Telling Myself What To Do To Manage Distraction

Telling Myself What To Do To Manage Distraction

Executive functioning in the brain involves several abilities to manage behaviors. This is where we tell ourselves ‘what to do’.  We use this region of the brain when we plan to grocery shop, determine parking locations, make an agenda, and realize the long-term outcome of a potential decision. This area of the brain matures around age twenty-one, when the pruning of nerve endings nears completion. No wonder many laws around the world are ‘set’ at this anointing time of adulthood!  The key is knowing how to tell myself what to do in order to manage distraction.

For children, teens, and adults who have attention-to-task problems, the use of phrases or key words helps. Phrases that direct and plan behavior can be assimilated within executive functioning to improve attention.

Here are few examples of phrases that are readily employed for ‘rule-governed behavior’:

  1. Make and keep a schedule
  2. The clock is my ally, not my enemy
  3. Stay on task
  4. Rule of three’s: beginning, middle, and end
  5. Mono-task don’t multi-task
  6. Is it a need or a want? (to realize distracting thoughts or behaviors)
  7. Picture what I read or hear
  8. Look for key words when I read or listen
  9. Finish what I start
  10. Do it now, not later
  11. Break tasks in smaller parts
  12. Don’t rush
  13. Be patient
  14. Be still
  15. Use breaks when boredom arrives
  16. Stay organized
  17. Get the Big Picture
  18. Focus, focus, focus
  19. My parents are my guides, not my problem
  20. Easy does it
  21. Don’t be perfect
  22. Don’t be afraid to fail

These phrases and words have greater meaning when isolated for rehearsal. Using all of the phrases assumes that too much attention will collapse before boredom and frustration. Modeling with visuals within a therapy context, and practice at home with other techniques, proves helpful.

To learn more about countering distractors, please feel free to contact Dr. De Valk or by phone, 708-439-9402.


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