Psychology and Relationships

Use this tool to better prioritize your happiness, expert says: 'Think about time strategically'

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The first step of building a new financial budget is usually taking a detailed account of what you are spending. Recording where resources are being allocated is key to understanding what exactly you need to shift about your habits. 

The same can be said if you want to change how you prioritize your time as it pertains to personal goals, says Rainer Strack, senior partner emeritus at Boston Consulting Group.

Far too often, our priorities don't align with how we spend our hours and days. 

"Time is the only asset that we can't multiply," Strack tells CNBC Make It. "Time is limited here on Earth. It's a scarce resource, and therefore, you have to understand what you want to do with this kind of resource, concretely."

To help you see exactly where your time is going, Strack, Susanne Dyrchs, associate director at BCG, and Allison Bailey, senior partner and managing director at BCG, created a 2 x 2 matrix called the Strategic Life Portfolio. It mirrors BCG's growth-share matrix

'You have to think about time strategically'

This tool will show you how much of your life you are spending pursuing interests or activities that nourish you. 

Start by sketching out a matrix. On the Y axis write "importance" and on the X axis write "satisfaction."

Here, you'll chart 16 strategic life units which fall into six categories: relationships; body, mind, and spirituality; community and society; job, learning, and finances; interests and entertainment; and personal care.

Rate all 16 units from 0 to 10 based on how important they are to you and how much satisfaction they give you. This is how you'll know where to place them on your matrix.

Then, think about what share of your week you are actually spending pursuing each unit. For example, if you work out 10 hours a week and spend two hours a week with friends, the physical activity bubble should be larger than the friendship bubble. 

Once you see this visual representation of where your time is going, it'll be easier to decide where you want to make changes. 

"Let's say your activities of daily living are taking up too much time," Strack says. "Housework, commuting, other stuff like that. Then you have to think about where you could do things more efficiently? Where could you outsource? And can you use money to get some time back." 

For instance, if you are spending more time than you'd like doing laundry, it could be worth it to hire a laundry service. 

"You have to think about time more strategically," Strack says. "Usually we live from week to week and nothing changes. We have to be very concrete about what we do. This analysis helps a lot."

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