How do I keep my executive functions running

Pen paper to keep executive functions running

Have you ever felt like doing things but were not able to do them and your body just bailed on you? The body just says a big NO, even though you are feeling healthy. There are multiple factors for this behavior such as procrastination, laziness, tiredness, and fatigue but if you are constantly feeling a disconnect between the body function and brain function then it might be due to weaker executive functions.

Hi, I am Prakhar and today I’ll be talking about how to keep executive functions running. First start with what is/are the executive function.

As per Wikipedia – In cognitive science and neuropsychology, executive functions (collectively referred to as executive function and cognitive control) are a set of cognitive processes that are necessary for the cognitive control of behavior: selecting and successfully monitoring behaviors that facilitate the attainment of chosen goals. Executive functions include basic cognitive processes such as attentional control, cognitive inhibition, inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. Higher-order executive functions require the simultaneous use of multiple basic executive functions and include planning and fluid intelligence (e.g., reasoning and problem-solving)

(Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_functions )

In simple terms, executive functions are controlled by a manager in the brain, whose job is to act as a coordinator between the processing unit and your other body functions which helps you get the tasks done in day-to-day life and make you do your jobs in your career.

I have been struggling with my executive functions my whole life. I have no proper brain manager because I have weak executive functions or we can say I have executive dysfunction.

Executive dysfunction is a behavioral symptom that disrupts a person’s ability to manage their own thoughts, emotions, and actions. It’s most common with certain mental health conditions, especially addictions, behavioral disorders, brain development disorders, and mood disorders.

(Source: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/23224-executive-dysfunction#:~:text=What%20is%20executive%20dysfunction%3F,development%20disorders%20and%20mood%20disorders. )

The Objective

My main objective is the function and ability to do my work and keep my life running properly.

Let’s break this into segments. I want to function means, I want to take the inputs, I want to process, I want to create a plan, I want to make bite-size chunks, I want to perform those chunks.

How to do this?

Now, this looks great we have solved the problem in the objective itself.

No, we have not. I have used multiple methods for this and had many systems function. But none of them are sustainable.

My problem lies in the last function part. Which is what the whole executive dysfunction is all about. I can think and plan it all to absolutely minor details but when it comes to doing I crash.  

My method

Without putting too much thought, I have devised the method in that I have started doing the pen-paper exercise. I took the smallest and thinnest diary I can get and a lightweight pen of my choice. It was easier to carry it around everywhere and made a habit of writing everything.

Then I began to jot down every task and added one word – ‘PLAN’ and instead of planning things in my head I trained myself to do them on paper. I had created that pen paper for my manager. I functioned for a month very well. Then my small diary ran out of pages.

Then, I took a new bigger diary which led me to crash.

At that point, I realized I needed a blank and small diary where I can do my checkpoints and plan and execute.

External Help

Since executive dysfunction is the problem of missing brain managers it is good to ask for external help. There are a few routes that I am trying to figure out. I have started taking the help of a professional psychologist to help me make myself accountable for my assignments. My long-term plan is to take the help of my mother and family and as a next step hire a manager for managing my work.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there is no right way to keep your functions in check. But knowing what is going wrong is important. And In my experience pen paper exercise always works. Whenever I feel falling behind, I ditch all my digital systems and turn to pen paper.

And yes sometimes if nothing works it’s time to take a rest and restart my brain and reset my sensors may be they’ve got overloaded.

Let me know what are your tools to keep functioning?

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