Self Management and Your Brain
I can hear you already.
Of course your brain sucks at self management!
Or maybe you’re thinking, “It’s my brain? And all this time I thought it was me.”.
Self management, when it comes to your brain, is called executive function.
Sounds pretty fancy, huh?
It turns out that executive function is a term to describe issues (weaknesses) in your brain’s self management system.
Most (I’d say all) people with ADHD have executive function issues. In fact, when you compare ADHD symptoms with those of executive function, they are almost identical. See this article for more information.
However, people with learning disabilities other than ADHD can also have executive function issues.
What is Executive Function?
As I said earlier, executive function is a series of problems or weaknesses in the way that your brain functions. This can include:
- Trouble paying attention
- Poor working memory
- Being overly emotional
- Trouble starting and/or finishing tasks
- Trouble transitioning from one thing to another
- Easily distracted
Wow. Sounds just like you and your ADHD, right?
Well, as I said, people with ADHD often have executive function issues.
What You Can Do
For me, things like ADHD and executive function are just labels.
You can tell me I have this or that, but more importantly, tell me what to do about it.
If you want to know more about executive function, there are a number of great articles out there. In addition to the one referenced above, you might like this one.
But let’s talk about some of the practical ways that we can compensate for poor self management when it comes to our brain.
Trouble paying attention, for instance. That is the epitome of ADHD, don’t you think?
Two really good ways to help with inattention are meditation and practicing mindfulness, or being present in the moment.
I’ve mentioned meditation many times before, with good reason. Meditation, at it’s simplest, is training the mind. The same is true for mindfulness. Learning to be in the present moment – which is something that meditation can help with too – means that you are paying attention. And with practice, you can learn to increase the amount of time that you are able to stay focused.
Poor Working Memory and Being Forgetful
Not being mindful, or in the moment, along with poor working memory, is why we are so forgetful.
So many of us live our lives in the future, thinking ahead to the next thing, paying little to no attention to the present. As a result, we lose things, we forget.
So, mindfulness can also help with poor working memory.
So can your phone and your planner.
Yes. I know it’s also a huge distraction, but you can learn to use it for good, not evil. 😉
My phone has the ability to record voice messages on it. I bet yours does too.
Not the kind that someone calling you leaves, but the oral equivalent of writing something down in your note taking app. You press the button, talk, and then press again to end. This is really helpful when you just remembered something and need to get it down before you forget.
You can probably also do that Siri thing with your phone, but she and I have issues, so we don’t talk much.
And your planner. You do have one, right?
Do you use it?
Maybe you could start, on, like, a regular basis. Write stuff down, check it nightly – and more, too.
Better Self Management
Now, sure, we’re talking about your brain and it’s self management skills, but it doesn’t hurt to talk about your own, as well.
After all, a brain that has enough sleep, that lives in a well nourished body that exercises at least a little bit on a regular basis, is going to function better than one that doesn’t.
So take better care of yourself in general.
And let me share something with you that I just kind of learned the other day.
I was listening to a podcast, and the woman kept talking about things like:
- Checking in with her body – was she stressed? Dehydrated? Feeling OK?
- Checking her feelings – actually giving that some thought – how did she feel about what she had just learned or experienced?
- Learning to say no, or at least to asking for time before giving an answer. (Those of us with ADHD tend to over commit a lot.)
In other words, she was learning self preservation and was taking charge of taking care of herself.
We know that.
We need to do it more.