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As most nine-to-fivers know, finding an excuse to sneak out of the office early takes just as much skill as landing a job in the first place.If you aren’t one of the lucky few with a job that offers “summer Fridays” or personal leave days, then your best bet for skipping out early is coming up with a host of solid, no-questions-asked excuses to leave work early.
Here are the best excuses sure to get you out of your cubicle and under the sun—or back into bed. May you ignore a guilty conscience, send convincing emails, and still ha ve your job the following day.
10 best excuses to leave work early
1) Surprise illness
What you say: “Hey boss, I (or my kid, dog, girlfriend) am experiencing a fit of projectile vomiting and other unpleasant things. I have to leave early today.”
Acting like you just magically caught the flu is one of the oldest excuses in the book, though it’s not as convincing if you use it too often. But if you use this excuse sparingly around fever season it just might work in your favor. You could even blame it on the take-out from the sketchy restaurant you ate at the night before. Of course, if you’re going to use the sudden vomit excuse to grab a drink, going to the bar down the street from the office might not be the best idea. Better not to run the risk of your boss seeing you taking shots after saying your kid has the flu.
2) Doctor’s appointment
What you say: “I have an appointment at 3pm and will have to leave work early today.”
Since there so many different types of medical appointments you could make, this excuse could get you out of work most often—at the cost of your coworkers thinking you’ve got quite a few health issues. This excuse is also an easy way to show up to work late or leave for an hour or two in the middle of the day. Unless your job requires a signed note, no one should question your personal health issues.
3) Uncomfortable bathroom issues
What you say: “This is a bit awkward, but I am having some uncomfortable bathroom issues and I won’t be able to stay in the office for the remainder of the day.”
Any talk of uncontrollable bowel movements causing you to neglect your work is a one-way ticket out the door. Just hope that karma doesn’t bite you in the butt for lying to your boss about having issues in the bathroom. It’s best to use this one sparingly.
4) A vague personal problem
What you say: “I have few personal issues that I need to take care of today that require me to leave early. Thank you for understanding.”
If you can’t think of any other excuse worth lying about, tell your boss that you have a personal problem that needs to be handled ASAP. The more information you withhold about your “problem,” the more your coworkers will assume it’s too uncomfortable to talk about and leave you alone.
5) Your house was broken into
What you say: “I just got a call from the police and it seems my house was broken into. I am going to need to leave work early to take care of this.”
Everyone has experienced a break-in or some other unpredictable security issues at some point in their life, which is why this excuse is a realistic one to break away from work early. However, this may require a detailed recovery story when you return the next day.
If you don’t feel comfortable using robbery as an excuse, the possibilities are endless for home disaster are endless. Say your kitchen is flooded from a broken pipe or a tree branch fell through the roof. The bigger the incident, the more successful the excuse. Just make sure to keep it believable.
6) Required family obligation
What you say: “My (friend, mother-in-law, sibling) just landed at the airport and I have to pick them up because they are unable to pay for a cab.”
In this case, you need to make your excuse sound like an ultimatum, or at least like you have to do this one thing or your personal life will suffer greatly. If your boss isn’t usually the sympathetic type, then you could promise to make up for time lost later.
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7) The end-of-day meeting
What you say: “I am heading over to the coffee shop for a meeting with (a client, coworker, vendor) and it might be a while.”
Going to “grab coffee or lunch” with a potential client or vendor and building a professional relationship with them is technically already part of your job, so fabricating the time you spend with them can’t be so bad, right? Say you need to leave the office at 3pm for the meeting, and be prepared to have a full synopsis of why it went so late.
8) Sudden death
What you say: “I was just informed that my (great uncle, dog, pet guinea pig, childhood friend) passed away from (a drug overdose, heart attack, old age). I’m afraid I’ll have to leave early today.”
This excuse is for the skilled liars who don’t believe in karma. If you aren’t one of these rare unfeeling people, please proceed with caution. Saying your father or best friend died could backfire later. Use a person like your great uncle or fourth cousin or your elderly neighbor—the more far-fetched the better.
9) Emergency text message
What you say: “I just received an alarming text message and I have to leave work early. I’m so sorry and I will explain later!”
It’s a Friday afternoon and you have to catch your flight to enjoy your holiday weekend, but you can’t afford to use up another leisure day. The perfect solution is to have a friend text you something alarming like “OMG, I just got in a car crash and have to go to ICU,” or “I am filing for divorce,” so you can show some immediate proof and rush to make your flight.
10) Just be honest
What you say: “Hey boss, I’m not focusing well today. I feel it will be beneficial for my work to leave an hour early in order clear my mind and finish up some tasks outside the office so that I’ll have a healthy mindset tomorrow.”
Honesty is always a good policy. Your boss will most likely respect you more for your communication. Taking a personal leave to clear your head can be beneficial for your work ethic, but time theft and lying could put your job at risk. It’s always best to take a step back and decide if you really need to make up an excuse that could hurt you later.
Unless it’s a cheap happy hour. Those are very important.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.