seems, their presence will help you complete your paperwork in record time.
Think back to your childhood. Didn’t you love those rare days when the teacher gave you a few extra minutes to work on your home work in class before the bell rang? I bet you got more homework done in 10 minutes on those days than you did in an hour alone in your room at home. That’s the “body double” effect. So if you’re struggling with paperwork, ask for help. People will be more than happy to learn that “help” doesn’t demand any more than their presence.
If you struggle to complete your expense reports at work, I bet you’re not the only one. Find a partner, a “paperwork buddy”, who’s willing to complete his or her expense report at the same time as you. You and your body double can meet in your office or book a meeting room and each complete your own paperwork at the same time. You don’t need to talk, to help each other or even to be sitting next to each other.
If your work involves more substantial paperwork, such as maintaining case files, take a page from one of my clients. While she loved her job as a social worker, it was torture to update her weekly entries in her case files. Since no one becomes a social worker because they love filling out forms, sh e had little trouble finding a body double who looked forward to completing her case files with similar enthusiasm, ranking it right up there with a root canal as a pleasurable experience!
They chose one morning each week when they would get together, not conversing but simply working independently in each other’s presence, to complete their case files. Working with a body double proved so effective, they often finished their task, a task that had often meant bringing files home to complete over the weekend, by lunchtime, and so they decided they’d celebrate their success by ordering pizza for lunch!
So you can get a fantastic productivity boost using a body double, but if you want to show off your six-pack abs, you’re going to have to hit the gym! And maybe take it easy on the celebratory pizza lunches!
Linda Walker, PCC, ACCG, is a certified ADHD Coach who offers Thrive! “The Natural Approach to Optimal Focus and Effectiveness for Creative Geniuses (her name for ADHDers). More information can be found at http://totallyaddshop.com/products/thrive
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