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Executive Functioning & ADHD: Strategies and Tools to Improve

January 23, 2023

Establish a Command Center or Home Office

Establishing a home office or command center can help individuals with ADHD to keep organized and stay on track with tasks. This should be located in an easily accessible part of the house – this way you’ll have a defined space to get things done. It should have a desk, file cabinet, noticeboard, computer, as well as space for writing materials other organising materials. 

When your house is set up this way, you’ll have a place to go that is specifically set up to be productive and focused.

home office executive function adhd

Identify Time Stealers, Make An Action Plan

Identifying typical activities and events that lead to procrastination and wasted time can help you better structure your plans and goals. Social media, phone notifications, noise, even hunger – these can all make it harder for us to use time effectively. Set your phone to Do Not Disturb, make sure you’ve had a snack, and find a quiet place. Then you’ll be ready to start.
Whenever you need to complete an important task, you’ll need an action plan. For example, if you have a deadline for a budget proposal at work, establish what you need to have done and when you need to have it done by. 
Then, follow the famous advice of Dr Stephen R Covey, “Begin with the end in mind”.  Work out what steps are needed to achieve your goal. You can even Google examples of budget proposals to get inspiration (of course being careful not to plaigarise anyone’s work).

Create a timeline for completion and set reminders or alarms when it’s time to switch from one task to another. This will help prevent distractions from activities unrelated to what needs to be done and provide clarity in knowing how long each task should take.

action plan executive function adhd

Use Visual Cues & Organisation Strategies

Strategies such as visualisation, post-it notes, and lists can be used to help strengthen memory muscles. Creating visual reminders is useful for both tagging items to remember, or tasks that need to be completed. 
Organising your work space by sorting items into themes or having dedicated zones for specific activities helps to keep focus and remember what needs attention.
Additionally, setting aside regular time to review commitments like deadlines or appointments – for example, by regularly checking your calendar or to do list to see what’s coming up – can help ensure nothing slips through the cracks.
visual tools executive function adhd

Utilise Tools for Boosting Executive Functioning Skills

Effective utilisation of tools tailored to executive functioning can also help strengthen understanding and focus. Digital calendars, task management apps and online reminders are a few of the tactical techniques that can be used to stay on top of tasks.

  • Timers or structured plan approaches like the Pomodoro Technique can be incorporated in order to keep track of important tasks for better productivity.
  • It is recommended to create a “to-do” list of the tasks that need to be completed each day or week. Regular check-ins with this list can help improve focus and efficiency for long-term planning. Popular tools include Evernote for note taking; Trello or Todoist for to do lists.
  • Utilising digital calendars with reminders can be very effective in staying on top of goals. These tools are helpful as they serve as visual cues to stay organised & on track. Popular calendar tools include iCalendar and Google Calendar.
  • Reminder notifications on your phone can provide alerts when tasks become due or need updating, keeping goals top of mind and encouraging goal completion. Examples including asking Siri, Google Assistant or Alexa to remind you to perform a certain task at a certain time.
Additionally, tracking successes and challenges helps keep goals front and centre. When you take time to reflect on how you successfully completed a task or project, you’re motivated to replicate your success in future.
calendar executive function adhd

Executive Functioning & ADHD: Use online programs

Changing the brain can’t be done overnight, but it absolutely can be done. Improving executive functioning takes daily practice, individualised instruction and engaging exercises to create significant and lasting improvements.

Fortunately there are online programs that can help you improve executive functioning in an easy and fun way.

Executive functioning skills
Sonic Learning’s team of health and education professionals has been successfully using proven neuroscience programs (EF Kids, Fast ForWord and Cogmed) since 2004 to improve working memory.

The 3 Pronged Approach to improve executive functioning skills

To improve executive functioning, we need to target the cause of executive function problems with a three pronged approach which includes skill building strategies.

If you google “executive function help” you’ll see a lot of strategies (e.g. “keep a schedule” and “use visual aids”).

These are compensatory strategies – they are important, but they do not improve executive functioning and are not a long term solution.

Most health professionals now agree that a three-pronged approach to intervention is most effective, involving a combination of individualised compensatory strategies, learning environment modifications and skill building strategies.

executive function

ADHD screening assessment for adults

People aged 18 and above can take our short ADHD screening assessment.
While not a diagnostic tool, it can help you decide if you need a diagnosis from a health professional.

References

Learn more & contact us

Executive function info pack

Download Executive Function info pack

Everything you need to know, including the basics of executive function and tips for teaching students who struggle with executive function.

EF programs

Our executive function programs

EF Kids, Fast ForWord and Cogmed are online programs that can help you improve executive functioning in an easy and fun way.

Book a free phone consult

This free telephone consultation can help to answer any questions you have about our services. At Sonic Learning we are all experienced teachers and health professionals so parents tend to find it very beneficial to be able to discuss their concerns and receive guidance from our team.

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