Of course, the day I go off the rails is the day I wanted to talk about executive functioning… Executive Functioning is the ability to predict what is going to happen, to plan ahead but also to be able to change things in your plans depending on what is happening around you.
Most people with ADHD suffer from some level of issues when it comes to EF. From forgetting where you’ve left the forms you were supposed to hand in, to not being able to predict how long some task will take you, to simply forgetting you had an appointment. There are a lot of elements to this.
Tom Brown (source) breaks EF down into six clusters:
1. Organizing, prioritizing and activating for tasks
2. Focusing, sustaining and shifting attention to task
3. Regulating alertness, sustaining effort and processing speed
4. Managing frustration and modulating emotions
5. Utilizing working memory and accessing recall
6. Monitoring and self-regulating action
Anyone with ADHD will recognise areas from these clusters that they’ll have issues with. It won’t be the same for all of us, but most of us have difficulty in most clusters, just the severity of them will be different.
Today I’ll focus just on the first cluster, Organizing.
According to Brown, this cluster is specified by “Organizing, prioritizing and activating for tasks”. To me, this sounds like “Making and actually sticking to plans”. Today, I made my video for the Youtube Channel about exactly this subject.
When people see me, when they see how much I actually plan, and how organised I appear, they also assume that those plans are (at least somewhat) set in stone and that I follow the plans to the letter. Both of these assumptions are false. You’ll have to watch the video to see how false they are, but I want to talk about the act of planning and the use for it when we have poor executive functioning in our Organisation cluster.
I plan for a couple of reasons, but they come down to basically two primary reasons.
1. I plan so that I don’t overstuff my days and weeks. This means that I make sure that I have enough time set aside for all the tasks that I planned on doing. Otherwise, I’ll take on too much and will overload my days and weeks.
2. I plan so I have an overview of how much time I’ll dedicate to each task and to give me some holds for those tasks. This way, even if stuff goes wrong. *cough* Like falling behind on my ADHDailies *cough* I’ll still be able to go back to my schedule and know that I dedicated time slots to certain tasks and that I can use those slots for the tasks at hand.
Do I follow through on all of my planning? No, definitely not. But having the comfort (not the constraint) of being able to sit down and start on a task that I’d planned on, makes things a lot more quiet in my head. Also, dedicating timeslots to tasks helps me with the third part of the Organization cluster, and that is activating for a task. If I know a certain task in coming up, I find it easier to actually start that task because I was able to mentally prepare to starting that task.
Do you have issues in the Organization cluster? How are you dealing with them?