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How do you plan?

Updated on July 15, 2012

Looking for help with executive functioning and "planning ahead"

This hub definitely appears to be either one of those "duh" questions, or perhaps a pedantic and deceptive lure into getting an audience to whom I'd be giving that advice.

....sorry....that last one just made me snarf, fall out of my chair, pee my pants and faint all at once!

I'm seriously asking for ANYONE's advice - especially those who can personally relate to the experience of not having "the long view" desk-top in their brains. It could be because of Nonverbal Learning Disability as in my case, from a TBI (traumatic brain injury), stroke, or monumental difficulties with the aforementioned issues for a reason as yet unidentified (and my heart and hope goes out to you who have a clinical, medical, neurological, psychological, learning or other cognitive deficit or impairment and who have yet to figure out what the hell it is - I know your pain and don't give up. In fact - get mad. 'Nuff said.

The thing is, I honestly cannot retain and/or process more than 2 MAYBE 3 pieces of information simultaneously - and 3 would likely lead to an anxiety attack for the effort. So, I see a project to be done, or (in my academic years) a "long-term assignment" - and my 100% perfect record throughout that history when it comes to said "big scale" planning and doing - is failure.

You can disbelieve me if you want, but you'll not be of much help if you don't accept the above as genuine and militant and irritating and embittering truth, then your advice will be of no help whatsoever. I'm exposed to plenty of doubters and cliche' spouting, cookie-cutter "time management" bullshit that, while usually well intended, fails miserably to "get" what, how much, and the very fact that so often, I truly DON'T GET IT!

How does one train his brain to be able to *INSTANTLY* process the sequence of steps, events or conditions that lead to some future thing. I even don't get excited about a holiday or psych appt (yes, these are happy things for me - as they are - with a good clinician, that is - cathartic, calming, cleansing and give me some feakin' clarity!), or birthdays or - see I can't even "force" myself to think of all the things to which "future thinking" applies, it's so extraordinarily awkward and difficult.

How, when anything nonverbal or visually oriented or overstimulating, is so damned impossible and overwhelming and anxiety-provoking for me, would some brilliant and awesome hubber suggest I, an extremely literal and verbally oriented thinker, can "*see* the so-called big picture" with greater ease and consistency. Hell - hopefully someone out there can see themselves as able to help me achieve success that is greater than ZERO!

What I'm seeking in this "sort of experiment" of a hub is a ***TON*** of responses - and hopefully more than a few of them will be from folks with alphabet soup after their names - you know, like M.D, Ph.D, Psy.D, LCSW, Ed.D.

To the rest of you (we!) lay folk, I'm not shutting you out. Are you kidding?! There are some folks in the hubosphere whose wisdom and clear yet original thinking leave me gawking with respect and envy (the good kind - like, "Wow! She's so vivid and honest"...

This may seem like a strange hub to many of you, but I hope you stuck it through and read to the end. I'm even here doing something I think is an accomplishment for me, and that is "thinking outside the box" with regard to how to find help for a clinical disorder.

I know no one with credentials can legally give medical advice in this forum, but whether you're a doc, a teacher, a CEO, a lifecoach - or you're someone like me who has been beaten and battered around the block for several decades, and have some hard-learned lessons you're willing to share.

I am SOOO hoping for some traffic here. And I am already grateful to ANYBODY with relevant and supportive input.


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  • stanwshura profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago

    Thank you so much again, folks. A bit more information which may or may not be relevant or "aha!" sparking.

    As I did say above, but it is DEFINITELY worth repeating, I am very literal. My 39 years have *finally* (and very painfully) taught me to second-guess myself by what is now a COMPLETELY integrated self-doubt and anti-intuition. I know how not to look the fool.


    Almost usually.

    Okay, I can pass for "normal" when not under stress or performance demands - such as being the head car at a red light - BOY I hate that!!!

    My math and writing skills are, if I dare to say so myself, superb. I never took trig in high school - and I regret it to this day - because I'm sure I could have taught the teacher a thing or two by the time I *GOT* it and had the AHA! when fire was discovered, the wheel was invented, Franklin played with a kite in the rain, and Einstein gave birth (at least to me) to the concept of the infinite divisibility of matter.

    I took Calc. - but the approach was WAY to dumbed down and casual. "Don't worry about the details". Are you f/ing kidding me, Professor??? The details ARE my language! I wanna carry out the calculations *MYSELF* - see the numerical patterns and relationships - and UNDERSTAND - not just memorize what the hell a 'limit' or 'derivative' is!

