Hack Your Focus With Body Doubling
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When I first started writing, I used to endlessly procrastinate, taking months to write a single piece. I would put writing sessions in my calendar, and then end up in my inbox, reading the news, or doing menial admin tasks—anything but writing.
In a distracted world, the ability to consistently do deep work is a competitive advantage.
It's impossible to create meaningful works of tech, writing, or art without the capacity to sit down and focus for extended periods. And yet, many of us struggle to do so.
This issue often comes up in my work with founders. At the early stage, entrepreneurs are especially susceptible to distraction, as they don’t yet have customers and employees to keep them accountable. As a company grows, focused time often falls by the wayside in the face of emails, Slack messages, and meetings.
When the device we use for deep work is also the place where we access YouTube, Slack, Twitter (now X), email, and Netflix, it's no wonder we end up distracted. How are we to stay on track when our intention is to sit down at a screen and create something new?
Over time, I found a potent strategy for attaining focus amid distractions: body doubling. This productivity technique is highly effective, yet widely underutilized. After 18 months of body doubling, I can now put out a draft in 1-2 weeks—and writing is no longer a struggle.
Body doubling is both a form of accountability and a tool for increasing grit in the face of challenging tasks we tend to avoid. At its most basic, it means having someone next to you—a “body double”—as you work on difficult tasks.
Productivity is often a game of emotion regulation—we avoid tasks because they bring up difficult emotions, like fear, shame, or uncertainty. Body doubling is a simple and powerful way to stay on track when challenges arise and our emotional response is to seek distraction.
We all have important things that we find it hard to make time for (or outright avoid). If you learn to use it well, body doubling can become your secret weapon—a way to consistently perform in any area that brings up avoidance and procrastination.
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The case for body doubling
In his book The Now Habit, psychologist Neil Fiore writes that a primary reason we procrastinate is because as humans, we are social beings, but focused work requires quiet time alone. If our social and play needs aren’t being met, sitting down to work on a task by oneself can be highly aversive.
Moreover, as mentioned above, we tend to procrastinate on tasks that bring up difficult emotions, like fear, pressure, or self-doubt. When a task is aversive and being alone is also aversive, it’s no wonder we end up seeking relief by switching over to email, Twitter/X, or Slack.
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Casey Rosengren is a founder and executive coach based in New York. If you’d like to learn more about ACT and values-oriented coaching, drop him a note—or follow him on Every to get early access to workshops and retreats: