Working memory is one of the pillars of Executive Functioning, but what is it? In short, it's how much stuff you can fit in your head at once. If your brain was a computer, it would be your RAM. Though you can't buy an upgrade to your working memory (like you can for a computer), you can practice it and strengthen it over time.
Working memory deficits can manifest in many frustrations. For example, you might be procrastinating that upcoming book report because you can't figure out where to begin. Perhaps the reason you cannot figure out where to begin is because you are overloading your working memory. There are two things you can do. First, you can reduce your cognitive load. Second, you can practice and build your working memory.
Here are some tips to reduce cognitive load:
1) Externalize what is in your head. Studies show that if you repeat things out loud, it helps your working memory.
2) Print everything onto paper and lay it out in front of you. Choose a big workspace. Get it out of your head and onto the table.
3) Distill longer things into summaries or bullet lists.
4) Make giant calendars where you can lay out all of your upcoming assignments, chores, errands, and work.
5) Color code. Give each class a different color. The quicker your brain can recognize things, the less cognitive load it takes.
6) You can use icons! Similar to color coding, if you have a science class, you can use a test tube icon to recognize it faster.
7) Study with other people. Research shows that studying with others helps students who get stuck.
8) Talk through things with other people to relieve your working memory. Even if it's your shopping list or planning for a vacation - talk about it with a family member or friend and then make notes.
You can also practice and strengthen working memory. Try typing "Working Memory Games" in google and find some new ones. Apps like Lumosity are available and they are fun - you don't even realize that you are improving your Executive Functioning while having fun.
At Star Tutoring, we help students build many Executive Functioning skills, including working memory. Contact us today to learn more!