Does working with a friend help ADHD productivity?
My friend Elizabeth and I discovered that we had similar difficulties getting focused on writing projects. We each had the finishing a particular written project, had our basic outlines done, but found ourselves reluctant to actually write. So I suggested that we make use of a tactic proven successful for many with ADHD: the Body Double. The way it works is that the stimulation of having a warm, breathing body in the room should make it more likely to focus.
However, the concept only works if the other person doesn’t distract with conversation.
Here’s what Elizabeth and I learned in our “body double” writing experience:
Starting the day with email means we never start work
Although we got together at 11:00 a.m., by 5:00 we were still dealing with email. In fact, being together compounded the problem. Now, in addition to my own email, I was also showing Elizabeth things I received, she was showing me YouTube clips from her friend, and no work was getting done at all.
Ground rules were needed for being in the same room
When we first decided to get off of email and sit together with our laptops, there was a lot of conversation and comments. Once I began trying to write, I’d get distracted hearing her comment… yet I was making my own remarks that threw her off track. So we finally decided to stop conversation — at least until we had each produced an a specific amount of work.
Separate rooms in the same house worked best
I found that Elizabeth’s presence in the next room helped me stay focused, as long as we had periodic check-ins. After all, we needed to make sure that we weren’t “cheating” by going on email, YouTube, or reading other social media.
Setting time goals helped us make progress.
Using a timer kept us more serious about staying on task. When one or the other of us started talking instead of writing, it just took a reminder of the time to get us back to work.
I won’t be able to work with a human body double in my office every day, but after seeing me work with Elizabeth, my cat, Polly, has applied for the job.