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Executive Functioning and Setting Goals

By Tefi Riera · May 5, 2020 ·
  1. First of all, I wanna start this telling YOU that if you have been struggling all quarantine to complete one single task or you feel you're lazy and you haven't achieved anything in a month: That's okay, and you are not alone. We're all having a bad time, 'cause this is a PANDEMIC, not a vacation. So, go easy on yourself. I believe in you.

    This changed the way I see myself and my life

    I - as many of you - have been struggling really hard with executive functioning all my life. I've been really analytic of my own mind since I was younger but when I found out that I am autistic, everything changed. I started seeing myself differently and, of course, I've been improving every (and when I say every I really mean it) aspect of my life ever since.

    Nevertheless, I think that this is something that happens to everyone, neuro-typical or not. So here it is, I listed the main points to make this as short as I can:

    1.- Executive functioning: Starting and/or completing a task. This really is something. I don't wanna go much into EF because I'm not a professional and I think it's a huge subject, but I speak from my experience. We all know the struggle of seeing our clothes in the washing machine, just clean, waiting for you to take it out. But that's not all. Maybe you've experienced this: You make a To-Do list and you forget to read it, so you never get anything done. Or you know you have to do something or you want to do something but you never start doing it. Which takes me to the second point.

    2.- Setting goals. Yes, this is a cliché, but I think our neuro-diverse brains need more fuel even for the simplest things in life, do you see where I'm going? This doesn't mean that neuro-typicals don't struggle from time to time with executive functioning for any reason, but not always. We, on the contrary, experience it every day, no matter what. And maybe some of you have it really well managed but some of us don't. What I say is that we have to work on it. Things don't come as time goes by. Your To-Do list isn't going to get checked magically by itself and you're not going to do it either. So you have to start setting goals. Ask yourself what you want to do and most important: why.

    For example, my general goal is to not struggle with housework because a messy house makes me feel even more exhausted when I get home from work. Now my goal for this month is to keep my house clean and organized so I set a plan to do it and immediately I have a goal for the next day: Complete two tasks such as cleaning the bathroom and organizing the shelves. Then I set an alarm or a reminder to a specific hour and I try to stick to that. The whole process of thinking all of this is exhausting, but it will get you doing things you weren't doing before. At least for one month.

    3.- Stay focused. So I did it in the first month. It was hard, it wasn't perfect - no one is - but I did it. Now what? Well, I said it was important to ask ourselves why we want to do something in order to keep doing it in the long term. But don't just think "because I have to", or "because I'm supposed to". You need a real reason, something that motivates you to stay focused. Your brain isn't capable to give you that so you have to make it yourself. That something that you want to do, maybe it's rewarding, maybe it gives you some benefits, maybe it's a relaxing task for you but for the mere fact that it is in a To-Do list, it makes you run from it. And when you have it, write it down and you'll give yourself that extra process you need to finish things.

    --

    Of course, all of this works with many things, from small goals to long term goals. I'm working on long term goals but I'll talk about that on another entry. Finally, I have some tips for you:

    - Tiimo App: Maybe many of you have heard of this app, it's still in development but it's very very useful and visual. I personally prefer to write things down but I have so many things in mind that if I write everything I would spend a whole day just planning.
    - Avoid distractions: If you have to concentrate on something like studying or reading please don't sabotage yourself, 'cause you won't finish and you'll feel bad again.
    - Get some rest: I'm saying this while I'm writing on my laptop after a whole day of studying so I'm not the best example BUT I really mean it. You have to learn how to manage not only your time but your energy. If you know yourself then you'll know when it's better for you to set a time to finish a task and what type of task.

    So that's all :) I hope this was helpful.
    Bye bye
    - Tefi
    Nightingale121 likes this.

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