What are executive skills?

Definitions of Executive Skills

Response inhibition – The capacity to think before you act; this ability to resist the urge to say or do something allows you the time to evaluate a situation and how your behavior might impact it.

Working memory     The ability to hold information in memory while performing complex tasks. It incorporates the ability to draw on past learning experience to apply to the situation at hand or to project into the future.

Emotional control     The ability to manage emotions to achieve goals, complete tasks, or control and direct behavior.

Task initiation – The ability to begin projects without undue procrastination, in an efficient or timely fashion.

Sustained attention – The capacity to keep paying attention to a situation or task in spite of distractibility, fatigue, or boredom.

Planning/prioritization – The ability to create a roadmap to reach a goal or to complete a task. It also involves being able to make decisions about what is important to focus on and what is not important.

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

Time management     The capacity to estimate how much time one has, how to allocate it, and how to stay within time limits and deadlines. It also involves a sense that time is important.

Flexibility – The ability to revise plans in the face of obstacles, setbacks, new information, or mistakes. It relates to an adaptability to changing conditions.

Metacognition – The ability to stand back and take a bird’s-eye view of yourself in a situation, to observe how you problem solve. It also includes self-monitoring and self-evaluative skills (e. g., Asking yourself, “how am I doing?” Or “how did I do?”). 

Goal directed persistence – The capacity to have a goal, follow through to the completion of the goal, and not be put off by or distracted by competing interests.

Stress Tolerance – The ability to thrive in stressful situations and to cope with uncertainty, change, and performance demands.