No summer plans? Here are some ways you can still be productive

Illustration of a student volunteer working among younger children
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A lot of us have been met with a scary reality this summer: no summer plans. As a fellow Bear, I know what it’s like to feel the desire and expectation to take summer as an opportunity to spread yourself as thin as possible. But if your plans fell through, enjoy some of these other ways you can keep your mind, body and self feeling productive through these next few months!

Set a fitness goal for yourself

It’s not uncommon to have gained a few extra pounds or lost some of our muscle after being stuck inside for the last year. With the weather warming up and vaccine rollout, this summer is going to be the perfect opportunity to get back into our health habits. Try setting a summer-long goal, so that when the next school year comes around, you’ll have made it a habit. Make sure your goal follows the “SMART” acronym: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. This ensures that you don’t get bogged down halfway through! Fitness tracker apps or a journal can help you track your results. 


With numerous organizations still working remotely, there are new ways to get involved and help out your community. Volunteering your time to missions you’re passionate about can help you feel like the work you’re doing is meaningful and productive. It’s a sure way to combat those worries you might have about whether or not you’re doing enough. Try checking in with your local YWCA or animal shelters and take advantage of UC Berkeley resources that can get you in touch with places that need the extra helping hands!

“To-be-read” list for summer

With school being out, you might feel a desire to keep learning or get your brain exercising. A summer TBR or “to-be-read” list is great for this! From science fiction or educational books to whisk-me-away fantasy novels, setting a solid reading goal for yourself this summer will keep you feeling like your life is still on track. At the same time, this goal is one from which you can benefit and gain skills! Reading expands your horizons and even reading a simple science fiction thriller opens you up to new places, ideas and perspectives. My personal TBR for this summer is already full of Jane Austen rereads.

Learn a new trade

From languages to instruments, this summer is the perfect time for learning something new. The internet is full of how-to’s for you to find a hobby you’ve always been interested in and finally give it a go. I already have Duolingo downloaded on my phone with some hopes to improve whatever French I remember from high school.

Just relax

This might be an unpopular opinion, but relaxing and recharging can be just as productive as anything! Nine months out of the year, you’re on all systems go-go-go. If you’re finally met face-to-face with a summer that is demanding nothing from you, take it as a sign and a chance to recharge while you can. You deserve it! I know that I’m ready to spend a few extra hours in bed a day and have more time for self-care dates with me, myself and I.

As someone without any summer plans (career, academic or travel-wise), it’s important to me to still have some structure this summer so that I don’t lose myself in an endless cycle of Netflix, sleep and doing nothing. If you’re like me and your summer is looking pretty dry, consider some of these short-term goals that might help you maintain some self-discipline and feel productive.

Contact Marissa Boling at [email protected].