Between looming deadlines, an endless flow of information, and multiple tasks demanding our constant attention, we often feel unfocused, overwhelmed, and ineffective. In other words, we experience “executive skills malfunction.”
“Executive functioning” is the term psychologists use to describe how our brains work—specifically, the cognitive skills we use to organize our professional and personal lives, to make plans and then execute on them.
Unfortunately, the executive function part of the brain doesn’t always work the way we want it to. Oftentimes, our capacity for complex thinking and getting things done shuts down. We lose our ability to control our impulses and emotions, and to adjust our behavior positively to unexpected changes. Moreover, when this happens in a group or team, the ripple effect is an organizational culture where everyone is regularly working reactively rather than proactively.
There is good news though: many digital tools are available to help you and your team rise above all the distractions that affect your productivity. Used with one another, these tools are designed to help you access and strengthen your executive function. This makes it easier to stay organized, plan and prioritize tasks, stop procrastinating, schedule time more effectively, and remember things better.
Improve your organizational skills
At its peak capacity, your executive function helps you efficiently organize your thoughts and ideas. But if you’re consistently struggling to keep track of important information and relying on chaotic systems to stay on top of things, the following solutions are essential.
- A digital notebook is a great alternative to writing your ideas down or mapping things out visually on paper. It also helps you save, organize, and access all your memos in one secure place. Store your notes in a variety of formats, including hand-written texts, drawings, charts, and tables—as well as audio files, images, and videos.
- A smart information tracking app provides a simple and flexible way to manage the work data that matters to you and your team. Create, share, and track issues, contacts, and inventory to keep everyone aligned around what’s happening. For example, if your business loans laptops and smartphones to employees, use your app to create an asset list, noting who has each device, their assigned product number, and the date they were first assigned that product. Start quickly with ready-made templates or spreadsheet files, see recent and favorite lists, and even add photos with QR code support.
Streamline planning, prioritization, and task management
If you have trouble setting and reaching goals, making decisions about what to focus on now versus later, and just getting started on tasks, these digital tools can keep you productive and motivated.
- Use a digital to-do list to create and store all your individual tasks in one place—essentially using it as a smart daily planner. Create your tasks and sub-tasks in the app and make them meaningful by adding descriptions, photos, and files for reference. Simply open the app at the beginning of your day and it will help you map out everything that must be completed. Over time, this app will help you track your existing behavior patterns to create more productive habits, providing personalized suggestions on the most critical priorities for the day. Set up reminders for certain tasks, which will keep you accountable and more intentional about prioritizing your workflow.
- Task management software for teams is an intuitive tool that uses Kanban boards and task notes packed with files, checklists, and labels, providing you with just enough information to overcome indecision and keep moving through your workday. It also offers many useful features—such as visual insights, email notifications, and the ability to assign individual tasks—to help you and your team avoid chaotic workflows. By following a structured checklist and crossing off completed tasks, you’ll fight procrastination and gain a sense of achievement.
- A calendar app is an essential tool for improving your ability to plan and prioritize. It helps you structure your time effectively with a comprehensive view of the days, weeks, and months ahead. Color code your calendar to schedule regular breaks in your day to spend time away from your devices or allot focus time for strategic thinking and deep work. Manage expectations by using a solution that shows your team when you’re busy and when you’re available.
Boost your working memory
If you have difficulty remembering things until you check your notes, or you forget key points from meetings and have trouble transitioning between topics, digital tools can help you reduce the wasteful cognitive load while providing aids for your working memory.
- With most modern teams collaborating remotely, it can be challenging to document team meetings and capture task responsibilities and deadlines. Use a business communication platform to record, download, and share audio and video files with others. Keywords can help you search meeting transcripts, and easily find and review action items or issues on your own time.
- Integrated task management is another powerful tool to help you recall key dates, assignments, and milestones in your personal and work life. Sync task management software with other productivity and collaboration tools to quickly switch between personal and team tasks, keep track of your deadlines, and collaborate with your team more efficiently.
Get started with digital tools
Your executive function is closely tied to success in work and life, but it’s not always reliable. Whether managing tasks and projects, completing work, or just showing up on time, digital tools can make you more productive, collaborative, and consistent—providing that extra edge you need to get things done whenever you feel overloaded or distracted.
Used in tandem with one another, these intuitive smart apps will help get you on the right path quickly—and begin seeing positive results almost immediately.