Where/how can I find a virtual body-double for productivity?
June 15, 2018 12:25 PM   Subscribe

I have deadlines coming up. Mulling over the idea of looking for a virtual/online body double, but does this service exist yet? How can I find one?

The original concept of a body double for productivity was someone who can be there with you in person, whose physical presence motivates you and holds you accountable for getting work done. I'm wondering if a virtual/online body double might work as well - someone who, say, stays on a Skype/Discord call with you for x amount of time, whose constant virtual/online/audio presence motivates you to get computer-based work done. I googled around, and looked on Fiverr, etc, but it seems the closest I can find to something like that are life coaches - which isn't quite the same.
posted by aielen to Work & Money (9 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This sounds like something that could be real metafiltery in practice, and I bet you'd find someone interested if you posted over on Jobs or even started a metatalk thread about it!
posted by phunniemee at 12:39 PM on June 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

It's not a professional coach situation, but it seems like focusmate might work for you. I haven't used it, but I think it sets you up with an accountability partner.
posted by Kriesa at 12:49 PM on June 15, 2018 [5 favorites]

I have asked people in my life to be in a room with me while I worked on a particular task. I didn't know this had a name! It is extremely helpful. Is there a friend or family member you could ask for help from for specific tasks for a limited amount of time?
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 1:29 PM on June 15, 2018

This might not help you with the immediate deadlines, but I have found co-working great for this - the people I share the office with don't necessarily know the full details of what I'm doing, but I'll say to one of them "right, I'm going to get X thing done in the next X time" and I'll then report back to them at the end of that time and they are allowed to chide me if I haven't done it.

So if you currently work alone, perhaps investigate (quiet) shared spaces? Or for a virtual solution, a friend who has a job that will allow them to stay on Skype and check in with you from time to time?
posted by altolinguistic at 2:15 PM on June 15, 2018

Best answer: I also ask my friends/family to do this with me and just call it study hall. If we can't be in the same room, we'll do regular breaks and text each other reports on any progress (or the embarrassing lack thereof) every hour or two.
posted by snaw at 3:04 PM on June 15, 2018

Best answer: I am a professional organizer and body double, but IANYPO/IANYBD. (Well, as far as I know.) The service is one that professional organizers perform in-person all the time; many of us do this virtually. Professional organizers, particularly my friend and colleague Judith Kolberg (author of Conquering Chronic Disorganization and ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life and founder of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization), invented and developed the term "body doubling" with regard to productivity issues in the 1980s.

I would not necessarily recommend engaging the services of someone on Fiver unless this is only a very occasional need; you may find that what you want is someone to body-double you but also provide some guiding suggestions periodically through the session, and IMHO, you want someone who has education and expertise in the psychology of productivity.

I suggest you search for one or more of my colleagues in either of two organizations. There's NAPO (the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals). Use the search function and select (under Business and/or Residential) the options for "Virtual Organizing and Productivity" -- and even though it's virtual, you might want to start with a radius of a closer distance (50 miles vs. 500) to your home, in case you might want to opt, later, for some in-person guidance. When choosing among your options, you may particularly want to look for someone who is a Certified Professional Organizer (CPO®) and/or in Golden Circle (a veteran) and/or someone who has been in the profession 5+ years. (Virtual assistance, including body doubling, takes experience. It looks passive, but it really isn't.) I've written a lot on AskMe over the years about what POs can do and how to find one, but if you'd like help narrowing down what you need, please feel free to MeMail me.

If you have ADHD or any executive function disorders, you may want to do a search of the subscribers (their term for members) of our associated educational organization, the
Body doubling is more than having a warm body just sitting there. Much of the time it can just be that, and that's a fine place to start, but working with a professional can even help you identify the type of body double situation with a friend/family member/colleague/coffeehouse patron might be helpful on a more daily basis.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Good luck for achieving your productivity goals!

posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 4:22 PM on June 15, 2018 [11 favorites]

Best answer: I've known people who hold co-working Twitch/Youtube livestreams for this kinda thing.
posted by divabat at 9:50 PM on June 15, 2018

Wouldn’t the easiest thing be to go and do your work in a library?
posted by Middlemarch at 6:09 AM on June 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: thanks for the answers! I've marked those that I either implemented/took action on or might implement in future.
posted by aielen at 11:19 AM on June 17, 2018

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