February 20, 2013

“As soon as possible” is a fascinating phrase. It’s a client favorite. Allow me to dissect this phrase into the two obvious parts:

I need it as soon (your need) as possible (my ability).

“As soon” suggests when you need it, and “as possible” pertains to when I’m able to do it. If you were to ask me to do something “as soon as possible,” I would get to it when I have completed everything else I intended to in the foreseeable future (which could take a fair amount of time).

I need it tomorrow (your need).

What people often mean is “immediately” or “urgently,” although they don’t say it. If you were to ask me to do something “urgently,” or more specifically “tomorrow,” I would consider my current projects and adjust priorities if necessary. (Rush orders will surely incur a fee.)

“ASAP” isn’t a fixed point in time, does not denote urgency, and is ultimately left up to the person completing the task to determine when it will be done. If you have a deadline, be specific about it.