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Create a Summer Bucket List to Make the Most of the Season

Two people kayaking with steep cliffs in the background.
Kuznetcov_Konstantin/Shutterstock

Have you ever reached the last day of summer, only to realize you squandered most of it? It’s all too easy to let the season slip away without doing the things you wanted to—but a summer bucket list can help.

You’re probably already familiar with the “bucket list” concept. It’s a list of things you plan to do, and you cross them off as you complete them. Some people make bucket lists for a trip, or for all the things they want to do in their lifetime. But a summer bucket list addresses the problem of feeling like the season is over before you got a chance to make the most of it.

Here’s how to make a summer bucket list that will maximize your time, and give you memories that will last for years to come.

Choose Your Format

First, pick the best format for your list. Oh, that’s right! This isn’t a metaphorical list; this is an actual list you’re going to fill up with summer fun and goals.

If you love writing on paper, buy a notebook or planner to keep your list. If you prefer to keep things digital, start a note on your phone or a Google doc. As you accomplish things on your bucket list, you’ll get the dopamine boost that comes from achievement—and having your list written down lets you see those accomplishments all in one place.

Keep It Realistic

Now, you can start writing down ideas for your list. However, try to be realistic about how easy or difficult these things are. Remember, you only have one season to get them done! You might want to spend a month in Europe, but if you haven’t even started planning yet, that might not be a realistic goal for your summer bucket list.

Rather than adding unrealistic items to your list, consider what might be a simpler version of it. For example, instead of a month in Europe, maybe you could spend a week at a closer vacation destination. Or, put things on your bucket list that bring you closer to that more challenging goal. Maybe “saving for a trip to Europe” should go on your bucket list for this summer so that you can go next year.

Your bucket list items don’t all have to be purely “fun” things, especially if they’re bringing you closer to a future goal.

Add Plans for Each Item

Once you’ve got a few things on your list, create a detailed plan for how to accomplish each one.

If one item is “do yoga once a week,” for example, you might need to research yoga studios in your area and find a class schedule that works for you—or sketch out a plan for a consistent schedule at home. Write down the steps you need to accomplish before an item can be crossed off your list. When you have a plan for each item on your list, it will help you achieve them.

Change Your List Anytime

Your bucket list isn’t a static document. Feel free to change it whenever you want, in any way you want. For example, if you start making a plan for an item but realize you’re not that committed to doing every step, take it off your list and replace it with something else.

It’s a good idea to rearrange your list periodically, too. Try listing things from “most important” to “least important.” This way, you can put your energy toward doing the things you value the most first.

Take the Pressure Off

Family blowing bubbles and relaxing in a field.
Lucky Business/Shutterstock

Making a summer bucket list doesn’t mean you have to put pressure on yourself to do it all. A good bucket list grows with time. So, don’t stress about accomplishing everything on your list this summer. Instead, focus on doing a few top-priority things.

Remember, not everything on your bucket list needs to be grandiose. While the desire to visit a new country is an admirable bucket list item, visiting a new neighborhood can be just as good.

Keep Yourself Accountable

Even though you shouldn’t pressure yourself too much, a bit of accountability will keep you moving forward with your bucket list. Share it online or with a friend. And share periodic updates to show your progress.

This gives you a support system to cheer you on while you tackle the more difficult things on your list.


A summer bucket list can keep those post-summer blues at bay and help you make the most of your time. Soon, you might find yourself making fall, winter, and spring bucket lists, too!

Is reading more on your bucket list? Check out how to build the perfect summer reading list.

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a Seattle-based writer and editor with a Master's in Writing Studies from Saint Joseph's University. Her work has appeared in publications like Racked, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and Rum Punch Press. She was awarded a 2017 Writing Between the Vines residency.  Read Full Bio »

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