In May, I wrote a post about responsible partners that seemed to resonate with freelancers. Several of them contacted me to ask if I knew anyone looking for a partner and if AHCJ had any way of finding people. At the moment, the organization does not.
However, there is another type of partnership that freelancers can use to help each other stay focused and productive at work: body mirroring.
What is body duplication?
Unlike responsible partners, who meet periodically for limited periods to listen and offer support, body doubles work silently online via video link. Working alongside another person, even virtually, can help you stay motivated.
Tara Haelle, Health Beat leader of AHCJ medical studies, introduced me to the concept. Haelle, who lives in Texas, bodymates with a friend in Seattle regularly.
“I have a recurring/permanent Zoom link specifically for body doubling,” he said. “Interestingly, I was reading a romance novel a while back, and the best friends in the book did the same thing.”
Haelle uses body voice over not only for her journalistic work, but also for everyday tasks like cooking or packing for a trip.
Freelance medical writer and editor Erin L. Boyle also wears a body double. They meet once a week via video chat on the same day, at the same time. They spend a few minutes discussing their writing and then get down to business.
“During this time, we work on whatever projects we currently have,” Boyle said.
When the timer goes off, they stop writing and talk about what they just wrote. They end up discussing what they will work on before their next meeting and hold each other accountable by checking in during the week and on top of next week’s call.
Body Duplication Benefits
“Having time scheduled on the calendar where I know we will meet is invaluable,” Boyle said. “Knowing that I am accountable to her and what I promise to do over the next week helps me stay focused.” Boyle called the meetings “the highlight of my week.”
Body duplication can help in several ways. “Often people know what they need to do but have trouble getting started,” said Tasha Chemel, executive functions coach. health line. “Having a designated time to start and having the visual cue of someone else working can be helpful.”
It can also help people stay motivated. “Humans are social animals,” Chemel told Healthline. “Having someone else around can make a boring or tedious task more fun.” It can also help someone avoid frustration and anxiety when faced with difficult or complex tasks, she said.
Body mirroring has become popular through ADHD self-help groups and is recommended by many ADHD coaches.
“My ADHD training clients find that (body mirroring) really helps their productivity,” ADHD coach Roxanne Fouche told Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). “It helps them set priorities, break down a chosen project/goal into what can be accomplished in 50 minutes, commit to a particular task or tasks, and then have the accountability to work towards their goals.”
find a body double
To find a body double, you can ask a friend or colleague. Or, if you don’t want to commit, you can hang out at a coffee shop or library where other people write and work.
Although I’ve never heard of the term body duplication before, apparently I’ve been doing it for years. I belong to the New York Library Society, which has a writers’ room. I can’t make phone calls for interviews there, but I can set up my laptop when I’m in the writing stage and get inspired by the diligent writers around me.
There are also various body mirroring platforms or apps that offer sessions or will pair you up with a partner. One caveat: I haven’t tried them. Most require payment but offer free trials. They include:
You can also find body dubbing sessions on TikTok.