Working on Working Memory
Working Memory is a key part of Executive Functioning. It includes our ability to store and reorder things in our brain - whether it is tasks (homework, deliverables) or schedule items (meetings, errands). Humans often overly-rely on our working memories and we think they are much better than they actually are. Consider this scenario: in the morning your teacher gives you an assignment for homework - that's very easy (almost trivial) to store in our mind. So, of course, we have a tendency to store it in our brain and not write it down. Several hours later, after multiple classes, extracurricular activities, and dinner, you might not be able to remember the details of the assignment from the morning. All humans (and especially those with ADHD) can take simple steps to make this easier.
Tips to Aid and Improve Working Memory
1) Write it down. Find a system of to-do lists, daily planners, or schedules that work for you. (Paper-based lists tend to be better than lists on our phones!)
2) Leave yourself visual cues. Do you have a bill you need to pay? A traffic ticket to deal with? A pestering project to work on? Leave something about it out in the open - in the middle of your normal routine - as a visual cue.
3) Remind yourself to check your to-do lists. Set a daily alarm or a recurring item on your calendar to simply check your to-do list or planner.
4) Externalize your thoughts. Having trouble making a grocery list or packing for a trip? Find a friend or family member to talk through it. Ask them to ask you open-ended questions like, "what do you need in order to get that done?" or, "what's the first step you need to take to work on that project?"
5) Chunk information. Take complex things and break them down. Distill long information into bullet points for reference.
6) Space out information. Try not to take in too much at once. Incorporate work breaks.
7) Print everything out. Get it onto paper and spread it out around you in your workspace - within arm's reach.
8) Practice working memory with games. Check out Lumosity and this list of apps/games from ADDitude Mag that improve working memory.
Need More Help? Call Us!
At Star Tutoring, we help our clients with an emphasis on academics and Executive Functioning / ADHD. If you found this topic useful and would like to chat more about ideas and strategies, please give us a call! (214) 444-3431 | www.StarTutoringCenters.com.