By Jeff Copper, MBA, PCC, PCAC, CPCC, ACG – December 4, 2023
If you have ADHD, do you have trouble getting started? Sometimes that looks like procrastination or a lack of motivation. Have you considered a body double? Most of us think of body doubles in terms of stand-ins or stunt actors in movies or on television. I think it’s an valuable concept as a strategy to help those with ADHD.
It’s been shown that those with ADHD do quite well when they have someone to do things with. It’s not someone doing things for them, but rather helping them initiate a task to get it going, to keep it interesting enough, motivating enough, fun enough, or even just for the accountability of it. Having someone else in the room can be helpful, especially when facing a difficult task.
With ADHD, sticking to a task can be difficult because impulses and distractions grab their attention and pull them away from the purpose at hand. This can result in problems at home, in school, or at work. The body double concept is effective because the presence of another person acts as motivation to stay focused even if there’s no interaction between them.
If you need more discipline or motivation to accomplish your daily tasks or a to-do list, watch my interview with Elaine Taylor-Klaus (https://impactparents.com) to see how she uses the concept in her coaching practice and in her family. http://youtu.be/wCEOf_0iHhg
eff Copper: Welcome everybody to this edition of Attention Talk Video. I’m your host, attention coach, Jeff Copper. And I’m here with Elaine Taylor-Klaus from ImpactADHD. Elaine, welcome to the show.
Elaine Taylor-Klaus: Thank you. It’s good to be here. Body double.
Jeff Copper: That’s right. Thank you very much. It’s a good thing I had a body double to remember this was about a body double. Our concept today and our tip is talking about body doubles for those with ADHD. Can you explain the concept a little bit to our viewers?
Elaine Taylor-Klaus: Sure. So the concept of the body double is that, sometimes with people with ADHD do really well when they have somebody else to do something with. So it’s not necessarily somebody doing something for them, but to initiate a task to get going, to keep it interesting enough, motivating enough, fun enough, or even just the accountability of it, having somebody else with them to do it can be really helpful.
Jeff Copper: I want to emphasize this. We’re talking about kids in your context, because that’s what you work with. But I can’t tell you how many times I’m coaching adults on procrastination, and I’ll say, “Okay, tell you what. Come in next week and tell me about observe things that you procrastinated on. And I’ll listen to them, and I’ll listen to what’s the same.” And there’s different characters. People procrastinate, they’ve got to confront somebody, if they’re not sure what to do. But one thing that’s common, if it’s repetitive, boring routine. And when they identify that, I’ll go, “Tell me about a time…” Let’s say you didn’t clean out the garage. I’ll say, “Tell me about a time that you did.” And it’s funny, because as I listen to the story, I compare what was different about the time they could not, and invariably, they cleaned the garage with somebody else.
So then, I’ll say, “Let’s come up with an experiment and go run it, but do it with somebody.” And I’ve had people where they were trying to do medical school applications like, “Go get somebody just to sit in the room with you.” And we run the experiment, and they come back. And if they can do it, I said, “Hey, I think we’re onto something.” And I’m just verifying that, in my experience, a lot of times, a body double can be very powerful for those with ADHD. They don’t have to do it with them. It’s just having somebody in the room. It’s stimulating. It has this accountability and enables them to go forward.
Elaine Taylor-Klaus: That’s right.
Jeff Copper: And you had a story, a comment you wanted to add?
Elaine Taylor-Klaus: I have so many stories, because it’s such an effective… I was thinking about my child when we started this conversation, but I just want to tell you really quickly a funny adult story. Is that okay?
Jeff Copper: Yep.
Elaine Taylor-Klaus: So my husband and I had moved into a house that we built now 16 years ago. And we had been in the house for 10 years. 10 years. Saying “We’re going to get to that work bench in the basement.” 10 years. And we never did it. And it was always on the list. It was always procrastinated. And finally, I got into ADD coaching. I learned about the body double. I challenged him with, “Let’s just try it.” We went downstairs together, one hour.
Jeff Copper: And done.
Elaine Taylor-Klaus: One hour. It was all done. It was unbelievable. And all it took was the two of us both committing at the same time to be in the same place.
Jeff Copper: And it’s funny, because I actually, I remember a guy that I was coaching talking about body double, he taxes, boring routine, whatever. And he threw a tax party.
Elaine Taylor-Klaus: I love it.
Jeff Copper: Gets a keg of beer. He’s in his thirties. And he was behind like four or five years. Puts some AC/DC music on, divides up some tables, and puts the stuff out, so that everybody can’t see all of his financial records. And literally, he was having this party, and it’s not quite the same as a body double, but having the company that, but enabled him to kind of move forward on something that he couldn’t necessarily do in a very social manner. And that’s one of the things is, if you think in terms of body double and you think of, what would a solution look like, like that? Whether you’re scheduling time with your spouse or working with your kids or trying to do your taxes, it’s amazing what you can get done just with other people in the room.
Elaine Taylor-Klaus: It is. Well, let me tell you how I deal with it with my kids. I have a teenager, I have several teenagers, but I have a teenage daughter who does really well with this concept. And what I finally figured out is, in the evenings, when she’s got homework to do, if I have homework to do, and I own my own business, so I often have homework to do, I invite her into my office. And so, she’s at that desk, and I’m at this desk. And we do our homework together. And it’s not that we’re doing anything with each other, but just being in the space with me enables her to really get a much more efficient use of time. And occasionally, I’ll look up and say, “Are you on task?” Or sometimes she’ll look up and ask me if I’m on task, but it’s really effective. And she loves it, because it’s time with me, even though she’s doing her homework.
Jeff Copper: Translation, Elaine needs to get some work done, so she brings her daughter in so she can get it done. So there you have the real inside scoop. So Elaine, our listeners, if you want to learn more about Elaine, go to ImpactADHD.com. And Elaine, welcome. Thanks for coming on the show.
Elaine Taylor-Klaus: You’re very welcome.
Jeff Copper: All right, take care everybody.