Episode 27: Executive Functions at Work - The Personal Brain Trainer Podcast

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Executive Functions at Work

Executive Functions at Work

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Welcome to the Personal Brain Trainer Podcast.

I'm Dr. Erica Warren and I'm Darius Namdaran and we're your hosts.  Join us on an adventure to translate the scientific jargon and brain research into simple metaphors and stories for everyday life.  We explore executive functions and learning strategies that help turbocharge the mind. Come learn how to steer around the invisible barriers so that you can achieve your goals.  This podcast is ideal for parents, educators, and learners of all ages.

This podcast is brought to you by Bullet Map Academy. We have free dyslexia screener app called dyslexia quiz.  It's a fun, engaging and interactive app.  Try it now.  Just search for dyslexia quiz on the app store and see how your score differs from your friends and family.

This podcast is brought to you by www.goodsensorylearning.com where you can find educational and occupational therapy lessons and remedial materials that bring delight to learning.

Finally, you can find Dr Warren's many courses at www.learningspecialistcourses.com .  Come check out our newest course on developing executive functions and study strategies.

Darius, tell us a little bit about what we're going to be talking about this week.

Erica: I wanted to run by what you thought about executive functions at work and how executive function can affect you at work and what you can do at work to help with that. Because my business is very much focused around executive function at work over here in the UK, and I just think it's fascinating to think about the practical impact in your work life rather than the abstract.

I love that because as long as it's abstract, we can't really find the tools that we need to move through whatever difficulties we have.

So what I'd like to do is I want to really speak to the type of person who it's about. It's not about looking at the workplace what you would do as an employer to help other people's executive function, but what you would do for yourself as an individual in the workplace if you think that you've got some executive differences and difficulties.

So, for example, you might have some ADHD or dyslexia that comes along with some executive function difficulties, or you might just simply have executive function difficulties.

As we know, there are three areas that it affects working memory, inhibitory control, and cognitive flexibility. But how does that translate into the workplace, and I came up with three things, right? Tell me what you think. I think it affects three core areas in people's work lives. Number one, showing up for things. Number two being prepared for things. And number three how you contribute. For example, myself, sometimes I double book things. Sometimes I forget appointments. Sometimes I don't even look at my calendar. It's a crazy confession, I think. And maybe some of you who are listening might relate to this. There's been years where I haven't used the calendar properly. I've just relied on my wife or work colleagues or routine and just remembering things happening last minute and so forth, and it's so surprising how you just improvise along the way. But when you do that, things fall through the cracks. So I'd really like to talk about those three areas of showing up being prepared and contributing. What your thoughts?

I love that I love that because it's very practical also, just to step back and give people a little bit of idea of what we're talking about, too, is that when we're talking about executive functioning, we're talking about things like planning, time management and organization.

I think those are the three general areas that it's going to impact you.

So when you think of executive functioning and some of you that may not have been involved in our prior discussions about executive functioning.  The way it really impacts us in the workplace, I think it tends to be in those three areas. What do you think?

Planning, time management?

And I think it also affects how you contribute in that how you manage writing. How do you write notes? How do you send an email memo? How do you write a proposal? All these sorts of things can be significantly impacted by executive functioning skills as well.

And you might have dyslexia. And obviously the written word side of things might affect it, but also the executive functioning of how you feel focus in on particular topics and priorities information and emphasis certain things, rather than just being one continuous long stream of consciousness that the person says yes, all there.

But I'm totally confused still, about what the main priority is or whether the questions being answered, I think the whole-time management side of things is again where you see it the most, obviously.

But underneath that, in the hidden realms, it also affects other areas.

I think one area that's really popping up for me that we don't often think about, which is a big piece of executive functioning is emotional regulation.

Because if we're not able to regulate our emotions well in the workplace, it can really get in the way of our performance.

It gets in the way of us being able to work as a team member, and it can really disturb the community part of a workplace.

Okay, so let's break it down into three segments, then let's talk about showing up.

And then let's talk about being prepared and then making a contribution as separate segments.

Yeah, so showing up the principle of showing up is to turn up to meetings on time.

Let's just state the obvious.

It is important to show up, turn up on time, but often with executive function.

Sometimes people say, Oh, I'm so sorry.

I double booked or I didn't have it in my diary, or I've misjudged how much time it would take to get here.

I had a big project before this or that.

There are so many consequences, and you can do that only so many times with people before they go.

Look, I'm not happy working like this.

I'm moving to another environment or another person.

I think in the early years I've noticed with people in their twenties, you can be very good at what you do and not so good at the time management executive function stuff.

And so you get forgiven a lot.

It's like he's really good at his job.

Okay, fine.

He's sometimes misses appointments and things like that, but he gets it done.


He's a grafter and so on.

But then often I've noticed that people get into their sort of thirties, and they've got a little bit more responsibility, and there may be a charge of somebody or a team or a larger responsibility.

And then the executive function weaknesses really start showing up, and the impact is often on their family life at the weekend because it all gets dragged into the weekend, there may be stressed out their wife gets pulled into it.

or the husband gets pulled into it.

There's just so many knock-on consequences that you don't always see in the workplace.

But you start feeling in the soft areas of your life, which is after work, and work just starts to mushroom into stuff after work.

So the answer to showing up fundamentally is to fall in love with your calendar.

And that is really a strange thing for me to say, because I've had to actually work on enjoying using my calendar.

And there's got to be a joy in whatever tool you use.

It's like a woodworker.

You take joy in the acts that you've got or the chisel or the electric drill or whatever.

There's got to be a joy, a pleasure to it, so that you keep using it.

There's nothing like having a tool that just irritates you and frustrates you and resists you.

And a lot of people with executive function difficulties do not like calendars, right, But I honestly do believe that there's a calendar out there for everybody.

There are so many options.

There are voice options, their visual options.

There are so many different ways you can sequence.

You can see the big picture through webs.

It's just amazing to me.

And if you don't like one calendar, they're going to be 50 other presentations out there until you find one that you're like, Oh, my God, This works.

This so resonates with me.

And it took me a really long time to find my calendar.

What did you end up with?

What do you use now?

Google calendar?

I love Google Calendar now.

Yeah, get better.

You know what was interesting?

I met with one of my clients.

I do workplace strategy coaching for people with dyslexia and ADHD in the UK But one of my clients is a florist, and she uses everything, Mac and I love that, but we found a limitation with Mac calendar.

Okay, Matt Calendar will set up one alert on an event, and I'm like, that is not enough for me.

I've got a bit of ADHD.

So what I do is I set up the calendar event with to automatic alerts.

I don't even think about it.

Always alerts me 10 minutes before and three minutes before because what I found is I often think Oh, yeah, I've got a meeting in 10 minutes.

I'll go and have a quick break before I do it a bit of a brain break, and then I can get distracted and missed the meeting, even though 10 minutes before, I was ready for not miss it completely.

But it might be five minutes or 10 minutes late, which is just rude and disrespectful.

And so there's three minutes alert is the key one for me.

I need that three-minute alert.

That's like, oh, yeah, I've got to do it right now and not go and do something else and come back.

That's so funny because I use three alerts.

Do you?

What are your three?

I think about the situation first, and sometimes I send myself a combination of just an alert that comes up on my computer versus an email.

The email ones are much more reliable because sometimes I have my notifications shut down, right?

That's one of my personal problems is that when I'm in a flow, or like even when we're doing a podcast and it goes over because I'm just in a flow?

Sometimes I've turned off all my notifications, and so I lose track of time and that can become an issue.

So I have to kind of hit myself from multiple locations.

And so, yes, I'll send myself email notifications.

I'll send myself visual notifications, and I look at specifically what it is.

If it's a really important appointment or event like jury duty, I might give myself a week before a couple of days before and then 10 minutes before I also use my Amazon echo.

And I'll give myself to reminders that I have a session coming up or something like that, so that even if I'm in an important meeting, that will speak up and I'll be like, oh, I got to go largely for me because I do use that feature of shutting down technology so that I can focus.

