Cognitive Domains: Planning
For most people, making daily plans to complete chores and errands is nothing new. For example, you might be going out to an appointment at the doctor and you plan to drop by the grocery store on the way home in order to pick up some bread. But then, things don’t go according to the original plan. You’re done at the doctor and realize that you can’t go to the grocery store yet because you’re low on gas. So, you go the gas station and on the way you get a phone call asking for help to take your grandchild to a piano lesson.
It’s easy to see how with planning, it’s common to encounter scenarios that require you to make adjustments. You need to be able to add new items to your original plan or make an entirely new one.
For someone who struggles with planning, making ad-hoc adjustments can be frustrating. As a result, an inexperienced planner might give up on some activities. But for an experienced planner, this can be tackled as a challenging cognitive task. With the previous scenario, an experienced planner might recognize that it’s best to fill up gas and pick up bread before going to the doctor's appointment. Especially if this experienced planner is used to getting last-second phone calls for help at that time of day. By putting known priorities first, it becomes simple to pick up the grandchild after going to the doctor.
How Planning is Defined
Overall, you could say that planning is a mental process for making a strategy to accomplish an action. This can involve more than one component like: analyzing the challenge or task you need to complete, figuring out what resources are required, breaking everything down into smaller steps, and figuring out what your priorities are. You could think of planning like making a mental map.
The cognitive domain of planning is defined as follows by the APA Dictionary of Psychology:
“in cognitive psychology, a mental representation of an intended action, such as an utterance or a complex movement, that is presumed to guide the individual in carrying it out.”
For planning, there might be a lot of crossover with other cognitive domains because it’s part of a larger group called executive functions.
You can read about executive functions here.
How to Improve Your Planning
If you’re not an expert planner yet, you can use Cognishape to get better trained. We’ve designed specific tasks that can help you to improve your planning. Here’s an example of one of these tasks:
“Do you have plans for the upcoming weekend?
Share with me please.
How often does your weekend look like that?”
This task works to improve planning, semantic memory and verbal fluency.