Imagine if you could have your own personal assistant--someone to find your lost keys, remind you to walk the dog, or tell you your daily schedule, all without having to pay them a salary? Welcome to the world of voice-activated artificial intelligence, or in this case, Amazon’s Alexa.
The New Year is an excellent time to think about planning. Whether you are trying to figure out how you can keep your New Year’s resolution for longer than a month or struggling to complete that winter break school project, planning is key to productivity and success. It is the brain-based executive function that enables us to envision a distant goal, create sub-goals, prioritize which of them to do and when, and finally, to manage these tasks within time constraints.
Is it common for you or someone you know to start a project or task, but quickly become unproductive when that task got boring or repetitive? Do you know somebody who can set goals, but has difficulty achieving them efficiently? Goal-directed persistence is a necessity when a task becomes monotonous, is interrupted and when one needs to switch up strategies to reach the desired goal.
Are video gaming, surfing online, and TV uncontrollable forces in your or the life of someone you know? Are digital screens getting in the way of productivity, family life, and general health? Is there a high level of anger and conflict associated with managing screen time? The degree to which you experience these is related to how well an individual can regulate his or her attention, emotions, and behavior, or what we call executive functions.
Our ability to regulate attention, emotions, and behavior depends on several brain functions, arguably the most important of which is working memory. From an executive function perspective, working memory is the brain function that enables us to use our experience and long-term memory to understand and manipulate our immediate environment.
"If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done."
This quote is attributed to Rita Mae Brown, a prolific writer of such books as Rubyfruit Jungle and an intrepid advocate for civil and LGBT rights. Do you find it surprising that such a creative and productive force of nature struggles with procrastination too? For those who suffer from the executive function deficit we call task initiation, too often, the only remedy is fear. Fear of missing a deadline, disappointing others, earning a failing grade, or losing a job.
Red hearts are everywhere in stores as we celebrate Valentine's Day this week. The heart gets all of the credit for emotions, hence the red heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. While I'm not arguing for dull white, brain-shaped boxes of chocolate, the brain, as we know, is the actual seat of the emotions. Emotions play a dynamic and important function in many aspects of our lives.
January is named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, endings, and time. Now is a good time to share some simple techniques to help those who struggle with the executive function skill we call "time management." Do you or does someone you know: Have difficulty estimating the time an assignment or project will take, causing missed deadlines?
Emotions run high for any parent when your student is struggling at school. The student is frustrated, teachers can be frustrated, and you may be anxious and frustrated. The charged nature of these meetings can be lessened if all parties have a shared context and understanding of what can and can't be done and under what circumstances. This happens most frequently in public schools because the laws and procedures are clearly laid out, and the school district has the responsibility of informing parents of their rights in the advocacy process. Private school parents don't have this shared context.
Woody Allen once quipped that "eighty percent of success is showing up." This is especially true of the annual back-to-school nights that schools all over the country are having right now. In this article, I'm encouraging you to attend your child's event and take good notes. If you are not aware of the expectations at school, how can you support them at home? If your child learns differently or struggles with organization and executive functioning, you should also be listening to another part of the message.