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Want to enhance your executive functioning? 5 books guaranteed to help (2023)

Welcome to my latest blog post, where I am sharing five transformative books that have personally helped me enhance my executive functioning skills.

Each book on this list has not only contributed to improving my time management, decision-making, and planning abilities, but they've also offered unique perspectives on setting and achieving goals.

However, upon reflection, I recognize that the authors represented here lack diversity. While I stand by my recommendations based on my personal reading experience, I also understand the immense value that comes from diverse voices and perspectives. I believe in the importance of inclusivity and diversity in literature, and I acknowledge that this list could better represent those values.

That said, I'm eager to broaden my reading horizons and learn from authors with varied backgrounds and experiences. I invite you, my readers, to share your recommendations in the comments below. Are there books by authors from diverse backgrounds that have made a significant impact on your executive functioning skills or changed the way you approach your personal and professional life?

And before I forget, if you find any of these books intriguing, you can purchase them directly by clicking on the images provided. Each click supports not only these authors but also the continuation of this blog, and for that, I am immensely grateful.

Enjoy reading, and I'm looking forward to your suggestions!

"Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" by David Allen

"Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" by David Allen is a time-management method designed to provide control over all tasks and commitments in your life.

This process involves capturing everything that needs attention, clarifying if it's actionable, organizing actionable items by category and priority, reflecting on the system, and finally, engaging with the tasks confidently.

By reducing cognitive load, increasing focus, improving impulse control, and enhancing cognitive flexibility, the GTD method offers a practical approach to manage tasks and commitments, which can significantly improve executive functioning skills over time.

"Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them." - David Allen, Getting Things Done

"Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones" by James Clear

"Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones" by James Clear is a comprehensive guide on habit formation and how small, incremental changes can lead to significant results. The book focuses on creating systems and structures that facilitate the development of good habits and the elimination of bad ones.

By providing practical strategies for habit formation, such as the four-step habit loop (cue, craving, response, reward) and the concept of identity-based habits, the book helps improve executive functioning skills.

These strategies enhance goal-setting, self-regulation, planning, and decision-making abilities, which are vital components of executive function. In essence, "Atomic Habits" empowers readers to take control of their lives and intentionally shape the habits that support their personal and professional goals.

"You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems." - James Clear, Atomic Habits

"Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals" by Oliver Burkeman

"Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals" by Oliver Burkeman is a thought-provoking exploration of our relationship with time. The title references the average human lifespan in weeks, emphasizing the finite nature of our existence.

Rather than focusing on traditional productivity hacks, Burkeman encourages embracing limitations, focusing on meaningful tasks, and accepting the impossibility of doing everything.

This approach helps in improving executive functions in several ways. It enhances decision-making and prioritization skills by encouraging focus on truly significant tasks.

It fosters self-regulation through the acceptance of life's finiteness, promoting conscious choices about commitments. It also assists in goal-directed behavior by helping readers to align their actions with their deeper values and aspirations. Thus, "Four Thousand Weeks" offers a refreshing perspective to improve executive functioning skills by redefining productivity and time management.

"Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom." - Søren Kierkegaard, as quoted in Oliver Burkeman's Four Thousand Weeks

"The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey

"The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey is a seminal book that offers a framework for personal effectiveness, which aligns well with the development of executive function skills. Each of the seven habits - be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first, think win-win, seek first to understand then to be understood, synergize, and sharpen the saw - help in strengthening components of executive function, such as planning, prioritizing, self-regulation, task initiation, and goal-directed persistence.

The book not only provides strategies for productivity but also emphasizes the importance of character ethics and personal values, leading to holistic growth.

"I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions." - Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

"The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich" by Timothy Ferriss

By advocating for the elimination of non-essential tasks, automating and delegating as much as possible, and focusing on highly efficient bursts of work, Ferriss's approach can significantly bolster executive functioning skills. These skills include prioritizing (determining what tasks are most important), time management (creating a focused work schedule), and self-regulation (setting boundaries between work and personal time).

The principles in the book encourage readers to create systems that optimize their productivity and effectiveness, thereby improving their overall executive function.

"Being busy is a form of laziness - lazy thinking and indiscriminate action." - Tim Ferris, The Four Hour Workweek


As we wrap up this post, I hope you find these book recommendations inspiring. Remember, it's through consistent effort and guidance that we truly evolve.

To help you in this journey, I invite you to join my free course, "Enhance Your Executive Function Skills." Here, you'll gain practical tools and strategies to bolster your executive functioning. For a more personalized approach, consider reaching out for one-to-one coaching sessions where we can create an action plan tailored to your unique needs and goals.

Improving your executive functioning is not just about productivity; it's about leading a balanced, fulfilling life. Don't hesitate to reach out for more information about the course or coaching. I look forward to supporting you on this journey.

And, of course, keep those diverse book recommendations coming in the comments below!

About the author

Sean G. McCormick founded Executive Function Specialists, an online coaching business that guides middle, high school, and college students in overcoming procrastination, disorganization, and anxiety by teaching time management, prioritization, and communication skills so they feel motivated, prepared, and empowered.

He trains educators, parents, and other professionals to support students with ADHD and executive function challenges through his courses in the Executive Function Coaching Academy.


Executive Functions, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase, Executive Functions, Inc. will earn a commission.

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