Finish 2018 + Start 2019 Strong10/01/2018
Executive Functions: Planning & Organization10/15/2018
Why? Because being able to “think flexibly” is considered an all-important executive functioning skill, and as such is vital to learning, working, and living well in everyday life.
I had some reader questions about executive functioning so I thought a little deeper dive into that topic was apropos.
Parents of little ones may be more connected to the term executive function as there is a focus in primary and secondary education about helping children develop these skills.
I assure you these lessons are NOT just for little ones, and there is great value in *grown-ups* looking at them again as a reminder of their place not only in our lives but in society as a whole.
Let’s start with the definition:
The executive functions are a set of processes that all have to do with managing oneself and one’s resources in order to achieve a goal. It is an umbrella term for the neurologically-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation.
So you might be thinking, “well I’m just not a goal-oriented person. I live contently day to day and I’ve achieved most of what I wanted to in life.” And with that you may think that the executive functioning skills don’t really apply to you. They do.
I turned to experts Joyce Cooper-Kahn and Laurie Dietzel to give us the basics on executive functioning:
- The executive functions all serve a “command and control” function; they can be viewed as the “conductor” of all cognitive skills.
- Executive functions help us manage life tasks of all types. For example, executive functions let us organize a trip, deliver on a work project, or prepare healthy meals.
- Often, when we think of problems with executive functioning, we think of disorganization. However, organization is only one of these important skills.
Following years of study neuropsychologists identified 8 executive function skills and for the next couple of week’s tips we will look at each of the skills. Here is a refresher on the skill “flexible thinking,” sometimes referred to as “shift.”
Flexible thinking is the ability to move freely from one situation to another and to think flexibly in order to respond to a (challenging) situation. This ability can help us stay calm, think clearly and make healthy choices, while inflexible thoughts build anger, cloud our thinking and often prompt us to make choices with unpleasant consequences.
At a glance, flexible thinking:
- Allows us to switch gears and look at things from a different perspective
- Requires the ability to “unlearn” old ways of doing things
- Plays a key role in all types of learning.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback.
If you’re interested in tuning into your executive functions, consider unlimited 1-on-1 coaching.