Great business leaders should always seek out ways to work smarter, not harder. Efficiency is incredibly important, especially when time is money. Hard work is draining and long hours keep you away from your family and social life. It's important to keep a healthy balance between your work and personal life, so it only makes sense that you would want to find better ways to get things done. Here are five tips on how to work smarter, not harder:

1. Check your email first thing

It's important to check-in before you start your workday. Checking your email as soon as you sit at your desk helps you make sure you're on the same page as everyone else, whether it's your own team or clients you're working with. You'll know what to expect in your day and if you need to add or remove items from your to-do list.

2. Speaking of a to-do list...

Having a to-do list can be truly life changing for business leaders. As an executive, you have a lot on your plate. There are tasks to complete, projects to lead and delegated tasks you have to stay on top of. Having a tangible list of priorities and things that need to get done is an incredibly helpful way to stay on top of everything. There are many apps and programs than can help with managing your to-do list.

3. Work in time blocks

Multitasking is important and often times necessary. A helpful way to stay focused and get things done is to devote time blocks to certain projects. Once you've checked your email and updated your to-do list, decide what projects need to get done first. Once you know which tasks are priority, decide how long each task should take you and aim for that time frame. For example, you can devote one hour to project A, 30 minutes to project B and so on. If you own multiple businesses you can also dedicate certain days of the week to each business. This will give you a much more organized week and you can dedicate weekends to family time and keeping up with your hobbies.

4. Take breaks so your mind has a chance to refresh

It's important to give your mind (and your eyes, if you stare at a screen all day) a break. According to the Institute for Leadership Fitness, Ultradian Rhythms give our brain the ability to remain focused for only about 90 minutes at a time. By taking breaks roughly every 90 minutes or so, you allow your mind and body to recharge. Of course, some of us can't take 15-20 minute breaks so often during the day, but you should make it a goal to take as many as you can to help your mind stay sharp and your attention on point.

5. Always learn from your mistakes

As a business leader, you should always learn from mistakes. Don't repeat the same strategy and hope for a different outcome. Make improvements in your business plans and take risks every once in a while. One of the quickest ways to working smarter is by trying different strategies and solutions and seeing which ones work, which ones don't and which you can improve. Some business decisions like these are tough to make but work with your team or consult experts to determine if they're worth the risk.

Working smarter helps you increase productivity, and who doesn't want to get as much done as possible while you're on the clock? You should not be living to work, but working to live. When you know how to work smarter, you add value to your self, your business and your life.