Can This ADDer Be Saved? – Part 3

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Keeping Track to Focus Energy

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

*”Katy,” “Barb,” “Donna,” and the details of this story are a composite of the process and progress of several ADDers working with the author, to honor the confidentiality of the client/coach alignment and to better illustrate a sense of the ADD Coaching process.

As you learned in Part-2, Katy did something that is still rather unusual in the ADD world:

She called an ADD Coach immediately.

Katy had already learned a lot about ADD listening to her best friend Barb’s process since her diagnosis.  She just never imagined that any of her own struggles might be ADD-related.

She and Barb were so different.  SHE had always been so in-control and competent! Barb had always been the maverick — a free-wheeling spirit who never seemed to get it all together.

Still, the more Barb talked, that fateful day in the kitchen, the more she could see how similar differences might have different presentations.

Besides, Katy was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and was desperate for explanations, even though she was half afraid she would discover there were no answers.

If it worked for Barb . . .

Katy could really see the difference in Barb since she started working with her ADD Coach Donna.  Not only had Barb learned a great deal more about ADD, she was finally doing something other than dreaming about becoming a professional photographer – something Katy knew had been Barb’s dream goal since the two best-friends first met.

Donna helped Barb figure out what it would take, and then coached her through each of the steps on her road.

Barb hadn’t found her dream job yet, and she certainly isn’t pulling in a six-figure salary, but some of her photos were beginning to show up in print somewhere besides her basement studio.

Katy wanted the kind of focused guidance Barb had received prioritizing her inevitable next steps, without upsetting the tenuous control she exerted over the responsibilities she was juggling already.

Tracking in her Coaching Notebook

Donna, Katy’s ADD Coach (as well as Barb’s), requests that each of her clients immediately set up a coaching notebook: a three ringed binder with tabbed dividers, where they can securely “file” everything coaching-related in one easy-to-locate, easy-to-update, easy-to-grab location.

Tracking Works!

Katy discovered that it really helped to have something to refer to during her Coaching sessions, and that taking notes helped her to focus and remember the details of each session as well as her upcoming commitments.

She also adapted her Notebook as her coaching progressed, finally understanding the reason for those extra dividers her coach made her buy.  In addition to the start-up categories, Katy added several new sections:  “Barb,” “Easter Dinner,” “Kid’s Easter Baskets” “Guest Room Readiness,” and “Hotel Accommodations”

She added that last category because keeping up with the frequent changes from all of the relatives coming for the Easter Reunion she was hosting was making her nice, orderly “Guest Room Readiness” section too messy to be inspiring.

In a stroke of brilliance, she decided that the relatives who could afford to stay at a hotel would probably be happier having a place to escape the mayhem occasionally anyway (and it certainly made things a LOT less stressful for her!)

After taking advantage of Donna’s policy to discount or eliminate workshop fees for full-fee clients, she and her best friend and neighbor Barb decided to add a weekly peer coaching session to their professional Coaching.  Katy wanted to keep everything together so she could find it — made easier because she took the coaching to buy a notebook “in a color she liked but that didn’t go with the decorating scheme of the house.”  That deep purple binder stood out no matter where she left it!

Besides, somebody had to have ready access to the info – Barb certainly wasn’t likely to find her tattered, used-to-be-white notebook on demand! “That’s OK,” she told herself.  “Barb brings a lot of OTHER things to their peer coaching table, so if the notebook system is a struggle for her — oh, well!”

She also added a “Titration” section and kept the day-to-day tracking of her medication dosage, timing and measures of overall daily functioning on a form that came with her ADD coach’s Welcome materials.  She also took her notebook with her to appointments with her doctor, and only there did she remove the Self-Observation Log she kept while they were still “adjusting her meds.”

Barb told Katy that she was moving through the process in much less time than it took her to find her own appropriate medication schedule without the documentation.

