The Myth and Reality of “ASAP” in Achieving Results

Does “ASAP” really lead to ASAP results?

Crisis management is addictive. For many leaders, the sense of satisfaction and relief after “putting out a fire” is positively palpable. It’s so intense that many people try to recreate that sense of urgency even after a crisis has subsided.

We observe the progress that comes from sudden disruption–the energy, the urgency. We wonder to ourselves what we might be able to accomplish if we bottled that dogged determination and drank from it daily.

Suddenly, the deadlines we set are half of what they used to be. The project budgets and schedules submitted to us get arbitrarily reduced by 10 or 15 percent. We start sending emails at 8, 9, and 10 PM. Subconsciously (or perhaps explicitly), we hope others are doing the same.

Here’s the problem. It doesn’t work. And it has long-term consequences.

Study after study has shown that our brain needs downtime to function at its best. The longer we work (especially without breaks), the more susceptible we become to automatic cognitive biases, attention residue, and generally bad interpersonal behavior.

What is not often addressed is the knock-on effects these issues have on sustained, strategic, well-directed productivity. In other words, the logical implication is that sustained periods of working long, uninterrupted hours result in poor leadership and compromised productivity.


So, we’re challenging you to break the ASAP habit.

  • Limit your time to check and respond to email.
  • Use the delayed send feature to avoid sending late-night emails.
  • Identify the balls that can be dropped to accommodate bigger priorities.
  • Take a real lunch break.
  • Empower your team to communicate and manage burnout.
  • Let your work be rhythmic–encourage periodic downtime for creative thinking, strategizing, and catch-up.


What will you do to break ASAP’s hold on you?

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