Have you ever wondered why, when you have more work that needs doing, it can become harder to do? If you have ever experienced this paradox, you are by no means alone. This is a phenomenon known as executive malfunction, and it is a well-documented issue, and is experience by people who are ‘neurotypical’, as well as people who experience learning difficulties.
What is Executive Function?
In the world of psychology, executive function is the term used to describe how people’s brains organise tasks and plans, and then execute them in the physical world. When people procrastinate work, it is usually because they are experiencing executive malfunction – in other words, they are having trouble executing the plans that they have formed in their brains.
When an individual experiences these types of issues, it can be frustrating – both for them, and others in their work environment. But there are ways in which people who experience executive malfunction can get better at managing their work. We discussed this with TechQuarters, a London-based Microsoft Solutions Partner, whose business IT support London-based companies have depended on for many years. They have some great tips regarding how to use certain digital tools to improve executive function.
- Use Digital Organisation Tools
If you struggle with organising your work efficiently, then it can be harder to execute tasks properly, the best solution is to start using digital tools to support the organisation of tasks. According to TechQuarters, there are a few different digital tools that can help with organisation, including:
- Digital Notebooks – Being able to write down thought processes and ideas can be a great way of getting perspective, and a clearer idea of one’s workload. Rather than going through reams of paper writing notes, individuals can use digital notebook apps, such as Microsoft OneNote – which is cloud-based, and supports plain and rich text, drawings, chats, lists and tables, links, images, audio recordings, and multi-media.
- Streamline Task Planning and Prioritisation
Knowing what work you have to do is one thing, but being able to plan the order of tasks, including prioritising tasks, can be difficult if you have problems with executive function. There are many good ways in which users can streamline task planning, and make things easier for themselves:
- Digital To-Do Lists – Perhaps the simplest form of task management solution, a to-do list enables users to break their work down into a small increments as they like – sometimes breaking a task down into smaller actions can make it easier to complete the task. According to TechQuarters, Microsoft To Do is a very effective digital to-do list app.
- Kanban Board Apps – A Kanban board is a method of displaying tasks in a visual way. A Kanban board contains cards – and each card contains a task. Within a card, you can add a list of as many actions that form a task. Many people like Kanban boards, because the visual aspect makes it easier to digest and manage their work. TechQuarters recommends Microsoft Planner for Kanban-style task management.
- Calendar Apps – A calendar is a tried and true method of organising work. It allows you to assign timeframes for work by arranging deadlines throughout your week that you can see. Modern calendar apps allow you to colour-code activities and events in your schedule, to make it easier to digest your workload. TechQuarters recommend Microsoft Outlook, which has an integrated Calendar solution.
- Shared Team Workspaces – Sometimes, accountability can help with executive function. If a user feels like they are isolated in their work, it can become harder to galvanise themselves to get work down. It has been proven time and time again that teamwork is better for productivity. Some users may find it helpful to use a shared team workspace where they can upload their work, post updates, and keep connected with their colleagues. TechQuarters, who have acted as SharePoint consultants for many clients, recommend the platform for this time of collaboration and progress tracking.