Natural Productivity – Introducing iAdd for iPhone

I’m really excited as I write this: iAdd for iPhone is live on the App Store [and that’s an iTunes link for the impatient one]. It’s been a long journey, but I’m finally there. 🙂

Why is this so important for me? Why is this not just another product launch in the day to day routine of launching products? Because this is what you’re supposed to do if you’re running (even a very small) software company, right? You’re releasing products.

Well, iAdd is special. iAdd is part of a bigger personal breakthrough. If you’re just an iPhone app junkie (which means we’re sharing a big common interest here) go ahead and click on the iTunes link, buy the app, (it’s only 2.99 USD) and start using it. It will change your life.

But if you’re a little bit curious about how I came up with this productivity app, take 7 to 10 minutes off from your regular duties and start reading, I promise it won’t take more than that.

Being A Productivity Junkie

I had my share of GTD from its early days, back in 2005-2006. I was fascinated by the system, excited by its promise (“mind like water”) and extremely enthusiast by the actual implementation. I started to GTD in 2006 and I was an evangelist until 2008. But at some point, something started to feel a little bit wrong.

I was still doing incredibly more “stuff” than before using GTD and I also was pretty balanced when it came to personal / professional life. But then again, something was out of sync with the bigger picture. In a few months I had to admit that I was over GTD. Precisely, over the GTD hype. Just click on that link and you’ll find out more about what I kept and what I threw out form my GTD experiment.

This was the beginning of a long and somehow confusing process. There were many situations in which I needed the power of GTD, but then again there were situations in which GTD as a framework seemed inflexible and downright awkward. I fell off the GTD wagon and didn’t embarked on a new train.

Even more, the whole productivity thing started to feel artificial and unnatural. That was the time when I discovered what I still call the productivity trap. Just read the article and you’ll know what I mean.

Natural Productivity – What The Frack Is This?

Sometimes more than a year ago, during one of my trips to Thailand, I suddenly discovered something so simple, yet so powerful, that left me puzzled for a few weeks. Please stop smiling and don’t even think to write some smart comments about what people are usually discovering in Thailand, because I know what you mean ;-). Right now I’m talking about productivity, ok?

So, I discovered that we’re not always in the same state. We, as human beings, are not designed only to get things done. We’re not made only to Do. We’re also made to Assess our environment and to Decide whether or not we’re going to do something. Some of you may say that this is a very simple discovery. And they’ll be perfectly right, by the way. I told you it was something really, really simple.

A few weeks later, my own life management workflow, called Assess – Decide – Do was ready. From that point, several approaches were made, including ADD for programming and ADD for relationships. Feel free to dig into these articles if you wanna know more about the framework.

Right now, just for the sake of the presentation, I will rehash some of the concepts, just to give you a short heads up:

Assessment is the state in which you analyze, compare, learn and store your experiences.

Decision is the state in which you project your next reality. You’re coming to this stage after finishing an assessment session completely.

Doing is the state in which you’re using focus to create your next reality. You’re doing only after you have a clear decision to follow.

Each of these states are maintained by your focus and you’re shifting from one state to another by being in flow.

Flow is not a measurable concept although we can refer to it as bigger, lower or we can define some quality of it. Flow is usually perceived as your capacity of enjoying and alignment with your current context. Most of what we call joy, happiness or exhilaration is in one way or another a variation of a great flow we’re experiencing.

If focus will be the main tool for creating your reality we may refer to the flow as the master glue for keeping the pieces together. A healthy flow will allow you to go from a complete assessment to an atomic decision and that will lead to a totally immersed activity of doing.

Well, that’s what I call natural productivity.

iAdd WorkFlow

Now back to the iPhone app. How do you implement this workflow using the iPhone app?

First of all, the app only has 3 tabs, each one corresponding to a specific realm. They’re even named like that: “Assess”, “Decide” and “Do”. Also, each tab has an icon which will intuitively let you know what you’re allowed to do in that specific realm.

Assess has a “+” sign as an icon, meaning that’s the place where you add stuff to your plate. This is where you overload your system with data. The theme color is red, which means: “stop and empty your brain” before moving further.

Decide has a “?” sign as an icon, meaning that’s the place where you decide if, when and where are you going to perform a certain task or to attend to a specific event. The theme color of this realm is orange, which means: “pay attention and be prepared”.

