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Adult executive function coaching: the comprehensive guide

Updated: Mar 22

In this blog, we unravel the mysteries of adult executive function coaching and its potential to transform your life.

Do you find yourself wondering:

  • What are executive functions?

  • Who can benefit from coaching

  • How can executive function coaching enhance my life?

If so, you're in the right place.

If you've ever struggled with maintaining work-life balance, felt overwhelmed and disorganized, wrestled with procrastination, or are diagnosed with ADHD, it's time to explore how an adult executive function coach can empower you to navigate life's challenges with confidence.


Table of Contents


What are executive functions?

Executive functions are a series of skills that allow us to get stuff done. While there is much debate on the number and names of these skills, professionals agree that executive functions act as the control center of our brains.

They help us do many things including:

  • Plan

  • Prioritize

  • Manage time

  • Set and achieve a goal

  • Solve complex problems

  • Control impulses and emotions

  • Communicate effectively

  • And much more...

Executive functions are not skills we are naturally born with. For some, these skills are developed during school.

However, for many, executive function skills were never honed, thus leaving adults without the ability to handle the demands of daily life or reach their fullest potential.

What is executive dysfunction?

According to Cleveland Clinic, executive dysfunction is, “a behavioral symptom that disrupts a person's ability to manage their own thoughts, emotions, and actions”.

In other words, executive dysfunction is a lack of one or more executive function skills. This makes it difficult to self-manage, make decisions, plan, and think critically.

Which resonates most with you?

  • I don't get everything done that I set out to

  • I am constantly overwhelmed

  • I do not have a system to manage my to-dos

  • I never have enough time to get everything done

How do I know if I have weak executive functions?

The most evidence-based avenue is to undergo a neuropsychological evaluation conducted by a psychiatrist. While these evaluations are accurate and produce a comprehensive analysis of your brain's strengths and weaknesses, they are very expensive, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

What are the signs of weak executive function skills?

If you are looking for a faster, less detailed approach to answering this question, I recommend completing a few self-assessments. Keep in mind, the results of these informal assessments are not designed to diagnose and do not guarantee accurate results.

  • Work Smart Coaching has a free self-assessment on their website: click here!

  • Work Smart Coaching also has a short checklist: click here!

  • ADDitude Mag also has a self-assessment designed for adults with ADHD: click here!

  • Kaizen Education has a strengths-based assessment: click here!

Why are my executive functioning skills weaker than others?

Most commonly, adults with underdeveloped executive functions are neurodivergent.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, these adults might be diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Others might struggle with mental or physical conditions such as addiction, depression, or schizophrenia.

Lastly, people who have suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) might find their executive function skills are not as strong as they used to be.

However, many adults display symptoms of executive dysfunction without a medical diagnosis.

Additionally, some adults want to learn systems and tools that increase productivity levels and bring more balance to their lives.

Whether or not you have a diagnosis, working with an executive function coach can help.

What does executive dysfunction feel like?

Individuals grappling with executive dysfunction are frequently conscious of their impaired functioning.

The sensation varies based on the activity they are engaged in when encountering it:

In the realm of self-motivation for task completion, people with weak executive functioning skills have difficulty starting or completing tasks.

They might have a list of things to do but feel as if they cannot get themselves started.

Or, they might have multiple projects started but incomplete. From the outside looking in, people with executive dysfunction are often seen as lazy.

From the outside looking in, people with executive dysfunction are often seen as lazy.

During social interactions, those with executive dysfunction often encounter difficulties.

It can resemble a scenario where one's spoken words outpace their thoughts or where stumbling occurs while attempting to articulate thoughts. Consequently, such individuals often experience heightened anxiety or apprehension in social settings.

Efforts to focus or concentrate can also be affected. Those grappling with executive dysfunction might find it arduous to direct their attention toward a specific task.

The presence of external stimuli such as sights, sounds, and ongoing events can prove overwhelmingly distracting, reaching a point where sustained concentration becomes unattainable.

How can I get help?

Coaching! Working with a powerful executive function coach will change your life.

Finding someone who guides you in developing systems, tools, and habits that allow you to reach your personal goals is key.

The most effective EF coaches can be discovered by seeking recommendations from reliable sources.

Consult with your doctor, therapist, or another mental health expert to obtain referrals.

You can also use the directories below to find perspective coaches to interview:

If you are looking for a local coach, you can:

Not ready to start working with a coach?

Try out some of these tools to streamline, organize, and manage your life:

  • Remember to do tasks with the Reminders App: every time you are asked to do something or think of a to-do, add it to the reminders app and set a day and time for the reminder to notify you.

  • Create to-do lists: each night, sit down and create a list of what you need to do the next day. Then, select your number one priority and put a star next to it. You now know what you will do first thing in the morning.

  • Stay focused using the Forest App: plant a tree and watch it flourish while you engage in focused work. This is an app and chrome extension!

  • Get in the zone with the Pomodoro technique: 25 minutes on, 5 minutes off, repeat. The Pomodoro technique straight up works!

    • The Forest offers a pomodoro setting

    • Session is a great app for mac and apple users

    • is a simple web-based timer

What is executive function coaching?

Imagine having a personal guide who not only understands the complexities of your daily struggles but also possesses the expertise to help you conquer them.

That's exactly what adult executive function coaching offers. At its core, this type of coaching is focused on enhancing the cognitive processes known as executive functions, which are responsible for skills like planning, organizing, managing time, and controlling impulses.

Engaging in adult executive function coaching is a personalized journey tailored to your unique needs and goals.

