Some readers are already familiar with body doubling and its outsized effect on decluttering. Others may ask, “What in the world is a body double? Is it like a stunt double?”
I was in the latter camp when I opened my organizing business in 2015. How could the simple act of quietly sitting in a room and reading a book or playing on one’s phone help another person tackle an arduous task more easily? The concept seemed too magical to be true. Yet, time and again, I have witnessed this tactic’s quiet effectiveness.
Body doubling is a strategy that you can employ to gain traction on tasks. It is most beneficial for onerous jobs that feel as if they take Herculean strength to start. It could be decluttering and organizing, bill paying, laundry, cleaning, you name it.
How it Works
Instead of white knuckling it through an arduous task, ask a friend or loved one to body double for you. They will bring a book, magazine, or something to keep them quietly occupied during the scheduled date and time. Believe it or not, your focus on that onerous task will increase, and it might even become effortless. Your guest does not need to say anything at all. Their presence alone reminds you to continue working on your specified task. You can also use this strategy via video or phone.
Body-Doubling in the Field
Clients frequently remark how much they get done when I work with them. Access to my guidance and organizing knowledge are significant pieces of the puzzle, but body doubling is often in effect as well. I might be working on an entirely different organizing task than a client, but as long as I am there, they more easily focus on their own organizing task.
This effect happens during virtual organizing sessions as well. From my office, I might research a product or potential price range for one of their discards. Simultaneously, from their home, they sort items into categories. They stay on task even without my prompting because of the body-doubling effect.
Many professional organizers and coaches in the ADHD community have used the body doubling technique for many years. I have recommended a few body doubling companies to clients so they can more easily declutter between our sessions. This practice saves them money and, more importantly, gives them a chance to practice their newly learned skills. They can continue using the skills long after we complete the organizing project. The tactic is successful enough to have gained increasing mainstream media exposure.
Give it a Go
The next time you find yourself procrastinating on that much-dreaded task, contact a friend or loved one. Ask them to body double with you for your most demanding jobs, such as filing papers, paying bills, purging extraneous objects, or paying taxes. I would guess that they have dreaded tasks of their own. You can body double with each other and share the joy and satisfaction of hitting those targets together!
Author: Judith Dold
Musings from yours truly about all things organizing.