I think one of the key returns on investments in investing your attention and time into the calendar is having alerts. It alerts you. It helps you be confident that you will show up by having a calendar and looking at it every day, and I'm sorry to state the most obvious ridiculous statement like that.

But sometimes if you're highly creative individual, you've got some executive function issue, Dyslexia, or ADHD.

It comes with this fluidity of thought, and often you get lost in what you're doing, and you need the calendar to keep you on track. And the wonderful thing about having a calendar also is that you start taking ownership of your own life rather than other people.

And this is a bit of weird one to say.


But sometimes if you've got a partner or a boss or whatever, and they go look, I'll just do it.

And then they start putting stuff into your calendar and you start realizing Hold on a minute.

I'm showing up and turning up.

I've lost control of my own time.

Oh, you're going out on Thursday night and doing this or you're doing this and you're doing that and you're like, All right, Okay, fine.

At least I'm getting what I'm meant to be done.


But you start to lose empowerment, and having a calendar is really quite empowering and just the discipline of looking at least once a day.

And that sounds ridiculous to people are used to using calendars.

But some of you who are listening might be, gosh, I feel really guilty, but I don't actually use a calendar.

Start using a calendar, start falling in love with it and have two reasons.

Reason Number one.

It will remind you and notify you and take away the fear of letting someone down.

And reason Number two.

You will start feeling like you've got more time and control of your own life and you'll actually feel more like a grown up.

We're all trying to be grown-ups, but we're faking it until we make it even.

I'm 52 I'm still faking until I make it.

That calendar is really useful for that now.

One other thing is workplace strategy coaching I want to talk to you about.

But what?

Your thoughts on that?


I mean, I think calendars are incredibly important, and I think that they can really become that personal assistant.

But you're still the executive.

Yes, it's literally the executive talk about executive functioning.

Calenda Ring is being the executive of time.

This is just a funny little thing just to share with you on the side for the last I think 25 years I've been working as an executive function coach and learning specialist, and I just had this realization, which is just so ridiculous that my address and my office is 100 Executive Boulevard.

Really, it's been there all along.

It's so bizarre that I never made that connection.

But I made that connection relatively recently, and one of my students came in yesterday and said, Erika, did you realize that your office is on Executive Boulevard and you're an executive function coach was like I did.

But funnily enough, I didn't realize that until fairly recently.

It's a funny little a little story to tell and talking about coaching.

Okay, you might be thinking, Obviously, they will say how important it is to get some executive function coaching, but actually, the reason why we do it is because we realize how important it is for people.

And one of the things that I've just realized is that having someone help you estimate time.

It's incredible how many people with dyslexia ADHD or have executive function difficulties find it difficult to estimate time.

And sometimes we need to sit down and just say, Let's go through your tasks.

How long will that take?

And they'll say, oh, I'll take half an hour and then I say, how long will it really take?

And they go.

I wanted to take half an hour, but it's going to take half an hour to get all the stuff out and then 15 minutes to coordinate with such and such and then half an hour to do it and probably half an hour to clean up.

So that's an hour and a half.

And I'm like, why don't we schedule three half hour segments?

Prepare, do, and sit down and you go, Yeah, I'll do that.

And then you keep doing that.

And it's amazing when you start estimating the time a little bit more realistically, thinking it through and get rid of this sort of magical, wishful thinking that it will suddenly work.

It brings a lot of peace.

It does.

I can say that I haven't been doing executive functioning coaching this whole 25 years, but it's really become more and more of a focus over the years, and I've been getting better and better at it.

But I can say that my goodness, I see these profound shifts in people when they do this kind of coaching, just a sense of letting go of anxiety, just a sense of being able to be in control, that sense of finding joy again in their work or their learning.

And sometimes it's a matter of really evaluating what you're doing.

Is this something that is joyful?

And if not, how can we shift you into something that is joyful?

Because if you're doing something that you love to do, you never really work.

You're just in a sense of flow and joy, and that's what work should be.

A sense of flow and joy.

And sometimes you need to schedule in five hours to be in the flow of something creative or working or whatever, so that your automatic scheduling app or someone in your office doesn't book something in at 2:30 in the afternoon, right bang in the middle of your flow or whatever.