    When I was in Jr. High - I discovered *on my own* that 2^2 (2 squared/two to the 2nd power), and 2+2, AND 2x2 all equal the same thing! I discovered that 3^2 = 2^3 + 1to the anything.

    But had I been made to work in a group and play with little cutesy dice and "share" and learn how to deal with consensus reaching, no offense, but I'd have learned nothing - no way, not from my peers who may know how to find their way to the mall, but don't know *shit* about relativity, string theory, quantum mechanics, the space-time continuum, or the difference between the scientific method and the "democratic" conclusions of the dumbass masses.

    To them, finding their glasses or (now) car keys, wallet, their way to work - or cleaning out the attic, and deciding what the hell to throw away, and "just remembering" to do this and that and the other thing.

    These tasks are HELL for me. But it's dismissed because I happen to know the freakin' difference between speed and velocity, between mass and weight, and why A# and Bb are NOT necessarily the same note! I do in fact have perfect pitch, and am a pretty decent pianist, thank you very much! :) Been playing since 4, so I'd better be!

    Anyway - just felt like pointing out that I CAN think. I just can't always decide WHAT to think about, or what the hell to do about a decision where the cost/benefit analysis leads to a 50-50 split!

    How ANYONE learns to use a (conventional - you know, *paper*) map AND drive, I will NEVER understand. See, 'cause every time I make a turn, I have to rotate the map to orient the picture to match my orientation with the remaining path!

    Et cetera. Most people don't have time to wait for me to find and use the method that actually works for me. I SUCK at getting something done or answering an unexpected question, or dealing with an emergency we haven't practiced once a month for as long as I've been working (some 18 years now - including the volunteer stuff while still in college).

    Anyway - I think I was inspired by the meat of your responses - and maybe I'm trying to eek out more gold.

    Thanks again.


  • profile image

    a friend 

    7 years ago

    Stan, I still stumble. A lot. I used the past tense in my post in reference to my time spent in school. I've found that with age, I am better able to get the "big picture" a bit better in focus. On exams, I would be able to sometimes find the right image, stop frame the video, and actually read the words I needed for the answers. While lists may help, and indeed, they help me, they might not contain key words. Maybe key images. And/or sequences of events.

  • stanwshura profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago

    Stclairjack, and 'MOM' - ahh - and 'a friend' now as well - thank you all so much for your very comfortingly quick replies.

    'A friend' - I will definitely try and see how I can apply what sounds like a useful technique. I'm totally and aural and verbal person - but running the sequence and talking through it sounds like it could do some honest good.

    Stclairjack - I hope we eventually correspond privately - if you are a *professional* in the areas of which I've written, I wanna hear SO much more!

    'Mom', yeah - executive dysfunction is a b/ - I feel for your daughter and admire the hell out of you for doing what you can for her.

    Credentials or no, I thank you guys for your responses - from the bottom of my heart.

    Oh, and by the way, "MOM" is one hell of a credential if you ask me. The planning, the patience, the sacrifice, the advocacy, the guiding, the... the... the *everything*.

    There's a reason I'm not a parent. :(

    I am very very very blessed, however, to work with severely disabled children - and their love and warmth and "from the bones" honesty and affection catch me grinning and smiling even through the weekend.

    To be "on the clock" 24/7 for legally or "theoretically" 18 years straight (and that's just one kid!!!) - is a responsibility I cannot even begin to fathom!

  • profile image

    a friend 

    7 years ago

    I used to try to re-wind the movie in my head. The sequence of pictures I saw, sometimes showed me what I really needed to pay attention to.

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    We are dealing with this with my 12 year old. Awaiting results of 2nd neuropysch test. She's been diagnosed with Executive Function previously. Math is extremely hard for her even having it broken down step by step is frusterating. She's behind, and with new school year coming up i am stressing too.


    The only letters after my name are MOM and a concerned one at that.

  • stclairjack profile image


    7 years ago from middle of freekin nowhere,... the sticks

    i have no letters after my name,... but planning and organizing is what i do for a living, and in my side endevors, despite have real memory issues and a terible name recal skillset.

    i make lists. its very helpfull for me, to list things that need to be done that day, or that week. i keep goal lists for the week month and year, and i keep a huge calendar on my wall to plan out a year in advance the activities in my deartment,.....

    i do this becaue if i dont write it down EMEDIATELY,... i WILL forget it.

    only real problem beyond that,.... remembering where i put the lists the notes and the callendar.


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