Podcasting tasks can be lonely and make you feel discouraged. One way to combat this is to get other people to work with you. No, not getting someone to work “for” you, but using a phenomenon called body doubling. It sounds like something out of a Cronenberg movie, but it can help you do more. It’s as simple as working around other people.
An obvious way to try out body doubling is to rent desk space in a physical co-working environment, but this can be expensive. Plus, it’s hard to come by if you don’t live in a major city. Fortunately, there are online co-working systems that can help. I’ve tried one of them, Flow Club, and I’m happy to say it’s exceeded my expectations. Let me show you how body doubling with Flow Club can help you achieve more with your podcast.
What Is Body Doubling, and How Does It Affect Productivity?
Essentially, you work in parallel alongside others for a set amount of time. You’re aware of the intentions of others, and they’re aware of yours. There’s an informal agreement that you’ll all try to complete tasks within that time while being a body double for the other.
People who study ADHD note that this method helps with attention, focus, initiating tasks and following through to completion. The evidence is anecdotal. Body doubling could be effective because companionship boosts dopamine. It could also be mirror neurons affecting cognition (or, as they say, monkey see, monkey do). There’s also the fact that you’re unlikely to be checking Twitter on your phone every five minutes when there’s someone there to call you out on it.
Since the method costs little, experts treat it with a “try it and see what happens” approach.
The good news is that you don’t have to have ADHD to benefit from body doubling. If you’ve ever cringed when you see someone slip on an icy sidewalk, chances are pretty good that body doubling can help you start, stick to, and finish your tasks.
Virtual Body Doubling: Like A Zoom Meeting, But Quiet
With online body doubling, you don’t have to deal with other people in the same physical space. Like-minded people can meet over Zoom or another virtual conferencing site. Since the work-from-home shift in 2020, virtual co-working spaces have grown. Focusmate, Caveday, Flow Club, and many more are the best-kept secret among freelancers and other people who work from home. You can benefit from pre-recorded videos of people engaged in deep work, even when they’re animated.
How Can Virtual Co-Working Be Effective For Podcasters?
To paraphrase Jack Kerouac, it ain’t whatcha do, it’s the way atcha do it— — just like everything else in podcasting. True, you may be spending time doing tasks requiring sound, such as editing or even recording. But mics are muted for work sessions, and most people work with headphones. My experience stems from using Flow Club; that’s my frame of reference. Your experience may vary (that’s what free trials are for). What makes virtual co-working a success are accountability, commitment, and a web browser with a camera.
Video and Productivity
Let me get this one out of the way first. Honestly, I hate being on camera for any length of time. Flow Club doesn’t require you to keep your camera on. Most virtual co-working spaces say that seeing other people in your work session is crucial to body doubling’s effectiveness. Since I started using Flow Club, my hatred of being on camera has diminished, and I feel like it’s essential for body doubling to work. At least once, I’ve looked up from work and seen that everyone else in the work session had their cameras turned off. It felt like a letdown. Say what you will about Foucault’s panopticism; seeing everyone else in the work session makes you feel like you’re all in this together.
Accountability To Colleagues
Although participants can come and go as they please, scheduling in advance and meeting that appointment makes a difference. Nobody finds time to podcast; they have to make it. Scheduling is part of that process. Flow Club can link to your preferred calendar app, so you have reminders for flow sessions, just like work meetings or doctor’s appointments. This makes you take it more seriously. Although you can always cancel, the extra step of ticking off a box explaining why you’re cancelling makes you aware of honoring commitments.
Commitment To Goals
There is no reason that I can’t show up to a Flow Club session and then sit at my desk and play Crash Bandicoot for an hour. But, at the beginning of each session, participants are expected to say (or type into the chat) what they plan to achieve during that session. Setting your intentions sounds a bit woo-woo, but setting goals works. At the end of the discussion, everyone says how the session went for them.
So, for example, if you know you need to edit the audio for your next episode, you change the audio input for your headphones to match your editing software or app and keep a window open for the rest of the work session. These work sessions are a terrific time for planning, promoting or improving your podcast. I recorded during a Flow Club session once. Because the mic was muted in the Flow Club interface, and I listed “record samples for article” in my goals, nobody batted an eye. We were all working; it was still body doubling.
Use Body Doubling to Improve Your Podcast Workflow
Setting an appointment for your podcasting work sessions helps keep other things from getting in your way. When others also work toward their goals, it feels natural to fall into good work habits.
Like dressing for the job you want or taking superhero poses to feel powerful, body doubling is one of those things where you put your body in the space and attitude you want to inhabit, and your mind will follow.