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6 Executive Functioning Tips for a Successful Summer

Ahh, summer…Time to loosen up on executive functions and enjoy life, right?

The problem is, when we loosen up TOO much, we let our time slip away. The end result is that we feel out of control and struggle to truly enjoy the summer.

In Seeing My Time, I teach my clients to change how they think about time. A critical part of that is to stop using the words “free time” and instead say “open time.” This is key, because we don’t attach value to “free” things, and there is absolutely nothing more valuable than your “open” time.

One of my clients was feeling especially consumed by work until he made this mental shift. At his last session, he happily reported that he was staying very conscious of how he used his time during work hours. His goal was not to bring work home to finish.

Now he is always guarding his personal open time. “I remember, Marydee, that we get to LIVE in our open times.” He was grinning ear to ear at the prospect of a weekend with his special person, a weekend without incomplete work clouding his mind.

We should all follow his example when it comes to how we spend our precious “open” summer time. How to do that? Let’s talk about it.

Six Tips for a Satisfying Summer

Lean into your planning. Maintain family meetings to sync calendars, record vacation dates and things like summer camps on a family paper calendar so everyone can see them.

Create packing lists for travel. Create a list for everyone and put them on clipboards. Double-check them before you leave the house. (My young daughter once left her entire suitcase at home – eep!) Your working memory can only hold about what you could write on a sticky note – far less than what needs to fit on your packing list. This will free up mental space to focus on other important things. Create these lists in Google Drive so you can access them for your future travel.

Travel packing list

A packing list means you don’t have to keep the list in your brain

At the beginning of your vacation, communicate expectations to family members and have them set alarms so they show up when they are supposed to. The client I mentioned above used this strategy with his adult sister who was typically late and made everyone wait for her. He was very clear that “the bus” would leave without her and she would have to use Lyft to join the family at the planned day’s event. He grinned and said that strategy worked!

Stay in the present when traveling with family and enjoy each other as you create new memories. Trips are NOT the time to process “issues” so don’t bring up the past nor the future.

Take your planner with you on vacations so that on your flight home, or train ride, you can plan your upcoming week to help you re-enter more easily into your work life.

Don’t book every day of summer! Do book some “open” time for spontaneity. Our souls need this.

May you have a lovely summer,


About the Author Marydee Sklar

Marydee Sklar is the president of Executive Functioning Success and the creator of the Seeing My Time Program® and the Set Up Success and Seeing My Time® planners. She is an educator and author of three books on executive functions, as well as a trainer and speaker. Marydee has more than twenty-five years of experience working with students and adults with executive function challenges.

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