A popular trend in workplace culture seems to consist of the idea that working hard is the only way to achieve success. Prioritizing effort and dedication over efficiency and functionality can result in a lack of productivity as well as a decline in health. Instead of indulging the idea that working hard is the ideal way to operate, it is more important to manage your time and complete necessary tasks in an efficient manner. Here are a few ways to work smarter instead of harder.

Plan for the Unexpected

When you have a busy or demanding role, trying to schedule everything you do may seem like an effective way to manage your duties. However, life rarely operates around a strict schedule, and more often than not, issues arise without any warning. One way to account for these circumstances without sacrificing productivity or free time is to pencil in an amount of time each day to deal with sudden developments. Doing this ensures that you have time to address any unexpected issues or projects that emerge and also facilitates a better workflow when addressing the existing items on your to-do list.

If nothing unexpected arises, you can make use of this time block to handle the next item on your agenda or step away from your work and take a walk.

Prevent Burnout

Burnout has become a sort of epidemic. Working too hard causes mental and physical consequences that negatively impacts your performance at work as well as your life outside of the office. If you feel you are getting behind in your work, avoid staying late or skipping lunch to catch up; instead, take time to give your body and mind the rest they need. When you take care of yourself, you set yourself up for success with improved clarity and cognition.

Assess Your Tasks

Compiling your tasks into an orderly list is the first step, but finishing here can leave you feeling overwhelmed. In order to effectively manage your time and your stress, you should spend a few minutes determining the importance of your tasks. There are some tasks you will want to accomplish but are of low priority and other tasks that are difficult but essential. Assessing the importance and urgency of your tasks can help you arrange your schedule in a way that best suits the needs of your workload.

Working more efficiently is more important than working hard because the latter can be detrimental to your health and productivity. Managing your time and workload so that you make the most of your workday can help you optimize your life inside and outside of the office.

This piece was originally published on MichaelRalby.org