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  • Writer's pictureAmy Duffy-Barnes

Strategies to Enhance Executive Functioning Skills for ADHD / Neurodivergent People

Updated: Jul 22, 2023

1. Task Prioritization and Time Management:

  • Create a daily or weekly to-do list, ranking tasks by urgency and importance.

  • Use time-blocking techniques to allocate specific time slots for tasks, incorporating breaks.

  • Set realistic deadlines to prevent feeling overwhelmed and foster productivity.

  • Embrace the Pomodoro method: Work in 25-minute intervals with 5-minute breaks, and take a longer break after four sessions.

2. Breaking Tasks into Smaller Steps:

  • Divide complex tasks into smaller, manageable steps, creating a clear roadmap.

  • Employ visual or written cues to represent the sequential order of steps in a task.

  • Celebrate the completion of each step to maintain motivation and progress.

3. Establishing Routines and Consistency:

  • Develop consistent daily routines to instill structure and predictability.

  • Incorporate dedicated time for planning and reviewing tasks within the routine.

  • Implement body doubling: Work alongside a supportive partner to maintain focus and accountability.

4. Cognitive Flexibility:

  • Engage in puzzles, brainteasers, and strategy games to strengthen problem-solving skills.

  • Embrace exposure to diverse experiences and perspectives to foster adaptability.

  • Practice mindfulness or meditation to enhance emotional flexibility and stress management.

5. Organization and Decluttering:

  • Utilize folders, color-coding, and labels to organize physical and digital materials.

  • Regularly declutter workspaces and digital devices to minimize distractions.

  • Maintain a "clean-as-you-go" approach to uphold organization in daily activities.

6. Memory Enhancement:

  • Employ mnemonic devices, visualization, and storytelling techniques to aid memory recall.

  • Engage in active listening and note-taking to reinforce memory retention.

  • Periodically review and summarize information to solidify learning.

7. Self-Monitoring and Reflection:

  • Keep a journal to track progress, identify challenges, and celebrate achievements.

  • Engage in periodic self-assessments to recognize strengths and areas for improvement.

  • Seek feedback from peers, mentors, or supervisors to gain external perspectives.

8. Goal Setting and Planning:

  • Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals for short-term and long-term objectives.

  • Create detailed action plans with specific steps to achieve each goal.

  • Regularly review and adjust goals based on progress and changing circumstances.

  • Schedule time for planning at the start of each day and at the beginning of each week.

9. Cognitive Tools and Supports:

  • Use reminders, alarms, and timers (including the Pomodoro technique) to stay focused and time-aware.

  • Implement task management apps or software to organize and track assignments effectively.

  • Embrace body doubling: Work alongside a supportive partner to stay on task and maintain concentration.

10. Physical Health and Well-Being:

  • Engage in regular exercise to improve focus, attention, and mood.

  • Adopt a balanced and nutritious diet to support brain function.

  • Prioritize rest and relaxation to reduce stress and enhance cognitive performance.

11. Seeking Professional Support:

  • Collaborate with a neurodiversity-affirming therapist to determine how to best utilize your strengths, identify personalized strategies and address specific challenges.

Remember that executive functioning skills can be developed and strengthened with consistent practice and a willingness to try different approaches. Executive functioning skills are always a little harder for ADHD, autistic, and other neurodivergent neurotypes. For the autistic, PTSD, and other neurotypes emotional balance is tied to the ability to access your executive functioning skills. Heartstone Guidance Center is committed to helping clients develop unique executive functioning toolkits that work for them, supporting each person's journey towards overall well-being.

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