As part of my online training course for professionals, the Teaching the Seeing My Time Program, I offer two live Q&A sessions. I love this opportunity to address participants’ questions about teaching executive function skills. But at a recent live Q&A, a course participant asked a question that froze my brain: “With COVID19’s impacts on everyone’s daily routine, what executive function challenges do you forecast will be most pressing/challenging as we begin returning to our in-person lives?”
For a moment, all I could think was: “There is going to be a post-COVID time?” For a few seconds, I couldn’t imagine that possibility in order to answer the question. Then my brain kicked into gear and the answer came quickly. The challenge in returning to in-person learning will be to jump-start the executive function of future thinking.
For over an entire year, the executive skills of planning and prioritization, aspects of future thinking, have taken a back seat to the demands of daily survival in a highly unpredictable world. Planning and goal setting have been very difficult, if not impossible, to implement. Even for me, the goal pages of my 2021 Seeing My Time planner were empty through March. I wrote vacation dates (not plans) lightly in pencil. Who knew what could or would really happen?
Thankfully, spring is here and many of us have gotten one, or both, of our COVID vaccinations. It’s time to pick that future thinking back up and begin – tentatively – to plan. Here are some great pointers for anyone who feels rusty with this practice.
When it comes to my own future thinking, I have started writing down my goals in my planner. I am making plans to visit my daughter after she moves to California from DC. And most incredibly, I am planning my son’s 36th birthday party in my home. He loves rhubarb so here’s the pastry I shall make. What a joy to be able to plan and share food with my circle of loved ones!!!!
So, my friends, as your world begins to open up more, remember to support your brain’s planning and prioritization executive skills. Get out your planner and write some short-term goals. Break those goals into smaller doable steps. Put the steps into your monthly and weekly calendar pages. Transfer some of those steps to your day plan. This is putting into practice the term “little by little.” Future thinking is about breaking things down into small steps, taking action, and rewarding ourselves for the work. You’ve got this!
Little by little…
Marydee Sklar is the president of Executive Functioning Success and the creator of the Seeing My Time Program®. 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.