Do has a “-” sign as an icon, meaning that’s the place where you actually take out stuff from your system, by doing it. You cross of things as you do them. The theme color of this realm is green, which means: “you’re good to go”.

Pretty simple, right? Exactly, that’s the ideas behind the whole framework. Now, what happens after you add something to the system, after you’re using your “+”?

Well, you can edit that piece of information, right in the Assess realm, choosing what type of info is: task, idea, event or project.

Once you’re ready, you can either send it to Decide, in case you wanna decide when and where are you going to do it, either assign it to a collection, meaning you’re going to decide about it later.

Once in the Decide realm, all you have to do is to set a date, a place (most of the time you’re going to use a previously defined Context for the place) and a priority. After you assigned that, you’re ready to send it to Do. You won’t be able to send a task without a due date. Simply because a task without a due date is a task upon you didn’t decided yet.

From here, you can either do that task, and delete it after that, either skip it, in which case the task will appear as overdue. Only if the task is overdue, you can start the reverse process, sending the task back to Decide and from Decide to Assess, if you want. Most of the time you will only send it back to Decide, to assign a new due date.

That’s all there is to it. Really.

Before launching it I used the app for more than 2 months. One thing I noticed is that my overall state was significantly steadier than before using it. Not too much inner pressure for doing certain things, not too much anxiety. I still had a lot to do during those 2 months. And I’m a really focused guy and I do like to do my stuff, so it wasn’t about me becoming lazy. It really had something to do with the way I structured my activities. I won’t say that iAdd for iPhone will completely eliminate anxiety from your life, but it will certainly give you a much steadier structure. Why?

Tasks in Assess aren’t going to be done. Not yet. And that’s ok. You don’t really have to. Even more, they’re not even tasks, until you “sign a contract” to do them. They’re just things you’re assessing. You can modify them, you can even delete them, you can store them in a collection for further reference.

In Decide, you set the context and time for a certain task. At that moment, the piece of information from Assess becomes an actionable entity. A task or an event. You’re not assessing it anymore, you’re making a decision. But that’s all there is to it, only a decision. Until you actually send it to the Do realm, the task can stay in the Decide realm for as long as you’re comfortable with.

And in Do, you don’t have to focus on how or why (it’s been done in Assess), nor on when and when (it’s been done in Decide), all you have to do is… well, doing it. 🙂

This approach fits really well in your daily routine. You may have hours (or even days) in which you love to be a doer. Focus on the Do and start crossing off tasks. Sometimes, you’re in a planning mood. Just go in Decide and start allocate tasks and events to specific contexts and days. You don’t have to do them, just sign the contract that you’re going to do them at some point. And sometimes you’re just brainstorming (that’s the professional term for daydreaming, by the way). That too is perfectly ok. You are allowed to do this. Just write it down in the Assess realm and enjoy the process. You may turn those ideas into projects later if you really want to.

The Upcoming Ebook On ADD

But wait. There’s more. While I was working on all of these ADD related tasks (like the blog posts above, the app, etc) I realized there’s need for an organized way to put all these concepts together.

So, I started to write an ebook which will deal exclusively with this ADD framework. I’m over half way to it, and I expect it to be ready in a few weeks. I don’t know the exact date (I’m still assessing it), but I’m confident that it will be ready soon. Confident enough to give you a small teaser here, that is.

You may even consider this a soft pre-launch. I know there’s quite a hype on the blogs lately with these soft launches. Well, now I have mine too. 🙂

iAdd On The App Store

Now, that was really all about the app. You can go to the App Store now, by clicking this link and buy it. 2.99 USD is a really small price to be paid for putting your life together. Wow, sometimes I feel like the worst salesman in the world, you know? 😉

The price will stay at 2.99 USD for a while, but as I will roll out the next features (because there is a roadmap which will include a lot of amazingly interesting features, and I mean it) well, as I will roll out these features, I may shift it up a little. I’m not sure yet, I’m still assessing it, so when I’ll make a decision about it, you’ll know.

Until then, enjoy it. 🙂



Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner


The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”

And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.

Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.

If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.

Running For My Life -from zero to ultramarathoner

Dragos Roua

The guy who started all this. Entrepreneur, ultra-marathoner, tanguero, father and risk taker. I'm blogging here, but I also spend a lot of time in this marvelous space.. You're invited, by the way.

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Congratulations, Dragos!