But then, Katy was the one with hyper-organization proclivities, while Barb was always a “seat of the pants” gal.

“I might have lost the whole darned thing on the way to the appointment,” she chuckled, only half kidding, “So if I’d had a notebook and managed to keep a titration log, I SURE-as-shootin’ wouldn’t have trusted myself to take it on the road!

They laughed together at Donna’s description of ADDers as “ahistoric” —

“We could win the lottery on Monday, fall in love on Tuesday, get a new car on Wednesday, have a tough Thursday and get stuck in a major traffic jam on Friday, and our answer to, ‘How was your week?’ might be, ‘Lousy!’ on Friday night — unless we have a record of the details in black and white.”

They reminded each other that it was silly to expect “time off from ADD” just because an activity was “important!”  In fact, they learned, the more important something was, the more likely they were to be unable to remember it.  The ADD brain tends to boggle when the stakes are high.

Katy was a model client

She didn’t miss one of her regular, weekly coaching appointments.  She always used the 15 minutes before dialing to review her notebook and her agenda for the call (her Client Prep Form), which she had filled out and emailed to Donna the day before.

Even though she found that she was still at the level where she needed to do a more detailed list for herself before she could come up with the one-page format Donna required, she found that winnowing it down was really worth the extra time it took.

It forced her to focus on her own unrealistic expectations of what COULD be accomplished in any given time period, as well as keeping her eye on all the balls she needed to juggle.

She quickly incorporated the questions on that form into her day, as well as her report, essentially:

  • What I Have Accomplished
  • What I Meant To Accomplish But Didn’t Get To
  • Opportunities Available This Week
  • The Week’s Challenges
  • What I Want to Focus on TODAY, and
  • What I Will Do By The Next Call

She was beginning to feel as though Donna was one of her oldest friends.  She also found herself sharing items previously reserved for Barb and Paul alone, even though she’d never met Donna “in person.” That would soon change.  Katy and Barb planned to attend the national CH.A.D.D. convention in New York City, where they would attend Donna’s presentation and have coffee with her and some of her other clients.

Oh, did I mention Katy’s promotion?  Her boss moved to another firm, and Katy was tapped as her succesor.

And then there’s Barb

Seriously, as litttle as you know about either of these two women, do you think for one nano-second that Barb filled out a Client Prep form in advance?  Most weeks she didn’t fill it out AT ALL.  Barb needed Katy’s Peer Coaching to help her set up systems to dial in on time, most weeks.

BEING THERE is a struggle for Barb, simply because of her brand of ADD.  She has NO sense of time, and tends to get stuck in hyperfocus: hours flying by like seconds whenever she is working on anything that interests her. So almost every week both Donna and Katy make her repeat aloud, “Different strokes for different folks!”  

Those weeks she DID manage to get her Client Prep form filled in and sent on time didn’t garner the expected response either.

  • Great!  applauded Donna. What was different about THIS week that allowed you to handle this little piece of administrivia?
  • Remember, coaching homework is a Sherlocking tool, not a should.  We don’t have as much to Sherlock if you don’t do it, but WHY you didn’t do it – the functional stoppers – are much more important than THAT you didn’t do it.
  • AND . . . just because we figure out how to make it POSSIBLE  for you to fill it out every week, doesn’t change the fact that it’s YOUR life and YOUR choice about whether it’s worth your time and attention to do it.

Tears ran down Barb’s cheecks the first time she heard that point of view from Donna. Even once she got to the point where she knew exactly what Donna was likely to say, she still appreciated those reminders to STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP for being YOU!


Not on your life. That is, unless you mean that Donna’s approach with Barb “enabled” her to soar. You wouldn’t BELIEVE what that woman can accomplish when you don’t hold her feet to the fire.

Oh yeah, the house is still a mess and the kids had to learn to cook in self defense, but Barb is currently WAY too busy to focus on the small stuff: she is mounting her first one-woman show at a pretty impressive gallery.