Yeah, this seems so trivial compared to like you might be a medical consultant or a chief executive or manager or quantity, surveyor or whatever.

These are all typical people that might be talking with, and they're really good at what they do.

But then these small things like the calendar, can trip them up, and time management can trip them up.

It can make you look so incompetent, but you are highly competent.

But the funny thing is, sometimes people look for obvious clues to how competent you are.

They look at your spelling and say, oh, that person is not taking care with where they're writing.

So if they're not taking care with that, how much are they not taking care of stuff that I can't see?

It's often quite the opposite.

They're really good at what you can't see.

But when it comes to the basic low grade clerical work, which often school is obsessed with rather than the creative, active work that the world really needs, we judge people that by the low-grade clerical work, whereas they might be an incredible surgeon or an incredible researcher or whatever and one of those things that they're used to look at as a key performance indicator is: are they showing up?

I love that you're right.

All of these executive functioning things that we need to do throughout the day really are how people judge us in many ways.

Yeah, they're looking at them as key performance indicators.

Yes, the other thing is, it also impacts them.

Some will just get really frustrated because they don't have the time to wait around for you to get your act together.

We'll move on without you.

I was watching a podcast with Elon Musk, and he was like, I'm having to reevaluate how I used my time sometimes because he was in a meeting and he spent five minutes evaluating one particular aspect of the business, and it added £100 million to the value of the business.

Those five minutes, so like his every five minutes, becomes worth £5 million at least where he deploys.

That becomes critical in his attention, and that's a very extreme example.

The point I'm making is where you put your attention is very important and the monetary value of being good at executive functions.

So if you could really be good at executive functions, you can make a much better living.

Yeah, I mean, the return on investments massive the return on investment on a tool that helps with the executive function like a calendar.

By the way, I want to backtrack a little bit on the calendar side of things.

You could go digital in terms of a computer phone calendar.

You could also go paper, hand, draw a calendar and have a file of fax or some sort of paper planner that you carry around everywhere.

That's still fine, and that's really a great joy for many people to draw pictures in color code things, handwrite things in etcetera.

Or you could go the middle route and do it on an iPad, where you've got the handwritten experience and a lot of people use digital planners, which are PDF versions of them, and they can't draw.

And there's a whole range there that you can tap into.

And then I love what you are creating.

You're creating an app right now, which is like a verbal planner.

Yes, that's right. Yes, which is totally different.

I love that because if I'm in the car and I think of something, I can just verbally say it and then it's saved where I want it.

Well, that leads us onto the second topic, which is being prepared, and when I say prepared is like, imagine you've shown up to a meeting or you've shown up to a time when you're going to work.

I often find myself and that other clients of executive function difficulties are often just winging it and improvising.

They can be so gifted at what they're doing.

They just improvise all the time.

And that can only take you so far before you realize Oh my goodness, I'm in a repeating pattern here.

I'm redoing a conversation I had in the last meeting.

Why am I doing that?

Because I forgot we had that conversation before, and that's the whole point of taking notes.

And sometimes it's helpful to have the difficulty yourself to teach someone this.

My wife is super organized, super prepared, super linear thinker doesn't have these executive functioning difficulties.

I do, and so I have to become so much more intentional about it, so it becomes easier to teach it.

But I still have the difficulties, so I talk from experience.

Sometimes I turn up to meetings and I don't have notes of the previous meetings, and you end up having the same conversation over and over again.

Yeah, it's funny.

Before you hopped on the podcast, I was talking about house in this flow of writing about conscious learning.

So much of this is if you want to be the executive of your executive functions, then you want to be conscious.

A friend of mine said, “The enemy of focus is habit.”

We want to be focused.

However, if we're stuck in habits, we lose that consciousness.

So as much as I like to learn things as we've talked about in an automatic way to automaticity and how great that is because in your subconscious takes over and does it, we lose that control, yes, and we lose that creativity.

We lose that growth.

We have to decide what aspects of our life are we going to put on autopilot and what aspects are we going to be creative and focused in on very intentional.

And we just have to drop into that conscious space consciously.

