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 Assess realm.
The Assess realm is the place where you will do most of your evaluation. You can evaluate your current situation, the outcome of a previously done task, a possible outcome for a possible task, in one word: everything. In the evaluation process you don’t necessarily have to DO, or DECIDE anything, but this process will deeply impact any of your deciding or doing activities.
Evaluating without the pressure of a decision or a deadline is a very necessary step. Too often I found myself lost in a decisional process or even in the middle of a larger project because I skipped or under-considered the evaluation/assessment step. Assessing something means you’re simply looking at something, you’re acknowledging the fact that something new (or worthy) have entered your focus.
Evaluation is only one of the possible activities in an assessment stage, but it’s usually the one that ends this very stage, by promoting the idea, the project or the task to the decision realm.
The assessment stage is the one in which you’ll do most of your information management. Crunching new pieces of information, categorizing them, putting higher or lower in your value system is an activity which takes place in the assessment stage. Again, mixing it with a decision or a doing realm will do no good, as it will either slow down the decision or the doing process, either tamper it with undesired pieces of information.
Managing information is a static activity in itself. You’re not doing anything – doing, as in modifying your universe – while you’re managing information, you’re just classifying various inputs from the outside (or the inside world).
As the name implies, feed-back is an activity which takes place immediately after something was done, after something has been modified in your own Universe. Assessing feed-back is a crucial activity in the assessment stage, it really helps you understand if your actions were improving or wrecking your environment.
You take feed-back by comparing your initial status, the moment you started modifying something in your universe, with your current status. You will receive feed-back for a wide variety of sources: your physical senses (as in it’s colder or warmer than before)., your emotions (this thing makes me feel in a certain way), your memories (this looks a lot like something I’ve done before) or the people you interact with.
Feed-back is usually one of the earliest activities in the assessment stage, as it is often immediately required after an action has been finished.
Assessment cannot work without fresh information, it needs this as a comparison outlet. In the assessment stage you’ll observe a lot. Observation is an activity closely related to information management, but its place is at the very beginning of the information management. Observation is an input for the information management activity.
As any input, the clearer and less distorted, the best the results. Observing things as they are, and not as you imagine they are is an art in itself. Training observation is a difficult and delicate activity. Becoming a detached observer will make your assessment periods shorter.
Dreaming is the capacity of imagining things which are not yet real. Dreaming plays a very big part in the assessment period. Most of the time, you decide to do things based on deep and extremely emotional inputs, coming from what you call your dreams. Creating a newer and better reality comes from dreaming first, from the ability to imagine unborn things and ignite the triggers to create them.
The classical approach to dreaming is to either discard it totally as completely unproductive, or to classify it as procrastination, the activity in which you are preventing yourself from doing things, by inventing excuses. I do think dreaming is fundamental and is a very productive activity. As long as you acknowledge it as a very necessary step in the assessment realm.
The things you’re doing are becoming memories the moment you finish them. Accessing your memories is an important part of your life. It helps maintain an identity and a sense of coherence in time. Without memories, your perspective can become twisted. Most of the time, your value system is based on things you recall as being good or bad to you.
Keeping your memories in good shape – like in creating and maintaining a memories management system – will hugely impact your overall presence. Only after you understand the past you, the present you can become a reality. One very common pitfall in the assessment stage is clogging your perspective with unsolved memories, with things from the past which are crying for a newer approach.
Solving those situations in the assessment stage will take a lot of pressure from your decision and doing realms.
Assessment needs a clear perspective. When you decide, you already move, when you do, you are the movement, but when you assess, your whole world can slow down, until it becomes stillness. Nobody will rush you. Meditation is one precious activity which can dramatically enhance your perspective. Seeing the world from a sill perspective is enlightening. Meditation can do that.
Of course, is not compulsory to use all of the activities described here, including meditation. As a matter of fact, in real life, it would be rather difficult to identify all those activities in an assessment session at the same time.
When To Move To Decision
The moment you stop assessing something you should immediately move to the decision realm. Staying in the assessment realm for longer periods can induce a sense of comfort and security, which, if not rapidly challenged, will be modified pretty soonÂ by “outside” factors. In other words, if you don’t move faster, something outside your control will force you to do it.
One thing we should definitely want to remember about assessment, and about the whole ADD paradigm, is that any process can contain smaller, or micro-ADD cycles. During the assessment cycle you may find the need to quickly decide and then do something, and then come back to your main assessment topic. In this respect, ADD is very close to the fractals definitions, in which the smaller parts are actually identical with the bigger parts.
But more on that in the next topic, which will be, of course, about the decision realm.