Executive Function Skills

You might be asking yourself "what are executive function skills and why are they so important for me to know about?". Well, I'm so glad you asked! Executive functions are higher-level cognitive skills that control and coordinate your thinking and behavior. Executive function is a business metaphor, "where the chief executive monitors all of the different departments so that the company can move forward as efficiently and effectively as possible. Who we are, how we organize our lives, how we plan and how we then execute those plans is largely guided by our executive system"(UCSF, 2016). 

Executive functions consist of working memory, planning and prioritization, organization, time management, metacognition (thinking about how you think), response inhibition, emotional control, sustained attention, task initiation, goal directed persistence, and flexibility.

Impairments in any of these domains may be characterized by an inability to attend to tasks for a sustained period of time, complete assignments or homework in a timely manner, follow multi-step directions, demonstrate appropriate social behavior in various settings, avoid anti-social behavior(s), foresee consequences of given behavior(s), remember a telephone number, tell a story in verbal or written form, or get started on a task. This list is by no means comprehensive, but meant to provide you with examples of key behaviors associated with an impairment of executive function skills.  

As you can see, executive function skills are essential to our everyday lives as we navigate through our daily routines. To learn more about executive function skills read the Harvard University Brief on executive function and how it impacts our educational achievement, relationships, health, economy, and policies.