It’s very common for neurodivergent folks to have trouble staying attentive to a task that is not interesting to us. Even when we are trying to focus on the things we have to do, it can be hard to keep on-task.
Some of the most common concerns are issues like:
- You didn’t plan how to approach the project, so now it’s hard to find a place to start.
- You didn’t consider how much time the project will take, or have under- or overestimated how long it will take (sometimes drastically!).
- You got started and then forgot what your goal was.
- You got started and then got distracted with some other task.
- You got started and then got frustrated, and weren’t able to talk yourself into persisting with the project.
Having an activity partner or body double nearby can help with all of these situations.
What Is An Activity Partner?
You may have heard of an activity partner before; this person can also be called an activity buddy, a shadow, or a body double. The activity partner is another person whom you have with you while you perform your task.
How you use body doubling is up to you. In most cases, your partner can sit with you quietly, perhaps reading or working on their own task while you work on yours. I’ve also had success having a partner “be” with me over the phone or over video on the computer, if they’re unable to be in the same space with me. Ideally, your partner will be able to see and/or hear you for the majority of the time you’ve devoted to your project.
Sometimes, it’s more helpful for a partner to be more active in supporting you through your task. They can offer physical or verbal reminders of your intentions and goals, help you talk through a problem, or split the task with you to make it go faster. This will all depend on what you are trying to do and where you need the most support. Autistic and ADHD folks can often use someone else to support executive functioning, processing information, and just to bounce ideas off of.