Most people spend time like they do money: until it runs short. Then they seek a way to compensate. The best approach, of course, is a disciplined lifestyle that prevents time (or money) from slipping away in the first place.

However, if your schedule has you swamped, consider these emergency measures:

Clean off the desk

Sweep away everything you won't use for the next six weeks. The most productive week of our lives is the week before vacation. In that week, we clear the deck, make decisions, and delegate. Leaving unfinished work lying around makes us feel guilty and swamped.

Get up 15 minutes earlier

We could gain an hour and 45 minutes a week. Why not get up an hour earlier? Well, that might be an overload for our will. For example, lifting a 200-pound bag of cement is a physical overload. Lighter bags are manageable. Likewise, our will can support getting up 15 minutes earlier.

Keep passion alive; fight complacency

While routine challenges are always there, not everything in life is of equal importance. We must frequently re-energize our work by living with “big purpose.” Mission, vision, and purpose bring excitement to our work. We recently brought in a new executive at our headquarters. She spreads excitement and inspiration, enabling overworked employees to feel passionate about their work, and the organization thrives.

Make quality choices

Things that satisfy human ambition have been called the wood, hay, and stubble activities. If there is time for these things within appropriate limits, they're fine. However, these activities can drain a lot of time. Quality choices keep us focused on identifying the “driving gears” and avoiding the “idling gears” of our work.

These considerations are not about waging a battle to speed up. They are about gaining time, about aid for the swamped.

A person was asked, “What's a living wage for you?” He replied, “a little bit more than I'm making now.” Three months later, he would say the same thing, because we often raise our standard of living to whatever we earn. Likewise, time gained must be judiciously focused to offer relief for the swamped.