    The app looks fantastic and very useful, too. Sometimes the simplest things make the most difference and I can definitely see where you categorize each task can help you figure out whether to Assess, Decide or Do with it.

    Plus, you’re putting out a book on this? Wow, David Allen had better be ready for some competition 🙂 I can see this new framework helping a lot of people as GTD can be very frustrating and complex to some people.

    Great job on the App and I’m looking forward to checking out your book.

    Karen

    1. Hey, Karen,

      Thanks for the nice words, much appreciated. As for David Allen and his competition, I don’t really know about that 😉 The two frameworks re overlapping only on one realm, and that would be the “Do” realm. Implementing ADD is more like a complementary approach to GTD, not a complete replacement.

  2. Hi there,

    The app looks great. Certainly something that would be useful to have to keep yourself organised for your day/ weeks work ahead.

    Thanks for sharing this. And Congratulations on the book 🙂

  3. Dear Dragos, I know you have been working on this iPhone app for a while, and as you know, I am mad about my genius iPhone too – I will be checking it out and reading the details of this post (to be honest, I haven’t finished but you know I will) very soon today in between breaks….I think with all the work you put into it, $2.99 is a steal. Best of luck to thousands of downloads!!! 🙂

    1. Well, thanks for the nice words and overall appreciation. On a side note, putting the right price on an iPhone app must be an art. I’ve seen a lot of approaches and the more I study it, the more puzzling I find it.

      Anyway, until I have a decent number of downloads / feedback /review I won’t be able to say if the price is really a steal or not.

      But I got your point anyway 🙂

  4. wow! good stuff Dragos, and congrats buddy! I’m so bummed because I lost my iphone in a cab 2 days ago :/

    Waiting for my next one to come by…. but I can definitely see this app keeping me in check with my productivity.

    Looking forward to trying it out!

    –Parker

    1. So sorry to hear about that loss 🙁

      Would love to hear your feedback once you get back on your feet. Thanks 🙂

  5. Congratulations, Dragos! Way to go! I am continually inspired by your energy and motivation in getting things done. I am going to introduce it to my husband who has an iphone!

    1. Thank you, Evelyn

      We know each other for almost two years now and I think we’re really fortunate to continue our paths at the same pace. I really like your message and you know that.

      As for the iPhone app, I would love any type of feed-back now 🙂

  6. I think this app looks really useful, but it sounds like classic GTD to me. That’s a good thing! GTD isn’t just about doing. There’s natural decision making, perusing your projects list to choose a next action and the weekly review where you figure out if you did what you planned to. The review in particular keeps you in touch with the bigger picture. That said, there’s always room for new ways of configuring how you think about your workflow and keep track of it. Hope your app does well!

    1. Well, with all due respect, it does very little in common with GTD. It’s a completely new framework. Some key differentiators are:

      – there’s no need for a weekly review (as in GTD), you can switch back and forth between Assess, Decide, Do as you see fit

      – there’s really no concept of “next actions”, everything that gets to be Done is sent to the Do realm

      – GTD aims to Get Things Done, ADD aims to keep you balanced and keep adding value to your entire life, not only to the Do-ing part of it. Meaning you can spend as much time as you want in the Assess and that would be ok (as opposed to GTD which is a practical methodology of action; in GTD terms that would be called procrastination 😉 )

      Thanks for the nice words, by the way, much appreciated 🙂

  7. Hi Dragos, truth is I’m not a smart phone guy. I actually enjoy being away from technology when the opportunity arises. That said, I still think what you’ve done is amazing. The coding and framework stuff is way beyond my comprehension and I think this is a very impressive accomplishment. Congratulations!

  8. Congratulations Dragos, this looks an amazing app for the iPhone. I don’t have an iPhone yet but my son does and some of the apps are amazing. I wish you all the luck in the word with this one.

  9. […] Natural Productivity – you could benefit from the Access, Decide, Do school of thought […]

  10. I welcome your (new approach) on GTD, materialized in this application. I’m looking forward to give it a try, but … there’s a but. Although it seems a very interesting GTD app and it has a reasonable price, I would very much want to try it for free. And maybe I’m not the only one. Did you think of a free limited version of the app? Limited could mean you cannot add more that a few items in each category.

    1. I thought about this but it would be much more reasonable to give promo codes to those who want to try it for free. So, if you want a promo code I’d be happy to give one to you, just hit me up (contact page should be self-explanatory).

      And welcome to my blog 🙂

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