Could a ‘Body Double’ Help You Complete Money Tasks?

Body doubling is gaining popularity outside the ADHD community. Here are some guidelines to body double safely.
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Written by Kimberly Palmer
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The term “body doubling” might make you think of someone completing a task for you, like a stand-in who does stunts for an actor, but it actually refers to using someone else’s presence to help you focus on your own task.

While the technique has been used for years among people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, financial experts say that people outside of the ADHD community can also find body doubling helpful to get money tasks done, especially if they are struggling to get started or remain focused.

You could dial into a video conference filled with strangers while you revamp your budget on your own, or you could sit with your partner while you pay bills or organize receipts.

“The social presence of somebody doing a task with you makes you feel like you’re not alone and allows you to get it done,” says Dave DeWitt, a certified financial planner who specializes in serving clients with ADHD. “It helps you feel supported,” he adds, especially when you’re working on something that can be overwhelming like financial to-dos.

“I use it all the time,” says Vanessa Dean, a money coach who specializes in serving clients with ADHD and also has ADHD herself. “It gives me something else to focus on and holds me accountable.” She adds that she often body doubles with her clients by sitting on Zoom with them while they organize their finances and budget.

If you want to give body doubling a try, financial experts suggest keeping the following guideposts in mind:

Pick a specific task to tackle

“The tasks I find tedious or boring are the ones I need to body double for,” says Ellyce Fulmore, a financial educator and author of “Keeping Finance Personal.” She incorporated the concept into her money coaching program by encouraging body doubling work at the end of group calls. Participants work on specific financial tasks at the same time, like adding expenses to a budget, filing taxes or logging in to financial accounts, with cameras on or off.

“Body doubling can help with motivation,” Fulmore explains. “It can create a sense of pressure and can also help regulate your nervous system,” especially if the other people aren’t stressed out or avoiding the task, which can have a calming effect, she adds.

Christine Hargrove, a researcher and clinician who specializes in financial therapy and ADHD treatment in Athens, Georgia, says she’s had clients find body doubling helpful when they fill out financial aid forms like the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. “The emotional availability, the physical presence, a little background noise — it helps them get in the zone where they can do it,” she says, even if it’s just working in the presence of a roommate.

(Kimberly Palmer tried out body doubling for herself. Find out what she learned.)

Find the method that works best for you

Body doubling can take different forms, Hargrove says. Some people might prefer a silent partner who’s doing an unrelated task, like folding laundry, while others might prefer a group setting of people focused on the same thing.

One easy way to try body doubling is to ask a friend to get on a video call with you where you both tackle tasks side by side without interaction, Hargrove adds. “Just make sure you’re both going to do it and not chitchat,” she says.

Fulmore says she prefers body doubling with a friend or at a coffee shop versus a group of strangers on a video call. “As you try out different things, you’ll get a better sense of what works well for you,” she says. “If you know you need to focus with complete quiet, then you might not want to body double with someone who is chatty.”

Set time limits and give yourself breaks

Even while body doubling, it’s important to give yourself breaks, DeWitt says. He suggests working for 25 minutes then giving yourself a 10-minute breather. “That gives you time to decompress and see how much you got done and how much more you need to do,” he adds.

Many of the paid body doubling apps that organize group video calls, such as Flow Club, Focused Space or, encourage time limits and breaks, DeWitt says.

Keep financial details private

Body doubling doesn’t mean sacrificing privacy or security when it comes to your finances, Fulmore says. She suggests avoiding working on taxes in a public setting, logging in to financial accounts on public Wi-Fi, or sharing your screen while body doubling if it would reveal personal financial information.

As long as you follow those basic privacy guidelines, body doubling can be a safe and effective way to complete financial tasks, she adds. “It’s all about knowing how your brain works and finding a technique that matches up with that.”

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