A.D.D.: Assess Decide Do, A New Life Management System

A.D.D. : Assess Decide Do – A New Life Management System

a.d.d.Everyone likes to feel as if they have a great method for getting things done. But face it, there isn’t one right way to be productive. I recently came across a new method for keeping myself on track – A.D.D. (or Assess Decide Do). This life management system is the framework that I have come to live by. It’s easy to remember and it’s a basic guide to my entire life. It’s not a step by step process, not a computer program, not a to-do list. It is simply the guideline by which I live and work.

This system, which I’ve used now for several months, has made me conscious of the three steps, and which one I am currently using. I am, at any given moment, either assessing, deciding, or doing. Sounds pretty simple, right? It is. I am simply assessing my options, deciding on what I need or want to do, and then actually carrying out my decision. No matter what I am doing in life, I am always in one of these three stages. Now you might ask, no matter what? Think about it, you are always in some mode of thought or action (unless you are sleeping, which now that I think of it, is the doing stage).

These stages are in a delicate balanced cycle. If this balance is upset, then my life is not going as smoothly as it should. For example, if I stay too long assessing my options, I may not stay as focused as I should. If I take too long or too short to decide, I may not pick the right option and then change the outcome. If I take too long or too short doing, I could negate all of my earlier planning.

A.D.D., like any life management system, needs to have two clear goals: to identify which stage you are in, and to make a smooth transition between stages. And although this plan sounds incredibly easy, it actually takes some discipline and practice to keep the balance equal between stages. To understand this better, I will briefly discuss each stage and its function.


Before I implemented A.D.D., I felt like if I had a list, I had to add everything on it. That’s what a list is for, right? Sort of. I have found that I need to assess all the options out there for me, and interpret all the data around me to keep this stage in balance with the rest. There are many things that need to be assessed: personal values, short or long-term benefits, opportunity, availability, possible bad outcomes, etc. The list goes on and on. While all of these things are going around in my mind, I am in the assessment stage.

Where does it all end? At the point where I can’t add any more information it is time to move on to the decision stage.


This stage could not be any more clear-cut for me. There are only just two ways it could go: yes or no (or do it or don’t do it). I move on to the Doing stage if I have decided to do it. If I have decided not to do it, I get rid of it. In order to get rid of something, I decide if I will want to re-assess it later, or just trash the idea altogether. Either way, it is gone from my immediate future.

Sometimes I find that I have enough information to make my decisions, but I hold out for weeks or months to actually decide. This is especially true for really big life decisions. For the most part, though, I make my decisions quickly so I can move on to the next stage.


Now is the time that I drag out my to-do list. I have already made sure it was worthy of doing, and now all I have to do is to put it on the list and schedule it, and then finally, do it. Once I’ve finished the task or project, I go right back to assessing, which closes the circle and starts the cycle over again. I find that when I successfully go through all of these stages, I am more balanced as a person, and I actually feel better about myself.

Potential Problems

Like many things in life, this life management program has a few pitfalls to watch out for. One common imbalance is the over crunching stage. If I stay too long in assessing, I find myself crunching the data over and over, never moving on to the next stage. Not all the information is always useful. I keep hoping that the data I am gathering will be useful to me in some way later on. Avoid this at all costs to avoid an imbalance! When I find that I am over-analyzing, I know I need to step away from the information I am assessing and give it a reality check.

Another problem I ran into was that I would make a decision that I wanted to do something, but never took the steps to get there. “I want a new car.” Great goal, but from there what did I do, nothing! I have to make sure that I move from this decision stage to the actual doing stage. It could be a fear of failure, embarrassment, or some other excuse. I have to see those excuses for what they are and just do it!

I am a bit compulsive about getting things off of my list. I think I may be addicted to the feeling I get when I cross something out. I found that this desire to get things done stood in the way of me making accurate assessments and proper decisions. Once I learned to slow down and go through all the steps, I was able to avoid this junkie-like syndrome, and in the end, my to-do items were more important and meaningful.

Has this framework helped me? Absolutely. Instead of feeling overwhelmed with all of my options, I feel now like there is a clear path to actually making a decision and getting things done. I feel less flustered, and my to-do list no longer reads like a laundry list of all things wrong in the world. I am more productive, and more importantly, I feel better about what I am doing.

A.D.D. is an excellent tool for yourself but what if you are collaborating with others? Yammer, a social collaboration tool for communication on projects versus using email lists.

A.D.D. A.D.D. A.D.D. A.D.D. A.D.D. A.D.D. A.D.D. A.D.D. A.D.D. A.D.D. A.D.D. A.D.D.

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