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Idea Box

Go find yourself a double

A stressed female student asked her mother to come and sit with her while she worked. She didn’t want her mum to try to help her, but just to be physically present, doing her own thing as long as she stayed by her side. What a blessing this silent presence can be!

The idea of having a double – physical or virtual – was first trialed as a strategy to help people with ADHD before being extended to anyone who needs to complete a specific task. And it works! But how?

  • You feel less isolated, and if your double is calm, they will have a calming effect on you.
  • You feel duty-bound to work when you have someone working alongside you.

And the virtual version performs just as well! It can be over video with each person working in front of their own screen. If you want to reap all the benefits of this approach, then do the following:

  • Set up a block of time in your diary with your double (a colleague, friend, family member or someone else).
  • Agree on a few operating procedures: will you take breaks? Can you interrupt your double and ask them for help? If something urgent comes up, how will you handle it?
  • Share what you intend to accomplish at the start of the session, such as “I have to write a 1,500-word article”.
  • When the time is up, take stock of what you have achieved.

So, have you wrapped up what you were working on?

To go further

Feeling Disengaged at Work? Find Someone to Hold You Accountable

by Deborah Grayson Riegel, (Harvard Business Review, January 31 2022).

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Florence Meyer
Published by Florence Meyer
Executive coach, change management expert, and author. Constantly on the lookout for the latest management and leadership trends.