Individuals with ADHD and ADD often have difficulty with Executive Skills, also called Executive Functions. These are the skills that help us manage and direct our lives. They are analogous to the activities that an executive engages in to manage and direct a company or business.

Executive skills allow us to plan and organize our behavior and make well-considered decisions, overrule immediate desires in favor of longer-term goals, take conscious control of our emotions, and monitor our thoughts in order to work more efficiently and effectively.

There are a number of different theories and definitions of the skills that constitute executive functions. The following is a compilation that illustrates the full range of skills needed to effectively manage our lives.

Executive Functions

Planning and prioritizing The ability to create a plan to complete a task or to develop an approach to achieving a goal. This skill includes making decisions about what to direct attention toward and the ordering of the steps needed to achieve the goal.

Time management The sense that “time” is an important concept, the ability to accurately estimate how much time a task will take, knowing how to apportion your time, and how to stay within time constraints to meet deadlines.

Organization The ability to arrange ideas or objects according to a defined structure.

Working Memory The ability to remember information while using the information to perform complex tasks.

Metacognition The ability to take a top-down view of your problem solving approach and to self-monitor and evaluate performance.

Response Inhibition The power to resist the urge to say or to do something; taking time to think before acting.

Self-regulation of Affect The ability to deal with emotions so that they don’t get in the way of completing tasks or achieving goals.

Task Initiation The ability to start a task at the appropriate time without delay or procrastination.

Flexibility The ability to adapt your responses, behaviors and plans when necessary in order to achieve toward your goals.

Goal-directed Persistence The ability to follow through to complete tasks and achieve goals.

Sustained Attention The capacity to pay attention to a task, particularly if the task is not interesting.

Disengaging Attention The ability to stop directing your attention towards one thing and direct it towards something else.

Regulation of Processing Speed The ability to make a conscious decision about how slowly or quickly to perform a task based upon its importance to you.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Kari Miller is a Board Certified Educational Therapist and Director of Miller Educational Excellence in Los Angeles. She began her career almost twenty-five years ago as a special education resource teacher. She has worked with students in a vast array of capacities, including special education teacher and educational therapist. Dr. Miller has a PhD in Educational Psychology and Mathematical Statistics, a master’s degree in Learning Disabilities, Gifted Education and Educational Diagnosis, and a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Behavior Disorders.

To contact Dr. Miller
Phone: 310-280-9813