Executive Thought Problems


Executive thought is the set of cognitive skills that controls a persons’ ability to focus, plan, prioritize, and exercise control over actions. When executive thought becomes impaired, it is hard to concentrate, follow or give directions, and regulate emotion. As a result, a person may experience poor performance in schoolwork or on the job, mood problems, relationship problems, or low motivation.

Signs of Executive Thought Dysfunction

  • Have trouble starting or completing tasks
  • Trouble multi-tasking
  • Have difficulty prioritizing projects
  • Forgeting what they just heard or read
  • Trouble following directions or a sequence of steps
  • Panic when rules or normal routines change
  • Have trouble switching focus from one task to another
  • Get overly emotional
  • Fixating on things
  • Disorganized thoughts
  • Unable to keep track of belongings
  • Have trouble managing their time

Diagnosing Executive Thought Issues

A neuropsychologist will administer specific tests to evaluate the following areas:

  • Attention
  • Inhibitory control
  • Working memory
  • Organization and planning
  • Concept formation
  • Task shifting
  • Word and idea generation

Managing Executive Thought Problems

The executive thought process is a learned process; no one is born with the ability. The good news is that you can do things to improve your executive functioning and manage any weaknesses that you have. Strategies that can help include:

  • Break up large tasks into small steps
  • Create checklists for tasks
  • Give yourself time between activities
  • Make a schedule to help you stay on track
  • Use a calendar to help you remember and plan for long-term activities, tasks, and goals
  • Use visual aids to help you process and understand information
  • Write down due dates or important deadlines and put them in a visible location
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