Improving Executive Functioning Skills for Adults

Executive Functioning Skills Activities For Adults

People with executive functioning skills challenges can seem forgetful, unorganized and unable to complete basic tasks. Their struggles with task initiation, planning and organisation, shifting and monitoring can cause frustration and isolation in their community.

Play think outside the box games like hide and seek or nursery rhymes to improve focus and inhibitory control. Music games such as Musical Statues and hopscotch are also helpful.


Managing time, prioritizing, staying organized and more require planning skills. These skills are often the difference between an adult managing their life well and a person who is just hanging on.

It’s important to know that these executive functioning skills develop throughout the teen years and into adulthood. This means that many of the activities, books and tools used to help children with their planning, organizational and impulse control challenges can be beneficial for adults as well.

For example, a simple task management app like a Pomodoro app or a calendar app can be helpful for adults who have difficulty with keeping track of their daily tasks. Similarly, the Impulse Control Journal, although originally designed for kids, has components that are applicable to adults as well. This includes worksheets and prompts that address the underlying skills that play into trouble with planning, organization and impulse control. These strategies can help improve overall functioning, even in the face of challenges like ADHD and depression.

Time Management

People with executive function challenges often struggle to complete tasks, maintain a job and keep up with life’s responsibilities. They may also have trouble staying focused, handling distractions or following multiple-step directions. These skills can be strengthened by incorporating activities that focus on planning, prioritizing, organization, shifting and time management.

For example, assign participants a number of tasks and have them rank them by priority. Have them work on each one for a set period of time (e.g., the pomodoro method) and then rate their performance. Explain that if they’re able to finish more tasks in the same amount of time, it’s likely they can improve their productivity.

Another strategy involves scattering multiple blocks of different colors across the floor and having participants try to pick them up with their non-dominant hand in a specified amount of time. Afterward, you can compare each person’s results and discuss the importance of making the most of available resources.


Self-control is a key component of executive functioning. It is the ability to resist impulses and emotions and think before acting. It can help us stick to our goals and not be swayed by distractions or immediate rewards.

Researchers have found that people with good self-control are more likely to be successful as adults, even when IQ and family socioeconomic status are taken into account. While a person’s innate intelligence and upbringing play an important role, research also shows that self-control can be taught.

For example, the ability to control oneself can be practiced in a variety of ways, such as taking turns being drum leaders or playing board games that require patience and emotional self-control. The goal is to build discipline that can be used in both personal and professional life.

Working Memory

A group of mental abilities that includes working memory, adaptable reasoning, and self-control, executive functioning skills enable us to manage ourselves and the world around us. They help us prioritize, plan, stay organized, and control our emotions in a way that allows us to function well at work, school, and in the rest of our lives.

When adults have challenges with executive functioning, it can make it difficult to complete basic tasks. This can be frustrating and stressful, and it can also impact an individual’s quality of life.

There are many things individuals can do to improve their working memory. Practicing mindfulness, using reminders and alarms, breaking up larger tasks into smaller ones, or utilizing an app such as Pomodoro can all improve an individual’s performance. Another helpful strategy is to recognize emotional triggers and develop coping strategies that will allow people to take more time before responding or reacting. This will give their executive functioning skills more of a chance to kick in.

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