Our society is obsessed with the concept of being the best at what we do and often overworking and becoming a ‘workaholic’ is the means to that goal. Hollywood loves to portray this too from the humor of Robin Williams in RV to the intensity of Bradley Cooper in Limitless.

According to a recent survey, one-third of Americans are chronically overworked. According to the 2013 OECD Better Life Index, the United States ranks 28 out of 36 advanced nations in the category of “work-life balance”. This overworked mentality and reality is bad for your health, according to these facts:

  • People who work eleven hours per day rather than eight have a 67% increased risk of developing heart disease.
  • Those who work more than 50 hours per week are three times more likely to develop an alcohol-abuse problem.

So, here are a few tips you can implement to work smarter, not longer:

Make Relaxation Part of Your Day

Learning to work smarter, not longer will increase productivity and help to eliminate the potential disastrous results from being overworked. Take a break for a few minutes at a time each day and relax periodically. You should relax by physically slowing down. Take deeper breaths, drink more water, take a walk outside. All of these things will help you to relax your body and your mind and will make you more productive.

Condense Your Workload

Give yourself a set amount of time to work each day and each week, and stick to it. You’ll find yourself becoming more productive during the time you actually work, because you have to get your stuff done faster. To help you stick with your new schedule, set appointments for 30 minutes after you’re supposed to be done. So if you tell yourself you’re absolutely going to stop working at 5 p.m., set an appointment for 5:30 p.m. and stick to it. Make it a barber or beauty shop, or an appointment with your spouse or kids or workout partner. Whatever you do, stick to it.

Have Set Email and Social Media Times

Don’t allow yourself to be available to the world every minute of the day. Set times when you will check and respond to email. You really don’t need to be connected all the time. Now take that time that you save from responding to email, and claim it by reducing your work hours. Also, now that you’re not being interrupted all the time, you can focus more.

Don’t Skip the Vacation

Taking the occasional vacation for a few days at a time can help you physically and emotionally recharge. If you can’t afford your dream vacation, more affordable mini vacations or stay-cations can be the answer. Take a day off to go hiking or sightseeing. Visit a relative within driving distance for the weekend. Pretend you’re a tourist in your own city and visit some attractions. Take the family camping. Whatever your vacation idea, schedule it on your calendar and plan for it in advance. The payoff is greater balance between your personal and professional lives as well as something fulfilling to look forward to. Your business will survive without you, so leave the laptop at home.

Don’t become one of the statistics from above. Work smarter and enjoy a healthy and productive life.