Using Point Of Performance (POP) To Support New Habits & Routines
Updated: Mar 20
When my oldest daughter was in Elementary School, mornings were a trial. Admittedly, both of us were not “morning people.” But the larger issue was my daughter’s neurodiverse brain which struggled to remember all the things she needed to do to wake up and be ready for school.
So we put a Morning Checklist in a prominent place in her room so she would see it first thing when she woke up. It went something like this:
Set alarm for 6:30am so alarm goes off (no wake-ups from M&D)
Turn clock so you can see time
Turn on a light or lamp so you can gradually wake up
Get out of bed by 7:00 am (Consider making time earlier if not working)
Take your meds (use weekly pill organizer)
Be completely ready with door open: Dressed with Shoes/socks on, coat on, computer away and snacks/lunch in hand by 7:20
This checklist was not a cure-all but it was effective. And so, many lists followed. We had a “Did you remember” list on the front door and a “Nighttime checklist” in her bathroom. I didn’t realize it at the time, but all of these strategies have a name, “Point of Performance.”
What is Point of Performance (POP) & why is it important?
Professor Russell Barkley defines Point of Performance as “The critical place and time for performing a behavior or a task in a natural setting (The Important Role of Executive Functioning and Self-Regulation in ADHD© ).”
The Point of Performance is the best place and best time to intervene so a person can stay on task. So if you have difficulty with a new routine or struggle with executive functioning skills, POP can help you get the results you want.
POP In Action
The best way to explain POP is to give a couple of examples where the Point of Performance works well:
Problem: You are pulled off task, distracted and not finishing what you started
Fix: Have everything you need at the correct time and place
Create a coffee station so you don’t leave to get a mug and then forget what you were doing and never finish
Keep a notebook by your bedside table so you won’t forget those amazing ideas you have in the middle of the night
Post a list on the door to your garage with what you need to bring with you to work every day
Problem: You are not meeting your own or others expectations
Fix: Put a reminder or a tool in the right area so you can see it or fix the behavior when it strikes
Stop eating past 10pm by putting a note in your snack area that says “NOT PAST 10PM”
You are expected to wait your turn at work meetings and not interrupt so you
Take a pad of paper into the meeting so you can write down your ideas while you wait, or
You ask your manager to go around the room so each person has a clear turn or
You mute yourself on Zoom
You want to read more instead of mindlessly scrolling on your phone so you take a photo of the current book you are reading and set the photo as the background on your phone
People with executive functioning issues (E.g., ADHD, HFA) struggle with impulse control, working memory and distraction. Point of Performance is a great tool that takes into account these challenges and lends extra support.
For the rest of us, Point of Performance will also come in handy when we are anxious or fatigued, and need that extra boost to support a new habit or routine.