ASAP Means “Never”

A Truly Terrible, Over Used Acronym – An Indicator of a Sloppy Culture

ASAP – “as soon as possible”, this acronym has been in use for over 50 years. Its use is ubiquitous.

ASAP is all too frequently slapped on to every memo or email where a dues date is to be found. How does this help to prioritize work? What does it say about the person making the request? Will sometime tomorrow be just as good? Maybe next week sometime? Perhaps the requestor does not really know when they need it. When does the person requesting really need it? Is this a symptom of out of control work processes?  

Is this a crisis request? If it is then it is very important that the request date be the result of a negotiation with the person(s) providing the service or product. 

Next time you receive a request with a due date of “ASAP” send it back to the requestor noting, “ASAP means never. When do you really need it?” That will get the necessary conversation moving in the right direction. Do this even with your boss. Point out that ASAP does not help set priorities. Work takes time and the real question to be answered is what work will be delayed to get something urgent done.