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Dr. Thomas Brown, a clinical psychologist who specializes in assessment & treatment of ADHD & related problems, has a different way of looking at executive functions. Today we are going to speak about Activation. Activation is how you get started on a project. Activation includes things like getting organized, prioritizing tasks, and getting started on your task.

Many times, activation is done without thinking about it. You see a cookie, want to eat it, pop it in your mouth. Done!

But what happens when there is a bigger task?

I like to view things in life like a puzzle. Some things we do, like eating a cookie, are like those baby puzzles with two big pieces. Connect the two and done. Really easy. Other things are like ten piece puzzles, think going for a walk, or putting in a load of laundry. Some like a 100 piece puzzle, such as grocery shopping, and some things in life are 5000 piece puzzles, like that term paper that you need to do researching ten different primary sources and pulling it all together.

Luckily for us, the system is the same whether we are doing a two piece puzzle or a 5000+ piece puzzle. Let’s break it down into steps.

Step one: Identify your goal. What do you need/ want to do?

Step two: Organize yourself. What do you need to do to prepare for what you need to do?

Step three: Prioritize. When are you going to do the preparation? When are you going to do each part of what you need to do.

To demonstrate this practically, let’s plan dinner. Everyone needs to eat and plan for it multiple times a day.

Manny needs to eat dinner tonight. He identifies his goal as dinner being ready by 5pm. He then has to organize himself to get there. He has to decide what he wants to eat for dinner, what ingredients he needs to have on hand, and how much time he needs to prepare and cook his meal. Lastly, he has to prioritize his day, so that he can meet his goal. What will he do and when?

So Manny decides he wants to eat meatballs and spaghetti for dinner at 5 pm. He checks his fridge and pantry and has all the ingredients on hand. The meatballs take an hour and a half to cook and a few minutes to prepare. The spaghetti cooks in 11 minutes once the water is boiled. Manny starts preparing the meatballs at 3 o’clock and by 3:30, they are simmering on the stove. He then has a break from dinner prep until 4:30 when he puts the water up to boil for the spaghetti. Dinner is served on time at 5pm.

What are you going to plan out today? How can you use the three step formula for success? What questions can you ask yourself to help you Identify, Organize, and Prioritize?

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