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How did four letters get so much power?
People hear "I need this ASAP" and right on cue they rearrange their lives, cancel date night with the wife, put other projects on hold, and stay up all night to accomodate the request.
We generally believe people mean "fast" when they say ASAP.
But what does ASAP really mean?
As soon as possible.
It's actually extremely vague.
Unless you ask it's not clear.
And if you're sensitive to feeling pressure from others -- something that's been drilled into us through school and the workplace -- then this simple request can suck you in to what you perceive as the client's thinking and have you making poor decisions.
You hear ASAP and the "click-whirr" automatic program is to comply and do it now.
Every time you accept this request and comply without question you subtly weaken your positioning and lose a little bit of power in the relationship.
Here are two alternatives I've found useful:
First, ask for clarity. When specifically do they need the project completed? Many times their ASAP is much slower than you might assume. And if the deadline is within your regular service delivery timeframe then you can say "sure, no problem we have all our projects completed in X days".
Second, if they need it completed faster than your ASAP allows that doesn't automatically mean they get it done then.
Perhaps you apply a 50% surcharge (paid up front) for rush jobs. It's funny how many "critically important" deadlines become flexible once you do this.
Or perhaps they just have to wait.
(Try going into a doctors office and telling them you need to see the doctor ASAP, you'll be waiting in line just like everyone else.)
You might temporarily annoy someone, but they will get over it.
And they will respect you more for standing by your principles.