Do you find it hard to stay on task? You could have this condition!
Have you ever heard of executive dysfunction?
No? Alright, picture this: You get an assignment and sit down in front of your laptop to get started. But when you fire up your word processor, you end up unable to do anything. You know this assignment is important, but you can’t get it done.
You get up to clear your mind and end up cleaning out the bottom drawer of your dresser. After that, you move on to other chores, like the laundry. Heck, you even find time to reply to that SMS from the ex you’ve been avoiding for, like, ever!
Finally, you sit back down at your laptop and put on some music. You try your best to get going, to no avail. At this point, it would be safe to say that you’re lazy or unmotivated. After all, you got that other stuff done.
Maybe not. You might actually be dealing with executive dysfunction.
Executive Dysfunction defined
Before anything else, let’s talk about executive function.
Executive function is a form of cognitive control. It involves impulse control, planning, prioritizing, and other high-level forms of cognition. People rely on their executive functioning skills for many things. Those who have trouble using those skills have executive dysfunction.
Most people experience executive dysfunction from time to time. That happens when they’re bored, fatigued, or stressed. Case in point: Have you ever looked for your glasses or keys, only to find you’ve been holding them all along? That’s an example of executive dysfunction caused by boredom, fatigue, or stress. But such moments aren’t a major cause for concern. They don’t mean a person has underlying mental health or neurological conditions.
Executive dysfunction becomes a clinical issue only when it affects daily life. (Click here for a comprehensive list of clinical symptoms.) Luckily, these days people can take tests to see if they have executive dysfunction. Those tests can also tell if it’s coupled with a mood disorder.
How to deal
Depending on the situation at hand, there are ways to address this condition. Get as much rest as possible, and don’t be shy to ask for help if you need it! Other options include:
- Asking for instructions (oral or written) where possible
- Break long assignments into more manageable “chunks”
- Creating a schedule that’s easy to check throughout the day
- Create checklists
- Keep track of deadlines
- Relying on visual aids to stay organized
- Use helpful tools like watches with alarms and other technology
Executive dysfunction isn’t a dead end. You can lead a productive day-to-day life even if you have it.
Featured Image Daniella Sison