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Designed to Work - Name Change and Body Doubling

I’m changing this around a bit
Hi! You probably signed up for this little email list when I was calling it Desq Tips. You also probably haven’t seen any tips for a few weeks. That’s because I haven’t put any out. I was struggling.
It wasn’t even the writing, really. I’ve been in a bit of a slump, but I still have a few tips ready to go. I already think a lot about workspace set up, so it’s natural for me to write about it. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something deeper to the idea than just talking about neat desk accessories.
Then, I talked to my partner about it. They helped me come up with a much better concept: Designed to Work.
What’s Designed to Work?
Fundamentally I’m not changing the formula all that much. I still want to publish short but insightful tips about working better.
What is changing is the scope. As this pandemic drags on, I’ve had a lot of time to think about “work”. My partner was recently diagnosed with ADHD, we both suffer from some repetitive stress injuries, and we’re both untangling ourselves from very toxic work environments. The last few months especially have been a lot of reflection and learning.
Modern work assumes everyone is this platonic ideal of a worker, perfectly able to mentally and physically complete tasks. Anything else is chalked up to laziness.
It’s a system that is completely out of touch with the reality of modern workers. With us. Even abled, neurotypical people buckle under the weight of that ideal, and any neurodiverse or disabled people simply don’t compute.
It’s a system that could be designed better. And I want to talk about how. Hence, Designed to Work.
I’ll be welcoming some collaborators to this little project including my partner, so it’s not just a one person show anymore. But I think that’s for the best. I want this to be a real resource, and I don’t think it would be responsible of me to try to do that all on my own.
With that said, if this idea strikes a cord with you, let me know! I’d love to hear ways you’ve managed to succeed in modern work culture, especially if you belong to any kind of marginalized group.
A tip you can use — Body Doubling
I wouldn’t just send an email without including a tip for you!
I was reading Julian Shapiro (a pretty big name amongst marketing Twitter) talk about how one of his favorite methods of getting things done is sync sessions.
Julian Shapiro
Part 3: Sync sessions

Sync sessions can be huge for overcoming procrastination.

A sync session is a Zoom call where you and a friend work on your projects at the same time.

Throughout the session, you keep your video off and you mute yourself.
This has another name actually, and it’s extremely helpful for people with ADHD. It’s called body doubling.
The idea behind it (whether you’re neurodiverse or neurotypical) is to work nearby someone and have some scheduled check-ins at the beginning, mid, and end points of the work time. You and your body double don’t have to be working on the same project at all, but it can help if your body double is someone with some experience in what you’re working on so they can better understand what you’re doing.
It seems to work surprisingly well. In cases of ADHD, Linda Anderson theorizes it does 3 things:
  • The body double grounds you, bringing more accountability
  • The body double provides a physical example of what you should be doing, helping with focus
  • The body double helps direct your energy towards the what’s happening immediately rather than things on the periphery
Julian adds a fourth possibility:
  • The body double brings a sense of camaraderie when it comes to getting through your tasks. Things are less daunting when you’re doing it with someone (even if you’re working on totally different projects).
Whatever the case, it’s worth a shot whether you have ADHD or not. Give it a try next time you want to power through a project and let me know how it goes!
This the power of not just trying to accommodate neurodiverse people into existing systems, but actually redesigning work from the ground up. You end up discovering better ways to work for everyone.
That’s Designed to Work 😉
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