The “body double” is a tool that has helped many individuals with ADHD (and probably many neurotypical folks, as well).

To the best of my knowledge, it was coach Linda Anderson who first adopted the term “body double” to describe a situation in which simply having another person working quietly nearby helps an individual stay focused on his or her intended task. Have you ever experienced this phenomenon?

The other individual, the body double, does not need to interact with you to provide the body double benefit. They just need to be nearby, even if only virtually, working on their own task or simply reading a book and not paying any particular attention to you. Their mere presence can help you focus.

The effect of this phenomenon will often be increased when you have the opportunity to tell the other person what you will be working on. This increase is likely due to the added element of felt accountability.

On the other hand, revealing what you are working on is not required for you to reap significant benefits from this tool. Some people use it by simply taking their work to a coffee shop where there are others working nearby.  I had a client creatively use it quite effectively by imagining a certain relative was visiting and “asking” that relative to sit down and be quiet while this client proceeded to complete a challenging task.

Whatever the situation, the presence of the other individual seems to create an environment in which you are able to focus and accomplish your goals.

When you are setting up a body double partner, look for a person who can sit quietly, perhaps reading or working silently on a computer. If you don’t have such a person handy, you might consider hiring a student or even finding such a person online by using a service such as Focusmate ( which works beautifully for thousands of people around the world.

The body double is just one more tool to add to your toolkit to support you in making your life more productive and satisfying.

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