In the corridors of business and industry, government, defense and education, you can hear people say “I need that report ASAP” … “I’d like that document ASAP” … “I want that task finished ASAP.”
The initials ASAP show up in messages of all kinds: formal letters, emails, voicemail, text messages and even instant messages.
How much of the time, however, is an assignment or task truly needed as soon as possible? If you’re a supervisor or a team member working with others and you overuse ASAP, shame on you!
A saner way to proceed
Here’s my attempt to rid the working world of overusing that dreaded terminology, umm, ASAP. In that effort, here’s an eight-element hierarchy of requests that can help ease some of the unnecessary pressure we all face when too many people say that they need something “as soon as possible!”
- As soon as possible (ASAP): Drop whatever you’re doing, focus on this request and finish it as quickly as you possibly can. (Hence it is important and urgent.)
- Highest priority: Put this at the top of your to-do list.
- Please rush: Complete this request and report back quickly.
- Priority: Put this high on your list of things to do.
- As soon as practical: Fit this into your schedule and do your best to complete it in a timely manner.
- Urgent: Handle this in an expeditious manner, but don’t bump priority items.
- Important: Get to it when you can.
- For your information: Look at it once, when and if you want to.
Got it? Now breathe …
How does this eight-element list work for you? Additions? Subtractions? Please join the conversation. We want to know what you think.