Improving Work Performance and Executive Function

My daughter is a lovely young woman who teaches fourth grade in a dual language program. She uses checklists for her day-to-day tasks, keeps her work area ready to plan lessons, and reviews every day tasks that she needs to complete during the week. All of these skills she learned while navigating the public school system.

They were necessary since she regularly lost her homework, left her lunch sitting on the kitchen counter, and frequently had to return home several times before events since her things were still sitting by the door. How did she learn to become more efficient? We used the SRO method ~ Simplify, Routinize, and Organize.

Simplify simply means to break overly complex activities into step by step job tasks. We kept the steps written down as a checklist and she checked off each task as it was completed. She felt a sense of accomplishment every time there was a checkmark and tasks were completed on time.

Routinize creates procedures for each task. Every time she brought home a project, we created a timeline, made a list of materials needed, and established a completion date. When my son was younger, we created a notebook of the steps needed for each household chore and what the expectations were once the task was completed.

Finally, we learned to organize our day, week, and month. Our family kept a family calendar that had all of our commitments located on it and every Sunday evening we sat down as a family to update it. We all discussed what was happening that week and where there might be “hiccups.” Our home also had a work area that was free of clutter and we kept materials that needed to be used for homework and projects in supply.

Children and teens who struggle with Executive Function skills need support in learning how to learn efficiently. For more information about improving work performance, Peg Dawson and Richard Guare have written Smart, But Scattered:The Revolutionary Executive Skills Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential or read Russell Barkley’s Executive Functions: What They Are, How They Work, and Why They Evolved.