The Lazy Girls’ Guide To Crushing Your Executive Functions

guide to crushing your executive functions

Poor executive function has a tremendous negative impact on our lives.

The problem is, when you have ADHD your executive functions are impaired. It kinda is what it is you know?

Living this way is terribly frustrating. And exhausting.

I have been reading and learning as much as I possibly can about executive function. What it is, and why it is sooooo important.

Now I’m ready to show you how I like to deal with each of my own EF deficits. And yes, I say deficits because I have problems with every single one of these.

You’d think I would have gotten lucky in one area. (nope.)

If you want my list of hacks without reading through, click here.

 

The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Crushing Your Executive functions

 

Activation

Getting started is not easy for us, even when we technically like what we are doing. We also tend to build things up in our mind. We question ourselves about what to do first, second etc.

Ideas:

  • I force my hands/feet to do one thing.
  • Tell myself that I can do anything for 15 minutes.
  • Remind myself that procrastinating makes it BIGGER than it really is.
  • Say it out loud, as in talk to myself.
  • Watch how others get started, what actions do they take.
  • Play music that I like, to get the dopamine flowing.
  • Ask my boss to prioritize for me so I know where to start.
  • Ask for deadlines, or set your own deadlines.

 

To wake up on time and maintain a schedule:

I share a calendar w/the Hubs.

  • Keep a big ugly paper calendar on my wall at all times. (Externalize the commitments.)
  • I set multiple reminders in my phone.
  • Set reminders in Google calendar as well.
  • Husband makes sure I am up, before my actual alarm goes off
  • Go to bed on time, and have a bedtime ritual
  • Ask yourself if this is important now? If so, do it now and don’t wait.

Focus

What’s that? Focus on what?

It’s not easy to stay on task without getting distracted. This is a product of our brain and also the world we live in. Unfortunately, we often are not even aware that we aren’t focusing. Or we focus on the wrong thing for too long and lose track of time.

People have to make a conscious decision to pay attention, and that is not automatic for us like it is for others.

Ideas:

  • Use a timer so you are interrupted every 15 minutes or so.
  • Take your medication as prescribed.
  • Practice listening to people. Really listen and see if you can get your head into the conversation.
  • Check your anxiety, are your thoughts racing?
  • Ask yourself if you are on task as often as necessary. (The more you do this it will become automatic)
  • Wear noise canceling headphones
  • Listen to music while you work so the dopamine helps you focus
  • Put your phone on silent when it is not crucial
  • Turn off notifications on your phone

Effort

Errrrbody thinks that ADHD is a lack of effort. It is not, it is a lack of executive function.

Making the simplest decision can be a challenge, so when you throw a question or some kind of new information at us we have no idea how to respond.

Some of us live with a constant low-arousal state where if we are not really excited, we cannot even keep ourselves awake. It feels like sleepwalking through life and it sucks.

Ideas:

  • Practice saying, “I’ll get back to you on that.”
  • Limit your choices when you have to make decisions. (fish or chicken?)
  • Take your medications as prescribed.
  • Keep a notebook with you to write down notes to yourself.
  • Complete 2-3 tasks per day instead of trying to do 10 at the same time.
  • Create a short list of 2-3 main tasks per day.
  • Unmotivated? Take action based on your values, ask yourself if your current behavior is in line with what you really want.

Emotion

Don’t believe what you mind tells you.

I have no idea who said that, but I love it! ADHDers tend to be a little reactive. We feel things very deeply.

My whole approach to my support programs is to manage emotions and learn to accept ourselves. Managing the emotional aspects of ADHD takes time and effort. Not everyone wants to work that hard. I get it.

Here are my emotional management tips:

  • Acknowledge any depression or anxiety in your life.
  • Talk to counselors, psychologists, and a psychiatrist about medication.
  • Work through negative core beliefs about yourself.
  • Fake it until you make it. (Emotions often follow behavior.)
  • Reframe the negative thought patterns.
  • Create a toolbox to keep yourself emotionally healthy.
  • Work on NOT personalizing constructive criticism.

VIP list for my new Emotional Management Program.

Memory

I cannot remember what I had for breakfast most of the time. Don’t even ask me about something that happened 2 months ago.

I once heard that short term memory is like a shelf. My shelf can only hold one thing at a time before it collapses.

Ideas:

  • Keep a journal so all of life’s memories can be accessed. (Good and bad.)
  • Externalize – keep writing notes to yourself in addition to the journal.
  • Keep the notepad and/or journal with you at all times.
  • Anticipate forgetting ahead of time.
  • Use outlines and/or bulleted lists so you don’t have to hold things in your mind.
  • Put important things in your visual field. (Keys right next to the door)
  • If something goes wrong ask yourself why at least 3 times, working backward to recall the facts.
  • Each evening check-in – anything I forgot to write down? Or do?
  • Refer to your short list of tasks several times per day.

Action

Taking action or being stuck in inaction are both common with ADHD.

People always assume that unless you are an eight-year-old boy who is hyperactive you do not have ADHD. Not only is this factually inaccurate, it is hurtful to those of us that have trouble as adults.

Regulating impulsive behaviors is a lesser-known issue for many of us.

My ideas:

  • Think before you move your body.
  • Think before you open your mouth.
  • Take notice of when you speak out of turn.
  • Pay close attention to the facial expressions/body language of others.
  • Take your medication so slow down the impulsivity.
  • Type instead of write if it is easier for you to manage.
  • Slow down. Slow your speech, slow your mind.
  • Get mindfulness training.
  • Take deep breaths.
  • Move your body in healthy ways.

This is by no means comprehensive. In fact, if you have strategies that work for you please email me. I’d love to hear them.

Download my list of Executive Function Tools and Tricks Below!

Crush Your Executive Functions