Forget the bucket list— ‘time buckets’ are the latest life planning trend

While most of us can conjure up a list of the to-do items on our bucket list, they often appear more as once-in-a-lifetime, hard to achieve events and goals that can be pushed to the back of your mind when life gets busy or tough—and where’s the fun in that?

Time buckets, on the other hand, help you break down your goals and wants in life while helping you get clear on what it is you actually want.

Essentially, time buckets are a tool to help plan what you want your life to look like at all stages.

The intervals of life, whether by each decade or other random grouping of years, will foster a sense of timeline that in turn helps you actually go after your life goals and dreams rather than pushing them to ‘some point’ in your life.

The easiest way to create your own time bucket is simply to draw a timeline from today until old age, divide it up by the grouping of years you feel most comfortable with, and fill in what you want your life to look like at each stage—effectively creating a roadmap for your life and your goals.

Sounds easy right? Well, it is—and it pays off big.

Here’s how using time buckets can actually help you get more out of life while actually enjoying the process along the way.

It breaks down your dreams into smaller tasks

Using the method of time buckets to map out your life helps you to see things in terms of your dreams and the time you have to accomplish those desires.

“This is different from a bucket list that a senior or person at midlife scribbles out when they begin to panic about their own mortality,” explains Lynell Ross,  psychology trained Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Certified Life Coach, and Founder of Zivadream, an education advocacy website dedicated to helping people improve their lives.

It helps plan each dream based on your current lifestyle or phase of life

According to Lynell, a time bucket is a road map you fill out listing important things you want to do in your lifetime.

For example, If you choose increments of five years at a time, you can add things in each category at the appropriate time such as go to college, get married, have two children, visit Africa, travel through Europe, buy a bigger house, move to your favorite city or spot in the country and grow your own vegetables… You get the idea. It still works for seniors, and gives you a realistic picture of how much time you have left to do more active things. 

It helps you get clear on what you actually want to do

“The beauty of using time buckets is to help you visualize things that you really want to do, places you want to see and people you want to spend time with,” explains Lynell.

“Most people just go through life choosing the next thing, or settling for what is in front of them. The problem with failing to plan is that life passes you by and before you know it, you don’t have the time or ability to do certain things.”

For example, it is easier and safer to go snow skiing at 25 than 75, ride a motorcycle or hike mountains in Europe when you are younger, rather than waiting until you retire. 

It cuts out any excuses to procrastinate

“Life is finite,” says Lynell. “While we don’t like to think about that fact, if we don’t, we wind up regretting the things we didn’t do. Planning and having dreams helps us fit those things into our daily or weekly lives as we go along.”

Think about it like this: the trips we take with the people we love, the volunteer work we do, and time spent doing what we love are the most meaningful, and unfortunately, too many of us miss out of these things because we are busy surviving day to day, with no vision of what could be or a bucket list that never really gets taken seriously.