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Improve School Performance with Executive Function Skills

School is feeling hard for everyone right now. One easy way to boost your school performance is to improve your executive functioning skills. My top three recommendations are to make a to do list, use a planner to schedule your day, and limit distractions.

After school and before you start your homework, make a to do list with all your assignments that you want to finish that night. You might think, "I don't need to do that, I have it all in my head." No. Do not exaggerate your working memory to be more phenomenal than it already is. Do yourself a favor and write yourself a to do list.

Once you have that list written, make sure to prioritize which item you are going to tackle first. If you are prone to procrastination (yes, that's you Millenials and Gen Z friends), you will want to tackle the hardest or the thing you want to do the least, first. As author of Brain Hacks, Lara Honos-Webb says, you want to eat your frogs first. Once you get over the pain of starting the hardest task, every other task will feel way easier. Trust me.

My next tip is to buy a good planner. Now, you probably have a school planner hanging out in your room under a pile of books, right? Well, it is time to dig it out and start using it! A good planner will have a monthly layout and a weekly layout preferably with enough space to write your homework for each class each day. Write your assignments in your planner everyday so you can keep track. If you have a larger project, schedule time in your planner to work on that project AHEAD OF TIME. Same thing goes for tests. You need to schedule study time into your planner before the test. A planner will help you see how much time you have before the upcoming test.

Finally, limit distractions. I know this sounds annoying, but your brain is not built to multitask. Our brains shift between tasks but not very efficiently. As Stanislaus Dehaene points out in his book How We Learn, "the basic rule in any stands: in any multitask situation, whenever we have to perform multiple cognitive operations under the control of attention, at least one of the operations is slowed down or forgotten altogether." (Dehaene, 2020, 162). In our crazy technology world, we need to retrain out brains to focus on one thing at a time.

I hope these three suggestions help improve your school performance and if there is anything else you want to know about regarding executive functioning skills and school, let me know!

Dehaene, S. (2020). How we learn: Why brains learn better than any machine... for now. Penguin.

Honos-Webb, L. (2018). Brain hacks: Work smarter, stay focused, and achieve your goals. Althea Press.

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