The executive function bank account is similar to your real bank account, but instead of depositing and withdrawing money, we use it as a reserve for our energy and capacity to manage daily tasks.
Each person has an executive function bank account. Some people have a surplus of funds that allows them to manage daily tasks with ease. Stress and big life changes drain their accounts faster, but for the most part, they keep their accounts balanced. Unfortunately, people with ADHD struggle to keep their accounts balanced because our executive functioning challenges drain our accounts.
Our executive function challenges, or the skills we use to manage our lives, can quickly deplete our executive function bank account. For example, if you have to make many decisions throughout your work day, it drains your executive function bank account leaving you with little reserves for the evening. Small executive function struggles like looking for your keys, being late for appointments, losing your train of thought during a meeting, and distracting environments all add up to big withdrawals. Too often, we overcommit ourselves and take on too much without making deposits in our accounts. Then we feel depleted and unable to sustain focus.
Somedays we wake up with an empty bank account. We have overdrawn and making new deposits can be especially hard. A big project that requires a lot of planning and focusing, or overstimulating events can impact our account for days.
Then there are the days when we win the lottery. Our account stays full longer, and we can easily get things done. But the inconsistency of these executive function windfalls is frustrating because we never know when they will happen or why.
How to Manage Your Executive Function Bank Account
Make Direct Deposits Daily
It is essential to make direct deposits each day to maintain your executive function bank account balance. This includes getting enough sleep, exercising, eating nourishing food, and maintaining healthy social connections.
Additional ways to maintain your executive function bank account balance
- Learn more about your executive function challenges and develop strategies so you put less strain on your account.
- Accept that some days you will have less in your account and plan accordingly.
- Talk with the people in your life so they can help you by making fewer withdrawals when funds are low.
Ways to Curb Your Spending
How we spend our time and use our energy matters. There are simple things you can do each day to help maintain balance.
- Limit your choices to help with decision fatigue
- Delegate tasks – you don’t have to do it all
- Stop over-committing
- Let go of perfectionism
Find the Hidden Drains on Your Account
- Tolerations – these are the annoying things that we put up with every day. They are always in the background draining your account. Tolerations like unfinished projects, physical and mental clutter, unpaid bills, bad habits, and unresolved issues silently drain your account.
- Poor Boundaries – other people can also drain your account if you don’t have good boundaries. A co-worker that always interrupts you while you’re trying to concentrate, being the one to always plan for family events, and saying yes to another commitment can impact your account. Check out my post about creating boundaries to learn more.
- Unrealistic Expectations – when you have unrealistic expectations your account will be depleted quickly. Things like a never-ending to-do list, taking on more than you can handle, and creating expectations for yourself based on another person’s accomplishments are a few examples.
Living life with ADHD can be exhausting and overwhelming and it is hard to convey this struggle to people around us. The executive function bank account analogy gives us a way to help people understand this invisible disorder. We are not lazy, rude, or defiant. Instead, we are people that struggle to maintain an ideal balance in our accounts. With a little help, compassion, and understanding, we can make more of those deposits that help us keep our account full.