Step 3: Contract-Centered Coaching (CCC)

One of the hardest parts of getting people with ADHD, ADD, or just problems with organization, planning, and forgetfulness, is knowing what to say to them and how to say it when they need an intervention.

In our experience, procrastinators run into three roadblocks:

  • Scheduling their tasks,
  • Starting tasks, and
  • Getting distracted from completing the task.

The problem of pressure

Many clinicians, parents, teachers, employers, friends, partners, and other allies frequently complain that as soon as they start pressuring the person to do their work, they get pushback or avoidance or denial or something approaching gaslighting that makes it very difficult for them to succeed in their effort.

The same problems can affect coaches—which is why they need a mechanism in place to put effective pressure on the client to do their work at the agreed-upon time.

At Slothzero, our solution to this problem is what we call contract-centered coaching.

Contract-centered coaching

Within this framework, the client and the coach make an explicit contract within the first month of meeting together. The contract involves the client consenting to the coach pushing them to do their work on time.

This consent process is analogous to the consent process that occurs in medical procedures in which the patient is explicitly told about the risks and benefits of the procedure they’re about to undergo and comes to understand that certain unpleasantness may attend getting the help that they need.

In Slothzero’s case, the client consents to an agreed-upon process that the coach will use to motivate them. The patient and an accountability coach agree on what the coach-client relationship will involve, including how hard the client wants to be pushed when they resist or don’t come through on assigned tasks.

This process may involve:

  • Texting
  • Phone calls
  • Video calls 
  • Emails

For instance, many clients simply need someone to sit on a video call with them while they perform a task (like studying for a class, cleaning their room, or working on their novel).

Other clients find it extremely helpful to agree on a “pictures or it didn’t happen” plan where they’re expected to text their coach a photo of the completed task by a certain time.

The client and coach may also agree that the coach will use a specific tone of voice or certain phrases to motivate the client. For instance, the coach might call the client and say something like this:

“You and I agreed that when you weren’t doing your work, I would call you and be firm but kind until you started your work. So I’m calling you right now because I’m sticking to my end of the agreement. We have a contract, and we’re going to stick to it because that’s what you hired us to do.”

The contract may also include that a parent, therapist, or other person in the client’s life will receive copies of their weekly email so that they know what happened and what didn’t happen.

Clients resist being pushed, and let themselves off the hook. Part of our expertise is how to keep them on the hook, and how to optimally push people.