No, she didn’t get THAT in the “usual” linear manner either.

She forgot to buy a birthday present for her son to take to the guest of honor, so she sent along a last-second replacement, hastily wrapped in acid-free tissue paper, spray-painted dog bones standing in for bows, dusted with glitter when the hair-dryer approach wasn’t working quickly enough.

What was it? Ahem! An amazing black and white photo she had taken of the birthday boy’s dogs overlooking the local dump.

Guess whose uncle owns the gallery?

JUST IN CASE you’re worried about Barb’s family, the oldest daughter is now taking cooking classes in preparation for her summer acceptance to a “real” chef school.  SHE is in charge of the food for her Mom’s show – her idea. Her son is keeping his Mom’s eye on the goal and serving as sounding board and cheerleader for his sister.  He organized a disabilities-focused peer-mentoring group at his school, and is thinking about becoming an ADD Coach.

Larry swings with whatever, as long as everybody’s happy.  And they are.  GLORIOUSLY happy, even though Barb has been a miserable failure losing that baby-weight.

She actually GAINED ten pounds during her daughter’s foray into French cuisine. (Butter!) Plans are in the works – after the opening – to change the family fare: her daughter wants to work her way through Oprah’s chef’s cookbook.


Would your progress be similar to Katy’s?  Probably not.  Barb’s wasn’t.  Even though they are best friends with a lot in common besides ADD, their coaching was designed for each of them particularly, also taking their Coach’s strengths and experience into account.

Also remember to factor in the additional activities that Katy needed to accommodate to keep the Easter family reunion on track, symptoms of her hyper-organized dervish nature, and about as different as you can get from Barb’s Holly Golightly approach to just about everything.

Just as no two therapists work exactly the same way, another ADD Coach may use different procedures, have different policies, send different forms, and guide you to approach your set of tasks in a slightly different order of priority.

As long as you are coachable (ready, willing and able to take the actions to move from where you are now to where you want to be), you will find that the services of any well-trained ADD Coach can provide a shortcut, whatever the particulars of the way each works.

There is no “right” way to Coach ADD, as long as your coach really knows ADD and doesn’t try to coach you with somebody else’s strategies, just as there is no “right” way to be a human being.

And while neither Barb nor Donna were able to explain exactly how to recognize good ADD Coaching, Katy came up with ten items that are important for her that she is willing to share with you. She suggests you keep interviewing until you can answer yes to each of the ten points in the following post.  (Barb says, “Interview, schminterview, go with your gut!”)

Still more to come in Katy and Barb’s story, so stay tuned! (see links to the other segments below)

As always, if you want notification of new articles in the Coaching Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too) STRICT No Spam Policy

If you’d like some one-on-one (or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this article (either for your own life, that of a loved one, or as coaching skills development), click the E-me link <—here (or on the menubar at the top of every page) and I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

Can this ADDer be Saved?
(Entire coaching story, illustrating how coaching works in narrative format)

Related Articles on

Assorted articles about ADD and ADDCoach Concepts:

A few Articles in the Attention series:

More from the ADD Coaching series:

Related articles ’round the ‘net

BY THE WAY: I revisit all my content periodically to update links — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from.

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

6 Responses to Can This ADDer Be Saved? – Part 3

  1. Pingback: Flashback: Can This ADDer Be Saved? – Part 2 | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  2. Pingback: Flashback: Can This ADDer be Saved? | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  3. Excellent web site you’ve got here.. It’s hard to find excellent writing like yours these days. I seriously appreciate people like you! Take care!!


  4. I’m looking forward to learning what can work best to help me achieve a more efficient and organized lifestyle. If only I could learn how to organize my computer information, I might not be so lost! I’m sorry to hear about Kate Kelly. Losing her is a significant loss. How are you doing through this difficult time? (Incidentally I did write a post on my blog, but I don’t know how to submit it any other way). Take care and stay safe, Edie


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