ADD comes from “Assess Decide Do” and it’s a life management framework, initially described in this introductory post. As opposed to the regular productivity approaches, a life management framework focuses on a higher level integration and rejects the task checking approach as the only metric for measuring productivity performance.
In ADD, each individual can have only 3 main stages or can act in 3 main realms: the Assess realm, the Decide realm and the Do realm. Those stages are cumulative, in the sense that an imbalance in an early stage, like the Assess stage, can create negative consequences in the following stages. A balanced, constant flow between those 3 stages is the main metric of a fulfilling life management.
Today will talk about the Do realm.
Closing The Circle
The Do realm is where you are closing the circle you started to draw by assessing and then deciding something. It’s the final stage and the most physical one. Usually, what you’re doing is something touchable, real, as opposed to the Assess or Decide stages, which are mainly mental activities. The Do realm is like the visible part of an iceberg. You know an iceberg can show only a small part on the surface, and this is the Do realm, but the core of it is under the water, in the initial Assess and Decide stages.
The Do realm is also one of the most refined and talked about by productivity experts. Much of the writing and methodologies created in the productivity area is focusing only on the Do realm, including GTD. Productivity and effectiveness are mistakenly defined as a consequence of the Do realm, when in fact they are a consequence of an entire Assess – Decide – Do cycle.
If you did your job in the Assess and Decide stages, you’re not actually doing much in the Do realm. The only three activities are scheduling, prioritizing and finishing.
You have to create an understandable and manageable time frame for your activities and this is done by scheduling. You’re allocating energy and space. You’re putting some order around you. We all live in time and making the most of our time is one of the best thing we can do.
Scheduling means in fact to acknowledge that you will be available for that specific task at a specific time. If you’re not scheduling your activities, you’ll actually reject them from your timeline. You’ll send a message of non-availability. But if you’re scheduling, you’re sending to yourself a message of availability.
As any other activity, scheduling can be improved, refined and automated. There are tons of books on how to use your time, and the intent of this post is not to offer a scheduling tutorial. All I want to stress is that one fundamental activity in the Do realm is scheduling, or sending messages of availability.
Reality is changing. Your universe is changing. What was important yesterday may not be so important today, or tomorrow. Prioritizing your doing means give room to what’s important now as opposed to what you thought it was important yesterday. Prioritizing comes after scheduling and it’s an important, often ignored part of the productivity process.
Prioritizing will conflict with scheduling and that’s something normal. Prioritizing means giving space and energy to what’s important now and reschedule what was left out. Many people get confused when they have to make changes based on the priority of the tasks but that’s an important part of the Do realm.
How do you know what’s important and what’s not? Well, that is something you will have to micro Assess-Decide-Do every time. As I already mentioned, ADD is an abstract framework and supports any implementation you want. For instance, there will be a different prioritizing strategy in an ADD implementation for programming, than to an ADD implementations for relationships.
If you start doing something, finish it. Or cut it out, if you can’t do it anymore. As simple and dumb as it sounds, finishing is a very important part of the doing process. So important, that I felt the need to make it a separate process.
One of the most subtle yet powerful ways to procrastinate (like really procrastinate, loosing your time) is to remain stuck in a project or task for ever. There is this pressure not to finish the task, because… well, because you’ll have to do something else. And you don’t want. Or you are scared. Or bored. Or whatever.
I’ve been there so many times that I had to come up with a finishing strategy. I’ve been caught in so many situations where finishing seemed strange or inconvenient or not appropriate that I really had to reconsider all my attitude towards finishing. I’m sure you’ve been there: caught in a sticky relationship, in a never-ending project, in a just-above-the-fold job, and so on.
Finishing is the most important part of doing something. It frees your resources, it makes room for something new and it feeds the next Assess session. If you’re not finishing what you’re doing, you’ll never be able to assess what you’ve done so far. Your ADD cycle will be stuck.
Doing is where the miracle takes place. By doing what you assessed and decided, you’re changing your reality the way you want. Assessing is just a perspective and the decision is just an intention. If those are not backed up with constant activity and with real life actions, your Assess-Decide-Do cycle will be broken.
But if you’re staying enough time in this cycle, if you succeed in Assessing, Deciding and Doing on a regular basis, if you engage totally in each part and let yourself flow freely through those stages, if you really become aware of the whole process, as simple and yet as powerful as it is, you’re going to create miracles.
Starting with yourself.