ASAP? Most likely not.

Hello, people of the internet!

Hopefully, everybody is having a good day :)

So let's start with the story here. There is somewhere in some start up a person named John Done (familiar name right?). John is a CEO with a technical background, but since there are so many CEO things to take care of, and the product needs to scale he hired five engineers. Also on the business side of things he hired a business development person, a customer success person and a project manager. Also, John has been lucky enough to get VC funding and has raised a lot of money for his series A round. Pretty familiar start-up story.

John wakes up on Tuesday morning, goes to the office, opens up his laptop and has 10 slack messages. One of the messages is from his VC asking him when is he going to hit that revenue projection he made for this year? VC is requesting to see financials ASAP. Another message comes from his engineering team saying that the Project Manager is pushing them too hard and they need to talk to him ASAP. Another message is from his Project Manager saying that their engineers are not being very responsive and they need to hire more ASAP. Sounds fun right?

John naturally starts fixing all of the issues in the same time and of course, he fails at fixing almost all of them. Then he feels overwhelmed with issues and he tries to fix again by pushing even harder and trying to do even more at the same time.

This kinda reminds me of a story I read where a person wanted to cut this huge tree with a dull axe. He swings once and he sees barely any progress. He swings ten more times and sees no improvement. Then he gets frustrated and starts swinging like a maniac, in hope that he will cut the tree faster. Guess what happened? He did not cut the tree.

Simply put, the only time you truly need to do things ASAP is when there is a life threat. For example, you are crossing the street and all of sudden there is a huge truck in front of you, you need to move ASAP or you are going to die. Another example would be there is a huge lion that threatens to have you for dinner, you do something about that ASAP. One more would be if a person is pointing a gun in your face, you better do something ASAP about that as well. You get the point.

Unless you are in any of those situations mentioned above, you most likely don't have to do things ASAP. Nobody is going to die. But why are we doing things ASAP that are not ASAP? And the answer is in our very ancient brain. It's just wired like that. Every time it feels pressure, fear or any negative emotion of that type, it goes bananas. Your brain literally thinks if you don't get that done, you are going to be eaten by a saber tooth tiger. Sound's silly doesn't it?

Now John from our little story above felt pressure from every part of his company to fix things, and he felt like if he did not fix those issues ASAP he will lose the company. Now you might ask John does he really thought he would have lost a company if he did not fix all of the things ASAP, and he might tell you he did not, but his subconscious does not agree with that statement. ASAP things are usually dictated by our subconscious and we usually don't even notice it.

Now onward to the solution. How to fix this? Well, I have not discovered a perfect cure for it yet. I read a bit on the topic, tried a couple of things on my own and what worked for me is just being self-aware. I know how I physically feel when I have the urgency to do things ASAP, how my stomach and my brain feels and I tell myself I should slow down and nobody is going to die. It does not work every single time but so far it was pretty helpful. So you slow down, think through the problem, see what's wrong and how can you fix it and then you engage. You don't see that message and jump right into it, because that leads to failure, exhaustion, being unhappy and many other bad things.

One might argue that doing things fast and having a sense of urgency are very important and I could not agree more. But ASAP is on the extreme side of things and it's not really doing thing fast, it's just trying to do things fast and then hitting roadblocks.

Hopefully, this helped some people. Let me know what you think about the article.

Have a wonderful rest of the day!

Nikola Novakovic

Software engineer that loves business side of things as well. Also lifts a lot of weights.

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