So by now you’ve read my blog post titled, “How to avoid working while giving off the impression that you’re working.” If you haven’t, I suggest you check it out here.
But you might be saying to yourself, “Well that’s some great advice if I actually want to sit through a full day of work at the office, but what if I just can’t stand being at work? How do I leave early without having to take paid time off or sick time?”
I’m glad you asked because I’ve got that covered too. I’ve used all of these throughout my career. Just don’t be an idiot and overuse them. The best situation is when you’re constantly getting a new boss so you can reuse these plays without fear of being caught. I’ve now had four different bosses in 22 months at my current job.
1). You left your car in a parking spot that turns into a tow zone at 4pm: During my second week at this current job, I was sitting at my desk around 3:30 waiting for the day to end when all of the sudden panic set in. I never moved my car off a street that turns into a tow zone at 4pm (due to traffic coming into the city for the Giants games). If I didn’t make it home in 30 minutes, I’d be looking at a minimum of $350 in towing fees. I ran over to my boss, told him what was up, and he said, “Go take care of it. See you tomorrow.” Forty-five seconds later as I was in the elevator, I realized I had actually moved my car earlier that morning. It didn’t matter…I had inadvertently created a great excuse to leave work. I’ve used that two more times since that day.
2). The maintenance guy is doing some work in your apartment and things have gone missing before when he was there: As soon as you tell your boss that your maintenance guy is a potential criminal, you’ll be immediately excused from work so you can go protect your possessions while he fixes up your apartment. No questions asked. And this is one you can reuse sparingly even with the same boss. Washer/dryer isn’t working…roof is leaking…rat infestation…plenty of different reasons your maintenance guy could be making multiple calls to your apartment.
3). There’s an important package being delivered to your apartment that you have to sign for: This one is weaker than the first two, but in a pinch it can work. If you can get your boss to understand exactly why it’s so important, even better. I’ve tried this one before, but I don’t suggest using it: “My mom sent an Easter package and if I don’t get the Cadbury Mini-Eggs in the fridge right away, they won’t be the perfect amount of cold when I try to eat them later.”
4). You have to pick up your brother/girlfriend/cousin at the airport: For some reason, picking someone up from the airport works well, even though everyone knows that person is perfectly capable of taking a cab or public transportation up to the city. When I first moved to San Francisco, I used this one every other week, and my boss just assumed that all of my relatives were coming to visit me in my new city. Just don’t say you have to go pick up your friend. Family members and significant others work; friends for some reason do not.
5). Find out your boss’s interests and work off of them: I’ve had a boss who was a big time skier. All I ever had to do during the winter is tell him on a Friday morning that I was leaving early that afternoon to drive up to Tahoe. He was perfectly fine with it because he understands how awful it is to leave for Tahoe after a full day of work. He was even a little jealous and would tell me fun skiing stories whenever I told him I was taking off early. I’ve also had bosses who were huge Boston sports fans. Sometimes before I could even ask, he’d beat me to the punch by asking if I was heading home early to catch the Celtics playoff game or the Patriots Monday night game. Absolutely I’m planning to leave early for that. I’ve never had a woman boss, but I bet I would have gone with, “I’m leaving early to see the new Sex And the City Movie,” if it would have gotten me out early.