Coaches collaborate with you to identify your strengths, challenges, and aspirations. From there, they develop a customized plan that includes strategies, tools, and techniques to enhance your executive function skills.

During coaching sessions, you'll learn how to implement these strategies in real-life scenarios, gradually transforming your approach to tasks, time management, and decision-making. With consistent effort and guidance, you'll witness tangible improvements in your productivity, focus, and overall sense of accomplishment.

white man with long black hair standing in front of a green background, wearing a black jacket

What are the benefits?

Support Navigating the Modern World

The contemporary world is a whirlwind of responsibilities, tasks, and distractions. Many adults find themselves grappling with the overwhelming demands of work, family, and personal pursuits.

Adult executive function coaching provides a structured framework to navigate this complexity, helping individuals regain control over their lives.

Unlocked Potential

We all have untapped potential lying within us. However, disorganization, poor time management, and lack of focus can hinder us from reaching our goals.

Coaching in executive function empowers individuals to tap into their hidden strengths, fostering personal and professional growth.

Attaining Goals

Writing goals increases the likelihood of accomplishment by 42% according to a study.

While writing our goals is important, developing an action plan, predicting obstacles, generating solutions, and visualizing success is the key to success.

Executive function coaches take their clients through an intensive goal-setting process and hold their clients accountable.

A study by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, found that people who wrote their goals and shared weekly progress updates with a friend were significantly more likely to accomplish their goals.

Enhanced Productivity

Productivity isn't just about doing more; it's about doing the right things effectively. Executive function coaching equips you with proven strategies to streamline your tasks, prioritize effectively, and make the most of your time.

Less Procrastination

Procrastination can be a major roadblock on the path to success. Coaches specializing in executive function help you identify the underlying causes of procrastination and provide techniques to overcome this common challenge.

Improved Decision-Making

Every day, we're faced with decisions that can impact our lives significantly. Coaching hones your decision-making skills, allowing you to make choices aligned with your goals and values. Shrink and complete your to-do list every day through evidence-based techniques.

Reduced Stress and Overwhelm

Juggling multiple responsibilities often leads to stress and overwhelm. Executive function coaches guide you in creating effective systems for managing tasks, reducing stress, and regaining a sense of balance.

Better Habits and Routines

An executive function coach will teach you the science behind habit and routine formation in conjunction with working through your greatest obstacles.

By taking baby steps, you can hone healthy habits and routines that leave you feeling empowered, strong, and clear-minded.

A Growth Mindset

Developing and maintaining a growth mindset is a key component of the process of coaching. Executive function coaches educate you on the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset and teach you how to hone a growth mindset.

How much does executive function coaching cost?

While coaches set their own rates, I did some research and found the average coach charges $165 per session. Unfortunately, insurance does not cover executive function coaching but, if you have a diagnosis, your coach might be able to provide you with information that you can use to try to get your sessions covered.

If you figure out a way to have insurance cover coaching, please let me know so that I can share it with my community!

How do I find the right coach?

The best coach for you may not be the right coach for someone else. When interviewing prospective coaches, pay attention to their personality, and the way they speak, and ask them questions about their coaching style. Ultimately, you know what type of coaching style you respond best to.

Executive function coaching is still an unregulated profession. Anyone can call themselves an executive function coach. But, there are specific credentials or certifications that one can earn. It is worth asking about a prospective coach's education as well as where they got their credentials or certifications from.

Lastly, ask how long their program lasts. Do they have a 90-day or 180-day offer? Do they simply coach session by session? For how long do they typically work with one client? How will they know when you are ready to graduate from coaching?

Top 5 Questions To Ask A Prospective Executive Function Coach

  1. What is your coaching approach?

  2. How do you measure success?

  3. How will I know when our work is complete?

  4. What is your background and experience in this type of work?

  5. How much does your program cost?

What are the results I should expect from working with an executive function coach?

Adults use executive function coaching to perform better at work, organize their possessions and priorities, and equip themselves with strategies for increasing success, meeting goals, and improving relationships.

Coaching can lead to improvement in remembering and retaining information, focusing longer on tasks, decreasing procrastination, starting and completing tasks, organizing tasks, managing time more efficiently, and practicing thinking before acting.

Adults who go through a powerful coaching program will leave with strong self-management and self-leadership skills, more discipline, and a heightened sense of confidence.


In a world that demands multitasking, adaptability, and effective decision-making, adult executive function coaching emerges as a game-changer. By honing crucial skills and providing practical tools, coaching empowers people to conquer challenges, seize opportunities, and unlock their full potential.

Whether you're aiming to excel in your career, manage personal responsibilities more effectively, or simply lead a more fulfilling life, adult executive function coaching is the compass that can guide you toward success.

Interested in learning more about working with a coach at UpSkill Specialists? Click here to book a free strategy session!

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About the author

Eric Kaufmann, M.S. Ed. is a Professional Educational Therapist and Certified Executive Function Coach. He is the Co-founder of UpSkill Specialists, an online adult executive function coaching company designed to guide adults in overcoming disorganization, procrastination, and productivity roadblocks so they can unlock their potential. Eric is also the founder of Elevate Learning Solutions, an Educational Therapy practice located in San Clemente, CA, that guides students with neurological differences toward becoming independent and confident students and self-leaders.

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About 👋

Upskill Specialists was founded when two former special education teachers turned executive function coaches decided that adults need tools and coaching to improve their workplace skills and feel confident and empowered. Our mission is to ensure every adult with EF challenges has access to high-quality coaching services. 

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