We almost have to put it in our calendar to have conscious moments, because it's amazing how we can go into autopilot for almost the whole day, and the other thing we've got to do is we've got to consciously place really good things in our subconscious.

So one thing I've been doing personally is really trying to create a healthy, conscious practice that I go through every morning.

That keeps me in a better cognitive space throughout the whole day.

So I'm trying to now take things out of my subconscious and replace it with healthier routines and habits.

Yeah, going to the three main areas that we're talking about is showing up prepared and contributing.

We're talking about being prepared, and I think the key thing with being prepared and executive function skills is taking notes.

And again, I'm stating the most obvious thing in the whole world.

But taking notes with executive function skills is your best friend.

Your calendar is your friend, and taking notes is your friend.

You need notes and whatever way you want to take them.

But take notes of what you're doing and don't always rely on your memory, right and I would throw in.

The other piece that's really important is to have those moments of being conscious yes, being conscious and consciously preparing so you can take mental notes to yes, and you can use memory strategies for those mental notes.

And you can have auditory notes, yes, and so that you have this constant feedback to keep you on track.

Yeah, I like the book getting things done, and one of the things that he talks about in that book is having a bucket.

And that bucket is where everything goes.

All your notes, all your emails, all your letters or whatever, even a physical bucket where you just throw bits paper into it.

And then you sort out at your own convenience once a week or once a day or once a month, or whenever you want to go through stuff and be conscious about what you're going to do about it.

I would suggest taking notes by hand on an iPad or on paper, a journal of some sort paper notes.

Audio notes on your phone.

I like taking notes with a mind map, mind mapping software or mind mapping by hand and also using your phone a lot.

Taking audio notes and notes on your phone, etcetera.

Apple is really good.

I only know the apple ecosystem.

It's really good at just keeping all of your notes.

Sync between your phone, your iPad, your laptop, etcetera across all devices.

So most of the time you've got access to something, you can search it.

iPad is really good because you can actually search your handwritten notes as well through optical character recognition.

Gone are the days where you go.

Oh, I left that note pad from two months ago in my office, and it's got an important note in it.

So I highly recommend even photographing the handwritten notes that you're doing and just popping them into your notes so that your optical character recognition and your computer can find them for you.

And that means that you can just do a quick search so that you could type in dog food, for example, because maybe you wanted to find a note that you had on this amazing dog food, and then you can find it very quickly.

I think another important thing under being prepared is to be conscious about bringing in that organization again, but also getting rid of clutter.

I have this practice of getting rid of clutter, probably once a week.

So no matter what I do, I seem to clutter builds up on my desk, and I'm trying to get into a practice of clearing the clutter more and more often.

So it really doesn't happen because I feel that if my spaces cluttered than my mind is a little bit cluttered, and I also like to go through my house and pick up things and say, Do I love it?

If I don't love it, I let it go.

I give it away, I get rid of it because again, I want to have minimal distractions, minimal clutter because it just clears the energy around myself.

And within my mind, I keep going online and I find all these tools and I come right back to the paper, and I have these little, long lists of paper that I have.

Yeah, that is one of the problems with doing that.

And I love the idea, taking pictures of them so that you can access that information at a later date.

That's a really lovely idea, but I think it goes back to that handwriting or, for example, even I'm taking notes right now as we're talking and I don't want to type because I don't want to make the noise, and I know a pen doesn't make any noise so I can write my ideas down anyway to get back to that whole idea of preparing the notes is very important, but also just getting yourself in that space.

Am I prepared, bringing in that inner voice and saying, Am I prepared?


This also spills into Is research is part of being prepared.

Sometimes you need to go and research something before you show up and to be a more effective contributor and find solutions.

I've got a friend who has dyslexia but denies it even exists, but it's quite apparent in his own life.

We laugh about all the time, but recently I know that he has difficulty reading a book.

And so what I did was I went through the whole book, and I scanned in 50 of the 250 pages of it, and I sent it to him as a PDF with underlying highlights and so on for him what to focus in on.

But he wouldn't open it up, he said.

Just tell me what chapters I've got to dip into, and I'm like, well, I've got it all there in a PDF.

