There’s no better time than summer to relax. The skies are blue, the temperatures are warm and obligations don’t seem quite as important. But if you’re itching for something to do, why not turn your summer into a productive one? 

From catching up on your reading to crossing an item off your bucket list, there’s plenty you can do to make the most of the season. 

1. Catch Up On Reading

Summer is a great time to sit outdoors in the shade and catch up on a good book. Unsure where to start? Bill Gates, world-renowned billionaire and founder of Microsoft, offers a yearly summer reading list with recommendations.

Books recommended by Bill Gates include:

If you’re looking for some light summer reading — i.e., a book where you don’t have to think — consider a funny pick like Bossypants by Tina Fey or a Confederacy of Duncesby John Kennedy Toole.

2. Get Into Shape

Cold temperatures make it hard to get outside and stay active. But the summer’s warm weather is ideal for getting into shape. Use the next couple of months to exercise and achieve the toned body you’ve been dreaming of.

Some physical activities you can do outside include:

  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Running
  • Biking

When winter hits, you’ll be more motivated to stay active, even if it means hitting the treadmill for thirty minutes a day or signing up for a gym membership. 

3. Prepare For School

If you plan to head back to school in the fall, prepare by applying for scholarships, learning more about financial aid and researching courses. The earlier you start, the more likely you’ll be able to cover all of your expenses.

The most common types of financial aid include:

  • Federal Loans
  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Parent Plus Loan
  • Veteran Benefits

Most schools also offer private scholarships and aid resources you can apply for directly.

4. Conquer Your Fears

We all have something we’re afraid of. Maybe it’s tight spaces, spiders, snakes or clowns? According to research, more than 25% of Americans fear public speaking. This summer, choose one fear that’s holding you back. Then, create a plan for how you can conquer that fear.

For example, say you’re deathly afraid of snakes. Maybe you want to go hiking, but your fear is keeping you from discovering a new hobby. To overcome your fear of snakes, learn as much about them as possible. Find out which ones are in your area and if any are poisonous. Or go to a local zoo and ask the keepers to tell you more about the snakes on exhibit.

5. Find a New Hobby

With the blue skies and warm temps, summer is the best time to get outside and try new activities. Plus, you might discover a new passion.

Some new hobbies to try in summer include:

  • Scuba Diving
  • Archery
  • Rock Climbing 
  • Parachuting

If you find something you love to do, figure out how to keep it up in winter. If you gained a newfound love for rock climbing, look for an indoor rock gym in your area. New members are always welcome. If you picked up archery, look for an indoor range.

6. Fulfill Your Bucket List

What are your biggest aspirations? Research shows 69% of people have a list of things they’d like to do in life — a bucket list. Of those, 83% say travel is at the top of the list, followed by achieving a professional goal and volunteering for a good cause. 

Life is short, so use the summer months to cross one item off your to-do list. If you want to travel, buy those plane tickets and start planning your getaway. If you want to achieve a promotion in your career, work on a project idea you can present to upper management. And if you want to do some good, find a local charity with a mission you can stand for.

You’ve already spent a week at the beach — now what? Why not make your summer more productive by trying one of the six ideas above. Create a new workout schedule and achieve the body of your dreams. Prepare to head back to school and start applying for scholarships. Or find a new hobby that will keep you busy once winter rolls around.