I'm almost 40 years old and starting to realize I have executive function challenges. I hadn't heard of the term until recently when researching my symptoms. It's apparent that there are resources to improve executive function skills but at my age, I feel like it might be too late. I'm already set in my disorganized, scattered ways and I'm wondering if change might simply be too hard now. Can adults still improve their executive function skills?

This is a common misconception among adults. Executive Function skills change as you grow and develop. Typically, Executive Function skills even diminish as adults age and need to be adjusted and refined. Paying attention to your EF skills and implementing strategies to strengthen them throughout every stage of your life is important to feel happy and in control.

Executive Function skills learned as an adolescent are going to look a little different from the specific Executive Function skills needed in your adult life. For instance, you may have learned how to get organized as a student, which likely meant organizing your locker or binder. Organizing as an adult will focus on things like your home or finances. Although you already learned and use this EF skill, it needs to be adapted and fine-tuned to work for your life now, as an adult. 

Contrary to what you might think, it can be easier for adults to learn and see improvement in their Executive Function skills when compared to children. One of the reasons is that adults are often highly motivated to change their habits. We conducted a study measuring the changes in EF skills over our 16-week foundational period of coaching. This research found that almost 70% of adults as old as 62 years old saw improvement in Executive Function skills after just 16 weeks of coaching! 

Along with coaching, there are many different strategies you can implement to help improve your EF skills as an adult. To assist with disorganization specifically, try using a bullet journal. This is a journal that you keep with you to jot down important dates or times, upcoming meetings, or tasks you need to complete. Using a bullet journal is a good way to keep yourself organized as it provides one, efficient place to store all of those important things you don't want to forget. Setting timers and reasonable deadlines for yourself are also great ways to support Executive Function improvement.

We are all works in progress. Improving Executive Function skills will always be a continuous effort as these skills are used for different stages of your life. It's never too late to work on strengthening EF skills because they are used every day, in all areas of life, by everyone!

Justice Abbott

Written by Justice Abbott

Justice Abbott is a Content Marketing Associate for Beyond BookSmart, contributing to the marketing department’s efforts to promote executive function skills as a pathway to confidence and personal success. Prior to joining the Beyond BookSmart team, Justice was as a Marketing Assistant for Germono Advertising Company, working closely with small businesses to redirect their social media marketing efforts and increase brand awareness. She’s earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English from Towson University, with a writing concentration.