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What Does ASAP Even Mean?

For the record, and for any of our clients or prospective clients who may be reading this: everything we do is done as soon as we can possibly do it!

I imagine this is the case with most service-oriented small businesses. I mean, we often don't get paid until the work is completed, so we do it as quickly as we can.

ASAP stands for As Soon As Possible. However, we all know that it really means "drop everything you are doing and complete this task for me RIGHT NOW!" At least that's what I believe when someone says it to me.

I feel like I've been getting ASAP requests more often over the past several months, so I asked some colleagues how they felt about the term. The responses were mixed. Some felt similar to me that it was a demand to hurry up. Others don't think much of it. They simply think it's part of the communication style of the sender and does imply some impatience or urgency, but it's nothing more than that.

This wasn't enough research for me. I had to take my thoughts to Google. What do others think about this "ASAP"? Does it ruffle their feathers like it does mine? I had to know.

Not shockingly, there's plenty of content on the web about the term "ASAP" and about the etiquette around its use in emails and in verbal communication. Whew, maybe I'm not crazy after all. Actually, I probably am, or at least sensitive. Too sensitive I guess.

Of all the blogs and other content I found online talking about the use of "ASAP," this blog by Alison Green summarized the frustration with the term to me the best. Her blog is "is it rude to write ASAP in an email?" The blog is a good read, focused on a true experience she had.

What I pull from Green's blog that summarizing my thinking is this: ASAP isn’t annoying because it’s bossy or implies that you’d otherwise be lazy. It’s annoying because it’s vague. 

That's it! She nailed it. It's vague. What does "ASAP" mean to you? Do you need it today, within an hour, this week, tomorrow, when? That's really the issue. Life and work and even fun is rushed these days. We all have lots coming at us. We have limited time in our days to accomplish what's important. However, if we know what's most important, most of the time we can get that done.

So I'm over it. But if you want something from me AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, you're better off specifying the exact date and time you need and why. 

Resist the urge to demand it ASAP. Instead, request a specific due date or ask when a reasonable due date can be provided. Clear communication will reduce frustration on all sides and produce better results.

Taylor White

About the author - Taylor White

Small Biz Owner, Inbound Marketer, Husband & Father, Sports Fan — The Glass is Half Full!