What are these skills you speak of?
“Executive functioning skills” is a term that is used to describe our brain’s ability to plan, organize, and complete tasks. Brain functions such as short-term memory, mental flexibility, and self-control are all involved in these types of tasks. In your day to day life, this means that you are capable of developing strong executive functioning skills if your brain does well with remembering, being able to shift gears or “think outside of the box,” and being self-aware enough to enable you to control impulses and adjust your actions when change is helpful. If you are lucky enough to have strong executive functioning skills you will more easily develop the ability to:
- Find things when you need them rather than spending half of your planned task activity just trying to locate the items that you need.
- Keep track of tasks that need to get taken care of or appointments/dates to keep instead of constantly needing to apologize for forgetting to do things or show up when you promised to.
- Prioritize things that are the most important over accomplishing other perhaps the easier ones…or the ones that are less tedious…or the ones that just happen to be in front of your face (I call these rabbit holes…a major weakness of mine, I go down rabbit holes all the time. My professional husband also uses the term, “project creep” when he is encouraging me to avoid it and stay on task. ).
- Chunk/plan out long term projects so that you can gather the necessary materials and then work on them gradually rather than leaving it all to the last minute.
- Estimate how long a task will take, fairly accurately, so that as you plan things in your schedule or on your “To Do” list, you have reasonable expectations of yourself rather than expecting yourself to have 8 hands and 2 brains and then feel like a failure when you don’t accomplish everything on your list.
Michele Garcia Winner is the creator of the Social Thinking framework, which teaches social skills to individuals who are struggling due to issues such as “Asperger’s” and ADHD. She writes this article inviting us to be more flexible about how we respond to people who might come across as not interested in socializing with us but really are quite lonely and would love to be a part of the conversation. The more we take the time to try to understand people we encounter, from all walks of life, the more connected we feel to each other, our families, our communities, and our world. What a great topic to consider during this busy holiday time.