Assess Decide Do stages – Assess

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.

Information Management

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 soon  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.

29 thoughts on “Assess Decide Do stages – Assess”

  1. Pingback: System Overload
  2. I would have to say that of your 3 realms, Assessing is where I spend a lot of my time-at least when it comes to big decisions. I have to mull over all the facts and ideas surrounding a given decision. Before launching our business, we researched meticulously and looked at every avenue related before moving on to actually deciding to move forward. If I understand your articles about ADD stages, then my decide and do stages are a lot shorter and less prominent than my assess stage.

    • Seems like you’re right, but I suppose you’re talking about business only. Different areas of our lives have different ADD implementations.

  3. Wow, what a brain you have to line all this up!! I am just blown away. I agree with Jonathan Wells said. You have a keen business mind.

    I liked many aspects of this article but especially like how you included dreams, memories and mediation as well, makes it more well rounded. I also really relate to this line and find it VERY key. “Evaluating without the pressure of a decision or a deadline is a very necessary step.” Even if I have a deadline or there is pressure to make a decision, something I do is to assess as if there were no deadline, no limitations, no need to decide. It allows my mind to wander into an expansive place of possibilities.
    .-= Robin Easton´s last blog ..What Forced You into Awareness? =-.

    • Thanks for the nice words and indeed, evaluation without pressure is a key factor in an ADD cycle. The decision and do realms can be heavily affected by an incomplete or plain wrong assess stage.

  4. Wow, this is a great guide to how to assess something. I often get stuck in either the dreaming or managing information stage. I like to really visualize things before I get started, and that takes a while for me sometimes. Or I like to go out and collect as much information as I can about something before making a decision about it, and again, that takes a huge amount of time and I’m not always that organized at it.

    ~ Kristi
    .-= Kikolani´s last blog ..Fetching Friday – Resources, #FollowFriday, Guest Post Opportunities, & New Moon Trailer =-.

    • For what I see, you’re very organized and curious. Getting “stuck” in some of the parts of the assessment is ok, as long as you find the resources to take a decision. A good assessment is often the key to a great decision followed by a fantastic implementation.

  5. Hey Dragos, I agree with Jonathan’s comment that you are quite the business person 😀 It comes through in your writing and thinking style. I love how you have clearly segmented the process into 3 clear stages. It actually reminds me of the Ready, Aim, Fire approach. On the assess stage, as you have mentioned, it’s important not to get stuck in this stage. Some people get too hung up on assessing and result in not getting anything done. In the end they end up in a stagnancy mode, which is worst making a supposed ‘wrong’ decision. This brings to mind one of my favorite quotes – When in doubt, take action, which talks about how taking action is usually better than just hesitating and doing nothing.
    .-= Celes | EmbraceLiving.Net´s last blog ..Cultivate a Good Habit in 21 Days =-.

    • The Assess stage is definitely one of the most appealing to a lot of people, and I think because it doesn’t involve any risk at all. Both decision and doing implies some risk, so maybe the comfort zone is what is keeping people in the Assess realm.

  6. Dragos, you are a true business person. It’s like a science for you, very cool. I watched this video called “Interview with Super Crunchers author Ian Ayres” and he was saying how handling this phase [assess] correctly is the key to creating predictable success.
    .-= Jonathan – Advanced Life Skills´s last blog ..Gas Station Wisdom From a Modern Day Sage =-.

    • Predictable success is in my opinion a correctly managed sequence of Assess, Decide, Do stages. As for the business part, well, thank you, I appreciate the nice words 🙂

  7. Hi Dragos.

    I find mediation helps me focus more.At times my brain goes into over loaded- I have to shutdown for a while, meditate in order to concentrate on the task it self. I can recognize the signs but have yet been able to change the habit of allow to many questions flowing in at once.

    Meditation is helpful with expanding your memory and focus.I have a good memory but if I am not interested then I don’t absorb the information.

    I seriously think your series is a fantastic source to improve these habits.
    Thank you for this insightful series and I am looking forward to reading more about ADD.
    .-= Bunnygotblog´s last blog ..A Great Woman: Rita Levi-Montalcini =-.

    • Meditation is great and I wish I could do it more often. In fact, I don’t see what stops me to do it more often 🙂 One thing I noticed is when I meditate or use other “slow reality” techniques, my focus become much more clear and I am able to see things I don’t usually see. Thanks for stopping by and for the nice words, always appreciated 🙂

  8. I think sometimes a lot of people dive into things too fast, instead of analysing and planning properly first. Great article!

    • Thanks for the nice words and you are certainly right, one of the reasons of failure is too often bad preparation. Assess stage is a little bit more than that, but it certainly contains preparation too.

    • Thanks for the input. Will see about that, main focus is to deliver some value, not to take the face of some acronym.

  9. Dragos, I think I have ADD, but the kind I have doesn’t stand for Asses, Decide, and Do! Your posts are becoming so content dense my ADD brain cannot absorb it all 🙂

    Seriously though this is great stuff and very well thought out. Thanks for helping us with our life management.
    [rq=4002,0,blog][/rq]Hold Your Goals Loosely

    • You’re the 2nd person pointing out the ADD ambiguity and I’m starting to think there’s more than a coincidence here. Attention Deficit Disorder may be as well just an imbalance in this Assess – Decide – Do flow.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Mark and glad you find something interesting here. Look forward for your comments on the next articles in this series. Your feed-back really helps me out here.

  10. Amazing, Dragos. You’ve outlined these processes very clear. They help me to understand more about life management.
    Thank you, Dragos. 🙂
    [rq=2239,0,blog][/rq]Parable of The Merchant and His Wives

  11. @Angela: thanks for stopping by and for the analogy about attention deficit disorder, it hit me only after I crafted the system, but I guess it’s not by coincidence. Maybe attention deficit disorder is just an imbalance in ADD (Assess, Decide, Do). 🙂

  12. @scott webb: I don’t do meditation very often nowadays, there were periods in my life when I did it on a daily basis. Right now I’m more on the observation and feed-back activities.

  13. ADD: Access, decide do: much more than the ‘attention deficit disorder’ one associates those letter with! And such a thoughtful, productive exercise. Thanks again, Dragos.

    Angela’s last blog post..Nearing The End?

  14. Do you do a lot of meditation? On a consistent daily basis?

    I try it for a few days adn then get wrapped up in other things.
    I really should make it more of a focus for myself. I find it so difficult to set a routine because my day job is on shifts and I’ve been asking about a fixed start time.

    scott webb’s last blog post..HDR Photography Workflow Series: *BONUS – HDR Tutorials


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