The Worst Abbreviation in Business (And What to Say Instead)

July 22, 2019

Why ASAP is the worst abbreviation in business.

There’s one word that drives Dave Crenshaw crazy. Well, technically it’s not even a word, but an abbreviation for four – ASAP.

Why? Because it flies in the face of everything that is time management, according to the LinkedIn Learning Instructor and productivity expert.

“ASAP is a word, really an acronym, that means nothing and everything at the same time, especially from a time management perspective,” Crenshaw said in a video in his LinkedIn Learning course, Time Management Tips. “It isn't clear communication.”

LinkedIn Learning Instructor Dave Crenshaw explains why “ASAP” is a terrible phrase to use in the office.

“Consider this,” Crenshaw said. “When you say you need something as soon as possible, what does that really mean? In an hour, by the end of the day, the end of the week, after I complete the other project you delegated to me or right now? There are many ways in which a coworker can interpret your words.”

So, what should you use instead?

It’s simple. Be specific.

If you really need something immediately, say you need it immediately. For this, you should probably call the person and explain why.

More commonly, you likely don’t need it done right away, but soon. Be specific with how soon. Say, end of day or end of week. And make sure to explain why, so people understand the urgency and can solve it with you.

Additionally, if you are making a lot of urgent requests, it’s a sign you might not be managing your time well. And these urgent requests stress people out and damage relationships over time.

Look back at some of these emergency situations where you used ASAP. Could you have prevented them in any way with better planning?

Big picture, using ASAP is never a good idea, in both that it’s unclear and using it too much is often a sign of poor planning. Instead, be specific with your deadlines, and do your best to avoid these fire drills in the first place.

Want to learn more? Watch Dave Crenshaw’s LinkedIn Learning course, Time Management Tips Weekly

Videos within the course cover:

Topics