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Executive Functions as Demonstrated by Ritualized Study

Executive Functions can be difficult to measure.  However, the practice of what we call ritualized study and routines can be an indicator of the synthesis of EF skills.

A ritual is an action or practice done in a customary way or common practice for an intended purpose.

Your family might have a Saturday night ritual of pizza on Fridays or taco Tuesdays. 

Successful students figure out and implement study rituals which maximize their academic success. Fine-tuning your ritualized study may take time, but these practices will support your uniquely effective approach to getting things done.

Just2 Tutoring - study ritual


You can probably identify at which times, with consideration to class, athletic, family and community commitments, where you can confidently commit the appropriate time and focus to study and practice. These are part of what I refer to as Natural Rhythms or our times of the day when we feel most able to focus on a specific task. Engaging in reflection regarding these natural rhythms can be an empowering experience for everyone. The subject itself sets a clear tone that consistent study must be a part of your everyday routine. Students may find that what works for their parents may not be a fit for their natural rhythms.

EF Coaching

Within the context of natural rhythms, young students are gently welcomed into the realm of time management, which is an important pillar of our Executive Function Coaching.

Time of Day

Consider the time of day that you feel your mind functions best for reading, mathematics, or more technical topics such as the sciences. When can it work to host or attend study groups, which feature a climate of study within a social setting? Once a commitment has been made, many students may find that they are more productive than ever before.


You may ask “How do we set up our study space?” I don’t know. When I say that I don’t know, what I mean is that what will work for one individual may not be the same as what will work for the next.  However, we have guidelines to help get any student started in coming up with their optimal study ritual. They are:

Guidelines for Ritualized Study

A Place for Study

To start off, the environment that you are studying in has to be free of any distractions. Take a good look at your study space and really think about what might become a distraction there. Some questions to ask are: Is the textbook for a different assignment going to take me away from the current one? Is there excess technology around that will divert me from focusing? Is it possible that a parent or sibling in the room can take your attention away from your goal, even when their best intentions are there? 

Keeping Hands Busy

Foursome students, having a fidget or two, such as a stress ball or squishy toy, maybe the perfect way to stay on track. You know who you are!


When it comes to music, research shows that music that contains lyrics is more likely to distract you from the content you are working on. Clifford Nass, a professor at Stanford University, explains that the brain will listen to the lyrics to a song using the same part of the brain that is processing words as you study.  However instrumental music of various genres, which does not contain lyrics, is processed on the other side of the brain and therefore does not interfere with verbal processing. Or, get in your study brain groove!


Proper study lighting helps you to stay focused, without needing to squint to read your notes or straining your eyes to see your homework. Look for a study space where you can create lighting that is both consistent, and without any shadows or glare.  

Consider Alternate Settings

Test out a variety of different environments…a room with light music and others chatting and working, a room with complete silence and limited possible distractions, or your bedroom with an environment you can more easily control. Try a more pubic place in your home. Having people around can make you feel more accountable. Consider the reasons people generally work in an office setting or go to a library to read. The setting is important to creating your ritualized study routine.

Worthy of mention

Crunch Snacks & Beverages to feed the brain’s need for glucose…not to distract! And, potential Self-Talk, Mottos, and Mantras…like “Just Do It! Focus!”

Think about what works for you

Develop a study ritual and routine that works best for you. And remember, what works well for one person may not work best for you. It is completely within your power to create and maintain a study ritual that will boost your academic productivity, which equals academic success!

Practice a Simple Study Strategy like this one. This is the final piece of your ritualized study.

For more information about a ritualized study and developing the habit of self-direction, contact J2 Tutoring.

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