And he says he didn't even want to open up the pdf to find the three-chapter headings.

And he said, I've got that sort of this something or rather or whatever ridiculous thing it is.

And I don't like reading and so on, and I said, yes, I do.

But I also know that if he was transparent about it, he could have taken an app out taken that PDF and got it read to him from that text to voice app that anyone can download and use.

So if you know the right technology that helps you be prepared for a meeting, you don't need to read it.

You can get it, read out to you and you go all right, I'm prepared.

When I show up, I'm prepared.

It's so helpful.

Sometimes people resist the label of dyslexia or ADHD your executive function because they think, What's the point?

I'm just a bit different.

We all think differently.

But sometimes those differences can get in the way and become a difficulty.

And sometimes that difficulty can become a disability and lock you out of accessing some possibility within a meeting or a relationship.

Because you're not prepared is really such a joy turning up to a meeting, and sometimes if you've got executive function difficulties, you can be so used to just showing up and improvising all the time that it can be quite exhausting.

Yeah, you're right.

And there are these people that maybe you have learning disabilities or difficulties that really make it difficult to read.

But you always have the option of audio books.

You have the option of YouTube.

YouTube is an incredible resource.

There are those people that create book summaries that are animated you can get these resources in so many different ways, really working with somebody that can help you find these other ways of processing really important so that we can find the tools for you because that's what it comes down to is not everybody needs the same tools.

There are going to be people that say no taking notes to doesn't work for me.

And if that's the case, okay, then what does?

Finding your tools is what's most important.

Absolutely, I agree, and we've been talking about tech and training all the way along in this conversation and through our podcast, the importance of the partnership between the two.

Sometimes you need a bit of technology, and then you need to learn how to use it, and sometimes you can do that yourself, and sometimes it's helpful to have someone else to come along and say, did you realize this can do that?

And they go, oh, I didn't realize that, Thank you very much.

Oh, we're always turning each other on two different tools So many crazy cool tools out there and it's part of our job to stay on top of those.

And we love to hear about Newt tools that can help us the process in different ways.

But I know we have some time limitations today, so let's move on to your third one, which is contributing, yes.

So we've looked at showing up prepared and then contributing.

And actually, I often think people with executive function difficulties are often very good contributors, Ironically, because they're good at improvising, good at thinking on their feet, good at being adaptive.

Maybe etcetera depends on your cognitive flexibility, of course, but one of these three areas of showing up being prepared and contributing will be a strength, and a couple of those will probably be a weakness.

But let's talk about how executive functions can affect the way you contribute.

When you're talking about contribute, tell us exactly what you.

Okay, so you're in a meeting and you want to contribute something valuable to the meeting or after a meeting and you've decided something, and you need to write a proposal or do so talking points or do some minutes or a report or a summary.

Or then maybe you need to get to the point where you actually need to get stuff done.

You need to project manage something.

You need to have some task management sides of things.

You need to set some goals, targets, milestones, and things like that.

Those are all part of starting to contribute.

And I think part of contribute is also expressing your ideas.

But another, which is the opposite idea of contributing is being a good listener contributing by creating a space?

Yeah, creating a space that other people can contribute to because there are those people that don't really know what they're thinking until they've said it.

Oh, I love that I like that a lot.

But we have to be careful that we not only express our own ideas, but we give everybody else the space and opportunity to express theirs, and that we're not holding onto our thoughts when we're allowing other people to express their ideas, but that we let those ideas go maybe because we wrote them down, and that way we can really listen.

Otherwise, the conversations stays in one place, and everybody is just saying over and over again what they're thinking.

What you want to do is you want to take the conversation up a notch.

I mean, that's one of the things I love about our relationship is that we, as a team working together, go to different and better and higher places through our conversations because we build on top of each other's ideas.

And we have to stay open to that by letting go of our thoughts so that we can really hear someone else's thoughts.

And we can build and get creative and move to new, higher places.

You've made me think about something that I've observed happened with some of the Children that I've talked to mind map at school.

What's interesting is there's this beautiful moment that happens in school when a child learns to mind map, and the moment is when a teacher asks a group of Children to write down their ideas and then share it back to the class.

