March 13, 2014

I’ve covered a lot of research on how to make your life better but many people struggle with implementing changes because it seems like a major undertaking. It doesn’t have to be.

You can make strides in 5 fundamental areas by just sending 5 emails.

HAPPINESS

Every morning send a friend, family member or co-worker an email to say thanks for something.

Might sound silly but it’s actually excellent advice on how to make your life better.

There’s tons and tons and tons of research showing that over time, this alone – one silly email a day – can make you happier.

Via Harvard professor Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage:

(More on increasing happiness here.)

JOB

At the end of the week, send your boss an email and sum up what you’ve accomplished.

They probably have no idea what you’re doing with your time. They’re busy. They have their own problems.

For your boss, this let’s them know what you’ve been up to without having to ask and saves them from wondering and worrying. They’ll appreciate it and probably come to rely on it.

For you, it’s proactive and shows off your efforts, which Stanford professor Jeffrey Pfeffer says is the key to success in any organization:

(More on improving your work life here.)

GROWTH

Once a week email a potential mentor.

Doesn’t have to be related to your job. Who do you admire that you could learn from?

As I’ve blogged about before, mentors are key to success.

Via The Genius in All of Us: New Insights into Genetics, Talent, and IQ:

This is one of those things everyone seems to know but nobody does anything about.

It’s the age of the internet, folks. If you have Google and half an ounce of resourcefulness it’s not that hard to find almost anyone’s email address. If they have a website, their email is probably listed on it.

What do you write? Try Adam’s method or Tim’s method or Ramit’s method.

(More on the power of mentors here.)

FRIENDSHIP

Email a good friend and make plans.

What does research say keeps friendships alive? Staying in touch every 2 weeks.

Got 14 friends? Then you need to be emailing somebody every day.

And what should you email them about? Make plans to get together.

Research shows the best use of electronic communication is to facilitate face-to-face interaction:

(More on improving friendships here.)

CAREER

Send an email to someone you know (but don’t know very well) and check in.

These “weak ties” are the primary source of future career opportunities.

From Charles Duhigg’s excellent book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business:

“But I don’t know what to say.” Do any little thing that benefits them, not you. Try Adam Rifkin’s 5 minute favor.

Or just send them a link they might find useful.

Still stuck? Okay, send them the link to the post you’re reading right now.

If this has helped you with how to make your life better it can probably help them too. ;)

(More on how to network effectively here.)

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This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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