A group of mental abilities known as executive function includes working memory, adaptable reasoning, and self-control. Each day, individuals employ these abilities to learn, work, and navigate daily life. Executive functioning skills help individuals focus and do things in a systematic manner.
Early childhood and the teen years are when executive function skills often grow the fastest. However, they continue to grow into their mid-20s. Some individuals might not be much efficient at everyday executive functioning skills and face challenges managing everything effectively. That’s when relevant activities come into the picture!
Through games and activities, individuals get an opportunity to trigger their habits and bring about a change in living. These activities are easy to conduct and can also be modified as per the given environments. Check engaging activities that can be played in the corporate world, social groups, or seminars as well.
Engaging activities to improve executive functioning skills
Executive functioning is an important skill for individuals. However, it is important to constantly keep developing the skill for success in different areas of life. Certain executive functioning skills can be furnished with relevant activities mentioned below.
1. Plan your Travel
Planning is one of the essential skills for adults. It takes planning to prioritize everyday tasks and complete them with success. Whether it is a business situation or a job, planning activities are helpful for every individual.
- To conduct this activity, make chits of different travel destinations and put them in a bowl
- Now, ask participants to pick one chit at a time and check the destination written on it
- Once done, give them 10 minutes time to research the destination
- After 10 minutes, give a pen paper and ask them to plan a 5-day trip to that specific destination
- Give them the creative freedom to talk about places to visit, things to do, different food dishes to try, and adventure activities for that specific destination
- When they are done planning, ask them to discuss their plan with everyone
Executive functioning is about enabling the working memory to function effectively. Such an activity helps individuals research, remember, and also plan the information in a defined format.
2. Puzzled Puzzle
Time management plays a crucial role in everyday life. With time management, adults can achieve work-life balance as well. The activity focuses on enhancing time management skills in adults.
- To conduct this activity, arrange for a big Jigsaw puzzle
- Now, divide the participants into teams of 4 or 5 members per group
- Distribute the puzzles to all teams and give them three minutes of time to start working on the puzzle
- Do not show the bigger picture of the puzzle thereby creating suspense about it
- After 3 minutes, show them the big picture and wait for them to complete the puzzle
- After completion, ask teams to share their time management strategies used for completing the puzzle
The trick behind the activity is how different teams plan their time while some teams may focus on collecting parts of the puzzle. The other teams may have no idea how to complete the puzzle. It is the discussion that brings in valuable feedback for everyone to learn.
3. Take me out of the Problem
Individuals face various challenges in everyday life. The activity focuses on building the problem-solving skills of adults in different situations of life.
- To conduct this activity, write about different problems on flashcards
- Now, put these flashcards in a box and divide the participants into teams of two members each
- Ask each team to pick the flash card but do not see it until it is their turn
- Now, call one team and ask them to read the problem mentioned on the flash card without giving them more time
- Ask them to share their opinions and perspectives as to how the problem can be solved
- These problems can be related to a job situation, marketing strategy, everyday life or even managing people
Critical thinking enables adults to think differently at any given moment. Once they learn to process information, they can quickly find solutions. They are more likely to gain adaptive thinking and problem-solving skills when they get an opportunity to face problems.
4. What’s the Error?
Everyone makes mistakes in some or the other way. However, it is important for anyone to be open to acceptance. One of the important skills of executive functioning is self-monitoring.
- To conduct this activity, you can use different case studies about realistic situations
- Divide the participants into teams of three members each
- Now, hand over different case studies to all teams
- These studies can be related to any job situation, teaching, or everyday challenges
- After the team goes through the case study, ask each team member to put themselves in the shoes of the character mentioned in the case study
- Now, ask them the solution if they were that specific person dealing with that situation
Self-monitoring is the regulation of behavior depending on different situations. Even when participants are divided into different teams, it is surprisingly interesting that these people are sure to have different answers to the same case study. When they put themselves in the shoes of other people, they get an opportunity to monitor their behavior, opinions, and views in a given situation.
5. Stationary and Personality
The organization is an important executive functioning skill that enables individuals to be prepared and manage materials in an effective manner. Organization skills also help adults avoid mess.
- To conduct this activity, arrange stationery materials including a pen holder, pens, a pencil, a notebook, a potted plant, a photo frame, and sticky notes
- Now, give them a certain area or a desk to perform this activity
- Make sure the desk or the area is completely empty
- Once they have the materials in hand, ask them to organize the desk area as per the personality of the person working on the desk
- Here, give an interesting twist by defining the personality of the person
- For example, you may say that the person requires neatness or that a person is very specific about the placement of certain colored pens
- Give them 2 minutes to arrange the materials and watch how they organize them according to different personalities
Organization skills help individuals in various aspects of life. Through this activity, individuals learn to organize materials according to different people. Hence, it also enables them to understand the different perspectives and thinking capabilities of their colleagues and family members.
6. Emotionally Emotional
Executive functioning works on the principle of emotional regulation as well. It is important to regulate emotions in everyday life to achieve success.
- To conduct this activity, ask adults to write about their everyday emotions
- Here, they need to make a journal of everyday displaying their feelings
- Now, ask them what they want to change and how can they do so
- Invite an open discussion from all participants
When adults look after their emotions, they also learn self-regulation. It is important to regulate emotions, set clear boundaries, and also handle these triggers in an appropriate manner.
7. Why So New?
Self-monitoring and awareness are an important qualities to develop executive functioning skills. It is evident that one should adapt to different situations and tasks without being overwhelmed by them.
- To conduct this activity, make all individuals sit in a circle
- Now, give a topic to the entire group of people
- Here, point one person who starts presenting the perspectives on the topic
- As she/he starts speaking, ask any random person to continue sharing the conversation but bring about a twist
- The task is to keep changing opinions in a story format and allowing individuals to speak only when it’s their turn
Such an activity promotes self-control and monitoring since individuals cannot speak in between. They also learn to be quick thinkers by sharing their views in a prompt manner.
Everyday techniques to improve executive functioning
Executive functioning skills can be enhanced when practiced every day. It only takes subtle actions to bring about a change and keep improving with it. Check how you can incorporate these skills in everyday life.
- Planning the entire day is one of the efficient ways to improve executive functioning skills. Right from waking up to sleeping, everything should be listed in an appropriate manner
- Organizing the home and workplace is also crucial. Individuals can organize the work area before starting off to incorporate a habit in everyday life
- Writing tasks on a sheet of paper also enhances executive functioning. When tasks are written, it helps individuals become more goal-oriented and efficient
- Managing time also helps with furnishing this skill. Individuals must set time required time aside for recreational activities, work, health, and meditation
- It is equally important to achieve self-control in the case of working, eating, or exercising. One can employ executive functioning skills by neither overdoing nor undergoing any of these.
- Teachers can use some executive functioning books for themselves and their students. Moreover, these can also be used by adults to enhance this particular life skill.
Parents and adults can benefit from planning, problem-solving, organization, and execution skills in many different areas of life. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that the development of executive function is one of the slower mental processes. It is important to know that learning and implementing these skills takes time.
The above-mentioned activities offer a diversified learning platform for adults. While these activities are a subtle way to develop executive functioning skills, one can also use different books, tools and resources. It is significant to keep changing learning strategies to always stay updated with fresh tricks and tips.
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,