As a job coach for tech professionals with ADHD, I'm always on the lookout for new tools to manage executive function challenges at work. Recently, I've been experimenting with ChatGPT and collecting different use cases and prompts from my clients along the way. I have to say, I've been blown away by the power of this tool!
I now use ChatGPT regularly to help me break down tasks, estimate time, and draft difficult communications, but even better - I've noticed major reduction in my cognitive load and mental stress around tasks that used to stress me out more. I've also been collecting a list of prompts and use cases that have been particularly helpful for me and my clients.
I've found the biggest executive function benefit is for TASK INITIATION. Writing is a Wall of Awful for so many people, and looking at a blank paper on your screen automatically triggers feelings of dread. ChatGPT reduces the cognitive lift for writing because it writes the basics and then all you have to do is edit! From an executive function perspective, it’s almost always easier to edit something instead of creating it from scratch.
Use Case: Use ChatGPT to do a first draft of emails, performance self-evaluations, bios, cover letters, and even text messages. Obviously, ChatGPT does not give you a perfect draft, but you can tweak it as needed with more prompts like “that draft was too formal, re-write it in a more casual tone”.
Example Prompt: I want you to write an email to a stakeholder explaining that a project will be delayed due to a bug that needs to be addressed. The project will be delayed up to 1 week. Use a professional and assertive tone. Be apologetic but not overly apologetic.
Communication and Rejection Sensitivity
Sometimes we don’t have the right language for a difficult conversation – especially ones where to need to self-advocate or respond to criticism. If you have Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria, it can feel paralyzing and stop you from communicating about an issue until you’re basically forced to.
Use Case: Use ChatGPT to draft scripts for difficult conversations, including predicting difficult questions or comments from the other person.
Example Prompt: I (Jane) want you to help me prepare for a sensitive conversation with a customer (John). I need to tell the customer that their feature requests for their app are simply not possible unless we significantly extend the deadline. I want them to understand that ultimately, the feature requests are out of scope for this project and won't realistically happen. I don't want them to be angry about this. Write script of Jane breaking the news to John
Time estimation and task breakdown
Everyone has a different ‘sweet spot’ with breaking down tasks. ChatGPT can take an overwhelming task and break it down….and break it down….and break it down. It’s an amazing tool for creating a structured approach to a task.
Use Case: Ask ChatGPT to break down a task that feels overwhelming. This is great for Wall of Awful tasks and ones where you’re not quite sure how to start
Example Prompt: I have to schedule a doctor's appointment with Orlando Regional Medical Center to get an x-ray on my foot and I feel completely overwhelmed. I don't know if my insurance will cover the appointment, or even where to find my health insurance ID. I use Premera health insurance. Can you give me step-by-step instructions to break down the steps of making this appointment?
As you move up in your career, people often face new challenges with facilitating and leading meetings. Especially if you have time blindness, it can feel daunting to 1) figure out how to structure an effective meeting and 2) how to manage time throughout it. I’m giving a presentation next month on something I’ve talked about a million times and I did an experiment to see how ChatGPT would structure my presentation. It wasn’t perfect, but it was super helpful for me to think about my presentation in a different way and how I could plan it differently.
Use Case: Give ChatGPT a topic, total time, and purpose for a presentation or meeting. Ask ChatGPT to turn it into an outline or meeting agenda.
Example Prompt: I want you to write an outline for a presentation on Neurodiversity 101 for HR Partners. The presentation should only be about 45 minutes. I want to cover topics like introduction to neurodiversity, disclosure trends in tech companies, the impact of disclosure on reasonable accommodations, what HR should do to proactively support neurodivergent employees, common challenges and examples that HR might see, and HR-led strategies such as self-ID campaigns or creation of employee resource groups. Give me an outline of this presentation and an estimate of how much time to spend on each topic.
Organization and Prioritization
You’ve probably heard of a “brain dump list", or a “squirrel list”. These lists are helpful focus strategies during meetings for example. By capturing all of your random thoughts on paper, it can allow your brain to ‘let go’ of those thoughts so you can focus on something important. The downside is if you want to use that same list as an actual task list, it can quickly become overwhelming and chaotic.
Use Case: Ask ChatGPT to pull out the action items from your big chaotic list, then have it break the rest down into small actionable steps.
Example Prompt: Please examine the list of following queries. First, remove all the "todo:" items and put them in a todo list for me. Then, break the remaining items into smaller steps and add the first actionable step of each one to my to do list
Other cool use cases:
Synthesize important information from this document into bullet points. Or, pull out action items from this email into a task list.
Use it as a Watson, a rubberduck, or an interactive problem solving tool. “I want you to act as a rubberduck. I’m going to tell you a problem I’m having and I want you to ask clarifying questions and challenge my thought process. Prompt me to think about this problem in a different way and help me find a solution. Here is the problem:”
Check out this giant list of fun and useful ChatGPT prompts to explore more on your own. This is the original article that sent me down the rabbit hole.
ChatGPT isn't perfect and you need to have patience as you learn the best prompts to get you the right results. Play around with it and see which use cases are most helpful in your day to day life.
Do you have other cool ways to use it? Contact me at email@example.com to share!
Disclaimer: While ChatGPT can be a useful tool for managing executive function challenges, remember it is not appropriate for handling confidential information. Avoid using ChatGPT for your actual work, as this may result in privacy breaches that you could result in termination.