Day 44: Why You Should Play Hooky (And How to Keep From Getting Caught!)

Hooky hooky – play truant from work or school; “The boy often plays hooky”  source: The Free Dictionary


Ferris Bueller was right, we all need a break every now and then.

Whether we’re catching up on needed rest, recharging our batteries with some alone time, or sneaking off to enjoy a Bueller-ish day of fun-filled activities, sometimes we’ve gotta blow off work.

But lots of us have a hard time asking for a day off. We feel weak, or perhaps ungrateful, or maybe we’re just scared we’ll lose our jobs, if we say we need a mental health day. So, sometimes, the best policy might be to lie. In other words, play hooky.

Now for the morally pure among you, you might be thinking, I shouldn’t lie to my boss. You think it’s wrong. Well, so is not taking time for yourself! And as someone who has managed employees, there’s one thing I know – happy employees are better employees. If you’re run-down, over-worked, and running on empty, you’re a detriment to your company, not an asset.

So, sometimes you NEED to take a day for you.

The first thing you have to do is work up the confidence to call in to work to tell your boss that you won’t be in today.


Remind yourself why you’re an awesome employee and how you are totally justified in taking a day for yourself. (This only works, of course, if you ARE a good employee. If you’re known at work as Lazy Larry or Crazy Carrie, maybe you should consider buckling down at your job. There’s lots of people looking for work, ya’ know.) But if you are a good employee, try not to let guilt eat away at you.

You’re not alone, most of us have played hooky at one time or another.

Second, make sure that the company won’t fall apart without you. Make sure you’re not blowing off an important deadline or making someone else’s job miserable just because you didn’t want to get out of bed. Ideally, you should play hooky only on days you’re not really needed, or during a week you know you can catch up later.

Now, I’m not a fan of lying, but part of playing hooky is to lie. A little white lie, not a big whopper, like your dog ate your car keys. Identify the reasons you’d like off. If you can’t tell your boss the truth, simply find a similar, but worthy explanation for your time off.

If you’re feeling blue over a relationship gone sour, tell them you’ve got a horrible belly ache … just a few inches south of the real source of your real pain.

If you’re simply worn out, tell your boss you’re exhausted and that you think you’ve come down with something. Heck, you could stretch this hooky session to two days, if you play your cards right.

If you’re drunk and hungover, well, “food poisoning” always works as an excuse. Close enough to the truth.


Now, the trick in playing hooky is to not get busted. Nothing is worse than calling into work and then getting spotted by someone from work in a place you aren’t supposed to be … like a dance club. The best way not to get caught is, of course, to stay home. If you say you’re not feeling well, stay home, relax. Nobody will be the wiser.

If you plan to venture out, try not to avoid co-workers or people who might rat you out. Travel out of town if you have to. Or find a place you could reasonably explain away if you are caught. For instance, if you get caught dining out, you can easily say you were out of food at home or didn’t feel up to cooking. Of course, if you’ve got a table lined with evidence of a drinking binge, or you’re dining with friends, you might have a hard time passing that off.

One other thing I learned from Ferris Bueller, is that if you’re bagging off work to go to a sporting event, you might want to wear a hat and shades, just in case you wind up on TV.

The only sure way not to get caught, of course, is not to lie in the first place.

A lot of jobs allow for mental health days. Simply tell your boss you need a day off – you have to take care of some thing (even if one of those things is you). If you’re a good performer at work, your boss will likely understand.


Lastly, ask yourself why you’re playing hooky?

Do you hate your job?

Would you be happier doing something else?

Are you not managing your time well?

Do you not have enough time for you?

Are you stressed out?

Perhaps you can use the day off for some introspection. Consider ways to take action on some of the reasons you needed a day off so badly.

Or, of course, you could just spend the day vegging out in front of the TV watching The King of Queens.

Question: Have you ever played hooky? Ever get busted? Tell us you best hooky story in the comments!


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David Wright is a ghostwriter and blogs about fatherhood. And he would never play hooky from his current employers.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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