Executive Function for 20-somethings
September 16, 2012 6:31 PM Subscribe
What can I do to improve my executive function
as a 23 year old male?
posted by mccarty.tim to education (15 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
I recovered from an episode with depression a few years ago, and I'm generally better now, but I feel like my executive function, such as ability to motivate myself and apply my skills has not recovered as much as I would like. I basically have less self control and motivation than I would like, if you want the plain english answer, but if you read the wikipedia page, I feel like I'm a little deficient under that umbrella.
Right now, I am in community college majoring in computer science, and I am taking 11 hours, just shy of full time and on track to graduate in a semester or two after this one (depending on available classes once the catalog comes out), and I am working in a retail job part-time as well. I feel like working has helped improve my ability to manage my decisions better, as it's forced me to get used to waking up early (really early, like 4:30 AM) and managing my time in ways that school is not as good at encouraging. Making money is also good reinforcement. I think it also helps that I have a positive attitude about the work and I feel engaged in the job.
However, I am still worried I may be behind other students in my ability to prioritize and manage schoolwork, and I worry about my academic future and future as a whole should I ever face another episode with depression or otherwise have trouble. So far, I am not missing any assignments or anything, but it's only been a few weeks. I have been late a couple times for class by 5-15 minutes, but it's largely been because of underestimating the effect of traffic on my commute, and I'm starting to leave at an earlier time, regardless of how I think the roads "should be." I digress.
I'm already exercising, which I've heard can help with executive function, which strikes me as a bit of a chicken and egg situation, since you need to have some executive function to dedicate time and energy to exercise. I do Couch To 5K, which I did previously a couple months ago to train for a 5K, but stopped shortly after finishing the race. I'm currently three weeks back into it.
I just feel like I'm generally hearing a lot about how "motivation," "self-control," "grit," etc, are turning out to be more important than other natural talents/skills (which I'm sure is true and have always assumed to be true, since you need to apply abilities effectively), but not much on how to develop it other than cliches and worthless expressions like "harden the fuck up." I feel like gamification stuff might be a bit of a red herring, because getting points for doing something feels fun the first week but loses its charm soon after.
In addition, a lot of the advice I find is for helping younger students from a teacher or parent's perspective, while I really want to improve myself now.