Have you ever been in that situation?

The teacher says, split off into groups of three.

Just talk through your general ideas and opinions and so on.

And then one person shares back to the group What the group's been saying Now here's how it normally happens the wrong way.

What happens is the three people get together, share their own thoughts and ideas.

One person then represents those ideas back to the central group, and that one person normally just talks mostly about their own ideas and a few from the others.

What's interesting is this is the normal way it happens in school.

The teacher goes like this.

I want you to stop for a couple of minutes and just think on your own about what we did the last time.

Right down a few ideas.


Two minutes are over.

I want you to go and share those ideas with the child next to you, and they can share with you.

You do a little brainstorm together two or three.


Then the teacher will say those groups all share them with me and I'll put them on the board, and we'll have a full summary of what everyone's thinking and experiencing from before, and the teacher can see where the gaps in the student's knowledge are.

That's just a nice little workflow.

Okay, when a child can mind map, this is what happens.

The child mind maps their own thoughts out.

Just a quick sketch of 10 or 15 little keywords branching out.

They then speak to the person the people round about them for 23 minutes and add their ideas in, and it grows into a bigger picture as they add it in there.

The teacher then asks the summary, and they go through their map and talk through their map and give a balanced summary of everything that everyone is speaking about.

And what happens is magic in that moment, because in that moment the other two people in the group feel like they've been heard and represented to the teacher.

And when a person does that, they become a true leader because number one they listened.

Number two.

They wrote down the key ideas of what they did and recorded them, and then they pulled it all together into one cohesive summary and summarized it better than the whole conversation sometimes because it's all been written and structured, and the moment a person can do that, they automatically move into a leadership position because that's what a group wants.

Isn't that interesting?

It is.

Can we change, contribute to contribute, and collaborate?

Maybe we should just change it to collaborate.

Oh, yeah, yeah, sometimes where you're just contributing and they're sometimes where you are collaborating, and I think both of them are valuable.

They are.

But maybe we just need to expand our understanding of contribute to be collaborating.

Maybe that's just the limitation of your default of thinking about what contributing is that contribution is just an individualistic contribution.

That's my contribution rather than collaboration, is part of contributing.

I love that.

So then we're going to change it to three things.

Showing up, preparing, and collaborating.

Okay, what is interesting is if you are taking good notes in the meeting, so you show up you're taking good notes in the meeting.

Often, if you've got executive function difficulties, you might be the type of person who likes to verbally process, who likes to talk through things and can sometimes dominate a meeting without realizing it because you're verbally processing too much and it can come across like you're being selfish, domineering, patronizing.

If you think that you need to be talking all this much, do you think you're better than us that we have got less to say or whatever It can be so misinterpreted, whereas if you're taking really good notes and I'm not talking about long lists of notes I'm talking about, maybe you're doodling.

Maybe you're doing a hand drawn mind map.

Maybe you're doing a diagram of what people are saying, but you're really mentally processing it and listening and engaged.

Often you can do exactly what you're talking about.

Erica, you're creating a listening environment.

You maybe not talking so much, but you really are engaging and absorbing.

And then when you talk your reflecting back, what that person saying and then adding in your own thought, Yeah, and many of these people that process verbally out loud they need to process out loud.

And the question is, can we shift them into using tools where they feel like they still are processing?

In other words, they can kind of either use their inner voice or because if you're using your inner voice and you're not really actively listening, but yeah, being able to take those notes so they can let it go, but it's still there.

But I think for everybody it's going to be different.

How can we get you to process and also contribute and also work as a community and collaborate?

But I think it's going to be different for everybody.

You can read books and you can take pieces that resonate with you.

Look for the things even within this podcast that resonate with you and then create a toolbox for yourself.

Part of contributing or collaborating is not just the written side of right reports and summarizing what you're saying and all of that sort of jazz, which is painfully required for me anyway.

But the real juice is getting it done, setting a goal, breaking it down into projects, setting the task going and getting the tasks done.

