Assess Decide Do stages – Do

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.

If you came here directly you may want to check out first the Assess realm and Decide realm posts.

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.

Creating Miracles

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.

17 thoughts on “Assess Decide Do stages – Do”

  1. Dragos

    I shared your ADD approach during a coaching meeting last week with a client. Worked like a dream and he told me it helped him get some insight into something that had been troubling him for years. So thanks again for this approach .. and it really does work!
    .-= Ian | Quantum Learning´s last blog ..Heart of business =-.

    • Wow, that’s the best thing that can happen: if something I share creates value in others. I’m so curious about this, I’m sure will talk about it when we’re going to meet. Thanks for sharing this experience here 🙂

  2. Hi Dragos,

    I like the idea of prioritizing. Sometimes we become overwhelming because of many tasks we have to do which lead us to procrastination. We need to make a priority of the tasks. It means we have to do the hardest and most important task of the day first. We also need to split a task into small actionable steps.

    Love the post, Dragos. Thank you.
    .-= Arswino´s last blog ..What Does Love Mean? =-.

    • priortizing is necessary when you’re growing. During these periods you usually put so much more than you’re accustomed with on your plate and you need a way to get around this. Otherwise, you’re stuck. Also agree with splitting tasks into actionable items.

  3. Dragos, what a wonderful conclusion to this series. In all honesty, this last part just left me shaking my head in agreement with nothing to add. But rest assured, you gave me plenty of ideas for refining this whole process in my own life, and I intend to do exactly that. I really appreciate your systematized and balanced approach to each of the three steps.
    .-= Jonathan – Advanced Life Skills´s last blog ..The 5 Dimensions of Knowledge =-.

  4. You said: “If you start doing something, finish it. Or cut it out, if you can’t do it anymore.”

    There is a lot of good insights here but this one just JUMPED out at me. It’s something I’ve been thinking about and not just in relation to projects I am working on but everything in my life. If I’ve had email saved for months that is not a priority but something I thought I’d get to if I had time (BUT it sits there unanswered for wks/mos) …I’m realizing that either I respond to it or let it go, delete it. I can get 200 hundred emails a day and simply can’t respond to them all. (Another fact which I have to accept. :))

    This same principle could apply to clothes, possessions that we hang onto “just in case” we might want them down the road. I think it’s important to set a time frame. If I don’t use, wear, deal with, respond to, etc. within X amount of time (which can vary in relation to) then “cut it out” or delete it, or get rid of it, but decisively deal with it!!!

    I think this insight of yours is key to living. It’s one I’m going to think more about and implement more. Thank you Dragos, I needed to hear this especially today!
    .-= Robin Easton´s last blog ..Who Will Take the First Step? =-.

    • Letting go is so underrated these days. Just letting it go will create sometimes so much more energy than doing something. This is why I am so keen on that “cut it out” part of the sentence.

  5. Hello Dragos. Wonderful thoughts here!

    “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”

    This is great insight. When I first got into GTD type productivity I thought it was great. I finally realized however that it was severely lacking. I was organizing the 10,000 things I was doing much better, but I missed out on the most important part of figuring out what I really needed or wanted to do.

    Like the others here, finishing is something I struggle with all the time. I’m a master procrastinator at times. I need to do much better there.
    .-= Stephen – Rat Race Trap´s last blog ..Stop Being the Victim =-.

    • GTD is great at organizing things. It’s the best. I don’t think there is another system even close to what GTD is capable of in terms of organizing stuff. The only problem is that GTD doesn’t do stuff. You do it 🙂

  6. Like Kikolani said, finishing what you start to do is so very important. The problem with people today is that they don’t. I was speaking with someone that did a 30 day challenge, hoping to become a better writer. You know the idea that doing something for 30 days makes it a habit.
    She began and ran with her idea for a week, then “life got in the way”. Maybe it’s because I’m a former US Marine (my partner blames the Corps) that I just don’t accept that as an answer.
    Make a schedule and stick with it.
    Give things priorities and finish what is important first. Yes, the kids will get sick and wind will blow down a tree that blocks your driveway (it did at my home last week). Live with it. Get the kids to a doctor, then work. Cut enough of the tree to clear a path, then work.
    No matter what, don’t quit. Finish what you started.
    Finishing is one of the things that productivity trainers should target the most. Do you know anyone that paid $1000 for an online course and never finished? I do. That person would be better off hiring a productivity coach (me) and paying an extra $500 to actually finish the course, get something out of it and use what they learn to make money, become a better person… whatever.
    Sorry, that’s starting to get into being a rant.
    .-= McLaughlin´s last blog ..Europe Job and Career Resources =-.

    • Hey, I like talking with a former US Marine, while I was serving in the Army I had quite a lot of disciplining experiences and I’m sure you have a lot to tell about it. And you’re right: the biggest obstacle in front of doing something is not the lack of resources, but just “sticking to it”.

      And about ranting, feel free to start one, I don’t mind 🙂

    • I share with you the same concern: I’m far better at starting things than I am at finishing them. But I’m working on it 🙂

  7. Hi Dragos,

    I find making my task list for the week my job requirement even though I am now my own boss. It has been very useful cutting out wasted time of less important tasks.
    Once I wake up- go into my cave boot up read client email-nothing personal.Then take out what is priority while my head is clear.I take 90 minutes to 2 hours tops to work on these tasks before I go on to something else.
    The afternoon is spent on communication (call backs and emails) and boring things that need to be done.
    So I guess I provide myself the right atmosphere with no distractions and only the things necessary to work on one project at a time. This allows me to think clearly and be more productive.
    Wonder series you have here!
    .-= Bunnygotblog´s last blog ..Monday’s Mood – Chill, Baby! =-.

    • Seems like you have a lot on your plate: 90 minutes to 2 hours just to keep contact with your clients is big. I like your approach on that and I confess I do the same with my blogging: I write my posts using MacJournal‘s full screen capability which basically puts a green text on a black background. Makes focuding on what you’re writing a breeze.


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