Written by Vineet Sethi
If you’ve ever worked in an office or know someone who does, you’re probably familiar with the term ASAP.
You may think it’s a harmless phrase that means “as soon as possible.” But it’s a very stress-inducing term that can cause significant workplace problems.
It puts undue pressure on people to work as quickly as possible and can lead to mistakes or even burnout if used too often.
ASAP is ambiguous and not SMART, as it has no framework or deadline. It is a hope, a myth.
You’ll probably never be able to banish ASAP from your life entirely. But you can use it strategically without resorting to ALL-CAP abuse.
ASAP pressures people into working as fast as they can, and it is best used strategically or not at all.
The first step in determining whether this term should be used is by asking yourself whether the task really needs to be done ASAP.
Although some people may choose to work through their lunch hour or after hours until the project is complete, this practice should only be used if absolutely necessary—and only in extreme cases!
Choose to ask for a specific date and time.
The next time you ask someone to do something, aim for the specifics. Like, “Can you please complete this task by Friday morning?”
Avoid ambiguity and make the task completion time SMART:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Time Bound
It could be as simple as adding a few words that give a framework:
“I need this article finished by Monday at noon.” Or “Please send me these changes by 5 p.m.,”.
This way, if your request takes longer than you anticipated (and it will), your recipient will still have enough time to complete it before their deadline passes.
If someone says they’ll do something ASAP, ask when they expect it to be done. That way, you won’t be pressing them too hard, and they’ll be more likely to give you an honest answer.
Bob: Hey, boss! I can get that thing done in a jiffy!
You: Great. When do you think it will be done?
Bob: Oh, I’m pretty optimistic about my time frame—let’s say…a month at most?
Call out situations where ASAP doesn’t make sense. If a client asks for something “ASAP,” but with no rush, you could point that out in response: “It sounds like ‘as soon as possible’ doesn’t apply here.”
ASAP is a loaded term. It’s one thing if your client wants your service ASAP because they’re in a rush, but it’s another when they’re just trying to pressure you into working faster.
As soon as possible is only sometimes appropriate. If you do an awful job on their project (which will happen eventually), they will not be happy about it and may even try to penalize you by withholding payment or giving poor reviews online.
Finally, give some thought as to how often you’re using the term yourself.
This last step is crucial; if you’re one of those who still use ASAP, give yourself a moment and consider whether or not it’s a problem.
The sooner, the better can make people feel guilty, which is never good—and not good business! We all have lives outside work, so don’t make someone feel wrong about caring for themselves while they work on your project.
It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your use of ASAP and think about whether or not you’re using it effectively. If the answer is no, it may be time for you to try other strategies.
At Beyond The Panorama, we work with businesses to develop their digital brand presence; a big part is content writing for various channels. If you want help organizing this business function, we would love to have a conversation and set it up! Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org on our social media channels. ASAP.