by Sheryl Richardson
This time last year, I had my typical intentions for more productivity and success. A new year makes goals seem more achievable, and motivation feels strong enough to sustain the effort needed to reach them.
Can New Year’s Resolutions Work?
For New Year’s resolutions, the stats are not in our favor. Most people fall off of their goals by February. With ADHD, it could be sooner.
I struggle with focus and time management. By March, 2020, my enthusiasm was long gone and I had little to show for my efforts to that point. At that time, businesses and schools were shutting down; uncertainty and disruptions were impacting us. I was without a job, and I was homebound. (Confession: it was not a good job for me, and I love being home.) I had more time, but that didn’t mean I knew how to manage it. But I recognized the opportunity. Now I had time to understand why I kept repeating cycles of hope followed by defeat. Mainstream approaches didn’t work with me, and now I could explore new options.
How I Discovered Body Doubling
I joined ADDA a few months earlier during ADHD Awareness Month. But I never looked at what they offered. I found the Productivity Powerhour+ support group. This was my introduction to body doubling. That’s where you join with others to complete tasks. I realized I had benefitted from this concept many times before in person. I just didn’t have a name for it, or the awareness to do it with intention. Body Doubling may also be called focus sessions, side-by-side, study hall, or co-working.
How Does Body Doubling Work?
In ADDA’s weekly Productivity Powerhour+ group, we have three rounds of 25-minute work sessions with 5-minute breaks. This is the Pomodoro Technique. You can adjust work and break intervals. Attending these weekly sessions kick-started a serious decluttering project I had forever procrastinated. Connecting to this ADDA group on Zoom energized me even though I was alone in my house. I made amazing progress organizing closets and tossing and donating fabric and craft items from my sewing room.
I visited other ADDA support groups for work and accountability. The topic of body doubling came up often. Most who tried it were thrilled with what they accomplished.
But What Can You Do with a Body Double?
What happens in a body double session? Folks do a wide variety of personal or work tasks. They respond to email. They pay bills. Some study for class or prepare presentations. They file insurance claims and do estate planning. Some write blog posts or articles. I’ve updated my resume and cleaned closets, rooms and the garage. Some clean the kitchen or do food prep. It’s a great time to write thank you or holiday cards. The list goes on and on. Sessions can be organized with Zoom, Google Meet, Facebook rooms or other virtual platforms. You can set it up on your own with a friend or colleague or join an organized or informal group. There are free and paid services, such as focusmate.com, as well as gatherings within ADDA or offered by other individuals or groups.
You Can Find What Works for You
I tried all I could find. I found some sessions too long. I found others too short. Some groups were too social. Others were too impersonal. Many were too distracting with movements and microphones not muted or too many participants. Some were too late in the day. Others too early. By trying many, I found what works best for me. I start each weekday morning at 10 with a small group of ADDA member “body doublers.” We work one or more hours. Participants drop in and exit as needed. We often get into a flow and extend the time or set up another session. Consistent accountability provides structure. I am learning to better manage my time, and I am getting more focused. I get more done, and I have camaraderie and support.
I Know, Because I Found What Works for Me
I usually start a session with about 10 minutes of quick tasks like emails, phone calls, and calendar updates. Then I am ready for more focused work for about 30-40 minutes. A highlight for me was when I used body doubling sessions to apply for a job. When I received a call about the position, I felt confident and my voice was strong. I attribute that to having just completed a focused session with supportive peers. If I had been working in isolation, my doubting inner dialogue would have taken some enthusiasm away from that call.
Try It, You’ll Like It
What have you been putting off or would like to do? Try body doubling! Try it at different times of day. Try it for varying durations. You’ll discover if it is an effective strategy for you. If you don’t know where to begin, use the session to make a list of possibilities. Then, start with a small task to create momentum. Two options to try right away are with focusmate.com and ADDA’s Productivity Powerhour+ group on Wednesday evenings.
After years of struggling, trying to figure things out on my own, ADDA gave me resources that help me understand and accept how my quirky brain works. No matter what my goals are, better focus and time management are key to inching forward. Now, midway through January, I am hopeful about my goals, this time fueled with knowledge and successful experiences from 2020.
Whether your goals are for the New Year, for after the pandemic, or simply from this day forward, ADDA can help you discover connections, support, and strategies for better days and better years.
Everything You Need to Get Started
For specifics on ADDA support groups, look here:
For ideas about focused work sessions (body doubling) and goal setting, you may be interested in these webinars:
Sheryl Richardson, ADDA Member and Volunteer. Atlanta, Georgia