So you need the tools like task management tools like asana, maybe goal setting tools like a vision board or other ways of setting a high-level goal like smart goals specific, measurable, actionable and time bound S m a r T realistic is in there, if you've not heard of that, too.

Useful acronym.

Smart Talk a bit about solutions, tech solutions and training solutions that you use for task management, project management, goal setting and writing.

What sort of things come to the top of your head when you hear that I have definitely my own approach I use for writing.

I use Google keep because it enables me to organize my ideas for task setting.

I often go back to just writing things out, an old-fashioned list of writing but also type.

What I love about typing is that you can move your ideas around and add information in, so I kind of go back to old school ways.

I occasionally use these other tools, but I sometimes end up going back to those old school ways.

But I do love the idea of taking photographs of things so that things are findable that really resonates with me.

I use asana quite a lot for task management and goal setting writing.

I use a lot of voice to text.

If you want to do a quick summary of a meeting like for example, tying all of this in you might say at the end of a meeting or something, you say, Let's meet next Thursday.

You create it in your calendar, you put an alert in your calendar, and then in the notes of that meeting, you click description, and you just type out voice to text with Serie A quick description of what you want to do in that meeting.

And hey, presto, in those 30 seconds, what have you done?

You've ensured that you show up because you've got the time and the notifications.

You ensure that you're prepared because you've done a little note in that event to remind you of what you're going to do in that meeting.

Then when you turn up at that, you probably contribute even better because you've shown up, you're a little bit prepared and you can move it on the next step.

Yeah, and I really like voice to text to, because you're not having to think about handwriting.

You're not having to think about typing.

You're not having to think about spelling.

That's a big one for me to not have to worry about spelling and again many of the voice to text things that you say it doesn't really matter if it's really just for you, anyway.

As an example, case study as it were, there's this government grant in the UK called access to work.

It's just blows me away in the UK What does it take to actually implement these executive functioning strategies for people who think differently?

And sometimes we're a bit casual about it.

But the UK governments actually sat down and thought about this, and they've got this grant called access to work for people who have got ADHD or dyslexia, and what they'll do is they will give you a combination of technology, training, strategy, coaching and even awareness training.

And they will pay for all.

And I'll just give you a quick summary of what they would do for a person who might be saying, oh, I've got some difficulties with executive functioning that come as a result, My ADHD, or dyslexia.

Now, obviously people have executive function difficulties without ADHD and dyslexia as well.

But let's just say you had ADHD and dyslexia in the workplace.

This is what they would do.

Number one.

They would give you tech.

They would pay for some time management software.

They would pay for voice to text software text to voice software, mind mapping software about 2 to £300 for each.

So that's about £1000 they would pay for second.

They would pay for training.

They would pay for about £250 for four hours of training on each one of those Software.

Just so you know all the functions of those softwires rather than just giving you it.

And then they will also give you training for the accessibility functions on your own iPhone or computer, all those hidden accessibility stuff that already there and it doesn't stop there.

Then they give you, like 10 hours of workplace strategy coaching to help you strategically apply it in your workplace.

Isn't that crazy?

It's amazing.

I wish they had something like that in states.

But even if you are in the States and you want that kind of support, Darius can give it to you.

Yeah, I can, and others can do it as well.

And I'm not trying to.

This is not a pitch for me at all, but what I really want people to get from this is it's important that you replicate something like that for yourself.


It's great that the government does that for some people, and you go through the process of grants, etcetera.

But it's important that you find a technology that you need get the training that you need and some strategy coaching.

It's really helpful.

I think this was an amazing podcast.

I really appreciate you putting this together.

This was amazing.

And I think we'll definitely step into talking more about this in another podcast at another time.

Yeah, I hope you find that useful about showing up prepared and contributing, but you've expanded contributing into the world of collaboration as well.

For me, Erica has been fantastic until next week.

Thank you, Darrius.

This was beautiful.

And thank you for organizing such a beautiful discussion by thank you for joining our conversation here at the personal brain Trainer podcast.

This is Dr Erica Warren, and this is Darius Namdaran.

You can check out our show notes for links to resources mentioned the podcast and please leave us a review and share us on social media.

Just take a screenshot and post it up on your social and until next time, see you