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The Core Skills Associated with Executive Functioning

Task Initiation

The ability to recognise when it is time to make a start on something and to begin without procrastinating.

Planning and Prioritisation

The ability to create steps to reach a goal and to make decisions about the relative importance and urgency of each step.


The ability to create and maintain systems and structures to keep track of information or materials.

Time Management

The ability to use time productively and smartly to maximise output in relation to effort.

Working Memory

The ability to hold information in mind and use, manipulate and link it to complete a task.

Sustaining Attention

The ability to direct and maintain attention to fully concentrate on the task in hand.

Goal Directed Persistence

The ability to see a goal through to completion whilst managing distractions and competing interests.

Shifting Focus / Flexible thinking

The ability to transition seamlessly and efficiently from one task to another.

Response Inhibition/ impulse control

The ability to pause to consider available courses of action rather than acting impulsively.

Emotional Control

The ability to manage feeling and emotions and use them constructively to support the pursuit of goals.


The ability to understand our own thought processes and how they are influencing our choices, actions, decisions and behaviour.

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