Mattia Pelizzari

10 Ways To Squeeze The Most Out Of Summer When You Work A 9-To-5

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OK, so maybe we're no longer Zac Efron in "High School Musical 2" in the last day of high school (you know, watching the clock tick while whisper-chanting "summer, summer, summer!"). Well, at least we try not to let our co-workers see our best Troy Bolton impression as the clock strikes 5 pm at the office...

Either way, gone are the days of caps and gowns when the beginning of June released us from the grips of reality and into a three-month escape into sun, sand and flip-flops.

We are now firmly planted in adulthood and responsibilities, since most of our offices (annoyingly) operate year-round and summertime is more likely to mean suffering from "arctic office syndrome" than throwing away your alarm clock until September.

Fear not! There is a way to remain a productive member of society while still reliving the thrill of your youthful freedom.

As an adult, summer can tend to feel like a childish luxury, but with the following tips, you'll be able to take advantage of every last sun-soaked bit of it:

1. Treat yourself to some new summer duds.

I tend to remember the last day of school as a magical holiday sent from above. After scouring our desks clean and returning our books, it was burgers and fries and then piling into a minivan headed for the mall.

Maybe you won't be snagging a ripped denim mini this time, but it helps mark the change of seasons if you pick up that new coral dress and those adorable wedges you've had your eye on since February.

Bonus: You are a gainfully employed adult, so you have money to spend on these summer staples. It won't take mowing your entire block's lawns just to get it!

2. Join a summer league.

If you were anything like me, summer meant tying up your cleats and heading to softball practice on the daily. OK, my main contribution to the team was bringing the orange slices, but I still got a killer tan! Just because we're grown up, it doesn't mean the fun has to stop. Lace up those sneakers and get to the diamond for some kickball or 16-inch softball.

If you're lucky enough to be near a coastline, beach volleyball is calling your name. It's also a great way to meet new people.

Another grownup perk: These games tend to be accompanied by refreshing adult beverages. So, still pack those orange slices but toss one into a brew as your team goes for the win.

3. Hit up an outdoor happy hour.

One of the many beautiful things about summer is how long it stays light out. The sun doesn't go down until about 8pm on these glorious days. Don't waste it.

Gather up your summer-loving co-workers and head to your nearest watering hole. Everyone seems to be a little bit happier when the sun is out, and that translates to some killer happy hour deals. Summertime is also a great excuse to dine al fresco.

The very definition of summer should be the ability to enjoy a sparkling beverage in the sunshine. Every sip is just a little bit sweeter in that golden hour. You'll also get an opportunity to catch up with your pals beyond texting and Gchatting all day. Enjoy this actual "FaceTime!"

4. Experiment with some fresh new recipes.

Maybe you can't enjoy picnic lunches all summer, but you can hit up Pinterest and find some fun recipes with what's in season. It's no secret that summer is prime berry time. Stop by the farmer's market and score some fresh produce for smoothies and salads that will make you the envy of the office lunch room all season long.

If you're lucky enough to be able to escape the office when the clock strikes noon, take your green goddess sandwich outdoors and catch some free Vitamin D while you nosh.

5. Plan your weekends.

Every Friday marks the beginning of a mini-summer vacay. No matter where you are, there is bound to be something going on to celebrate the season. Perhaps there's a food festival or free outdoor concert. Just make sure you do your research during the week, so when the time comes, you're not sitting around wondering what to do with this beautiful day.

Don't get me wrong, though. Leave time to relax and simply enjoy the day because an afternoon basking poolside in the sunlight is just as valid a summer day as riding every roller coaster at the amusement park twice. You still have opportunities to summer like a co-ed, even if you do have to report to work on Monday morning.

6. Try out a new fitness routine.

This is not about getting a "beach body." It's about enjoying the weather and the outdoors when you're stuck inside for the majority of the day. Once again, the extended hours of light in the summer are on our side. You can soak up the early sun and pound the pavement with an early morning jaunt before the 9-to-5 grind. Or you can pack your workout clothes and jet to an outdoor bootcamp at your local park after work.

There is something about an outdoor sweat session that feels like you should be getting double credit for your workout. Once you're done, you can head to the pool to cool down from the sweltering temperatures, or you could even turn your time in the waves into a workout. The possibilities are endless, and that workout tan is calling your name.

7. Finally get around to your spring cleaning.

Let's face it, more often than not, May comes to an end and your garage is no more sparkling than it was in January. You can skip your workout this day and get your cardio in by finally clearing out deflated basketballs, roller skates with one functioning wheel and any other recreational toys that haven't seen the light of day since Bush was in office.

There's also a good chance you can come across some hidden gems that might earn you some pocket change with a garage sale. If you don't wan't to go through the hassle of haggling over the price of a "Beauty and the Beast" VHS with a 3-year-old, you can donate it all to a Goodwill or Salvation Army store near you. Good deeds and a clean sweep? That's a win-win.

8. Actually plan a vacation.

This doesn't have to be a two-week Bahamian getaway. Take whatever time you can get, and decide which place will be relaxing and exciting for you. Road trips are great for an extended weekend, and you can rock out to the new Justin Timberlake jam the whole way (you know what song I'm talking about; it's probably been stuck in your head at least once today).

Round up the fam or your best pals and just enjoy the fact that you're not stuck in a cubicle. Any day you don't have to blow dry your hair or hurriedly apply winged eyeliner is a good one.

9. Indulge in America's favorite pastime.

Baseball is in full swing, and there is a loaded stadium dog with your name on it. Whether you're able to check out the pro team in your city or your town is home to a some single-A ball, eating (and drinking) carbs while watching others physically exert themselves is not a bad way to spend three hours.

It's also a super public and safe place to meet that cutie you've been messaging with on Bumble. Hello, summer loving!

10. Check out a summer blockbuster.

The summer months are notorious for big movie openings. There is something for everybody and free air conditioning! Sometimes you just need to take two hours to check out the rom-com starring whichever British hottie is in the midst of his American takeover (I'm looking at you, Sam Claflin).

Or you can take your movie viewing outdoors and check out a multitude of outdoor screenings that take place in cities across the country. Ditch the dinner table for an evening picnic accompanied by "Minions."

This is by no means an exhaustive list of summer activities, but it is a good start to help you get out of that "Why do I have to be at work when the sun is shining?!" rut.

It's true that our summer days are no longer spent laying on the beach until the sun goes down and the bonfires turn up, but that doesn't mean we're excluded from summer entirely.

Let's take back the season and enjoy it with an umbrella-topped drink in hand.