3 Tips for Playing Hooky (Without Getting Caught)

Our complete guide to playing hooky without stepping on any toes, or (worse) wasting your day off.

Ryan Morrisby Ryan MorrisGet The Job, Guides - 3 months ago

Despite what your boss might tell you, playing hooky can be essential to working in the modern world.

Like all things, it takes the right kind of balance to make sure you’re not going overboard and flat out ignoring your job duties and responsibilities.

But when done right, spending your day at the beach or the park rather than in the office can have a beneficial effect not only on your state of mind independent of your career, but even on your productivity once you return to work.

“I love to fly through the air on my days off from work on a rollercoaster (?) gigantic swing set sort of thing.”

But just how do you strike that balance?

And how do you go about asking off for work in the first place?

We’ve put together a guide to help you determine just that.

Contents

1. What Are The Benefits of Playing Hooky?

Playing hooky can get you in a lot of trouble if you do it all the time.

Not only can it get you fired if your boss finds out you took a day off under false pretenses, but taking too much time off work can cause you to lag behind.

If you spend a lot of time away from work during normal work hours, your lack of productivity can affect more than just your job performance — it can affect the performance of others you work with whose own jobs depend on you completing your responsibilities.

But only taking company-sanctioned vacation time and the occasional genuine sick day can be harmful too. You could find yourself getting rundown, caring less and less about the work you do while simultaneously sending you into a spiral of anxiety and stress.

For this reason, taking the occasional (preferably unplanned) day off from work on a day when you’re not sick can be enormously beneficial to your mental health, not to mention your productivity.

“Reading books on my off days is totally relaxing. I just crack open my box set of Animorphs and roll through ’em until my body eventually gets sucked into the pages Purple Rose of Cairo-style.”

It’s like hitting a reset button for your body as well as your mind, and to be effective, it’s important that it does come during normal working hours.

You’re trying to break yourself out of a cycle of work and stress in the least disruptive way possible, after all. You need time and space to do this, so it helps if anyone who might get in the way of this is actually at work themselves.

But there are two main things you want to be careful about as you do this. The first is how you get out of work for your day off in the first place — the second is how you spend the time off once you have it.

2. Playing Hooky From Work: Reasons to Get Out of Work

As anyone who has ever taken more than a single day off of work knows intimately, there is a right and a wrong way to ask for time off, as well as there being right or wrong reasons to take that time off in the first place.

Playing hooky is different than taking a sick day, after all (or at least it ought to be).

You shouldn’t be taking one for just the purpose of ignoring your work responsibilities — it should be taken because you specifically need to focus on yourself or your personal life.

The distinction between these things is fuzzy, but it’s important to navigate if you hope to get as much out of your days off as you can.

“What do I do on my days off? Glad you asked. First thing I do is eat six whole eggs. Then I weightlift for about nine hours while watching Hearthstone streams and blasting melodic death metal through my Google Home.”

Keep the following things in mind when you’re trying to get out of work for your day off:

  • If at all possible, you should be honest with your boss about why you’re taking the day off. Again, this isn’t necessarily a sick day (although for those suffering from mental health issues, there is a certain amount of bleedover here), and most managers get the importance of playing hooky once in a while when people are on the verge of burning out.
  • However, if you work for someone who you know for a fact would not give you the day off that you need based for burnout reasons alone, that becomes a situation wherein you might want to consider using a sick day. It’s a gamble, for sure, but when working for an unreasonable boss it’s the kind of gamble you’ll have to make for the sake of your emotional health.
  • Whenever you do take your day off, make sure you aren’t leaving anyone shorthanded or preventing someone else from doing their job. In addition to inconveniencing one of your coworkers unnecessarily, this can also bring additional stress to you later on in the form of unfinished tasks or angry coworkers.
  • If you’re the kind of person who plays hooky frequently, you really want to be careful when asking for yet another day off. It’s not a good look, and at a certain point, almost any manager will become angry enough at the behavior that they might consider firing you.
  • In short — before you go to play hooky on a given day, make sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row first, and also make sure that you have a goal in mind for that day (even if the goal is as simple as “try to destress”).

3. Playing Hooky Pt. 2: Rewarding Ways to Spend Time Off

Once you’ve cleared your day off with your higher up, it’s important after that that you figure out a rewarding way to spend your time.

This is perhaps the most subjective part — after all, a day inside binging the latest season of Chef of Thrones might be extremely rewarding and relaxing for one person, but for someone else, the same day could just make them feel lazy and antsy.

That’s where having a goal for the day becomes important:

What do you specifically want to accomplish that day? And if your goal is as simple as to try to get less stressed out, how do you plan on accomplishing this?

It takes a little bit of self-knowledge and analysis to accomplish, but the extra thinking involved is worth it for the pay-off.

“I don’t always use my days off from work to wander through the wealthiest parts of town, setting random fires as I go while using only a box of sparklers — but when I do, oh boy. Let me tell you. It really helps me relax and find my center, you know?”

Here are some possibly rewarding ways to spend your day playing hooky:

  • Go to a sports game or a movie.
  • Spend the day outside doing something you enjoy, like hiking, swimming, or fishing.
  • Spend it inside playing video games, streaming television, or just being lazy. As long as you know you won’t feel bad doing so, this can be a great way to destress.
  • Catch up on sleep.
  • Visit with your family or friends who you might not otherwise get to see. Go see your parents, or if you have kids, maybe let them play hooky too so you can spend the day together.
  • Work at a particular hobby of yours, and have some idea of what you’d like to accomplish with it during the time you’re doing so.

Wrapping Up:

That’s all for this one! Just keep in mind:

Playing hooky is a great thing to do until exactly the moment that it’s not anymore.

That threshold is different depending on the individual, but the most important thing to consider is your work’s reaction to you playing hooky.

If your coworkers seem sour about how much time you spend out of the office, or if your boss seems like they might be thinking about reprimanding or even firing you for your behavior, you really want to start thinking about if your days off are doing you the kind of good you think they are.

On the other hand, if your work is begrudging you small amounts of time off here or there, you might want to think about whether working at your job is worth the level of grief it brings you.

“Using my spare days to stand in a field with a broken phone and pretend to call Jenny from five feet away really is the definition of ‘self-care’ for me.”

At the end of the day, it’s up to you how much time you should try to take off from your work, and depends on how much you personally feel is necessary for you to feel good and healthy.

Best of luck! Here are some other links to help you on your way:

3 Big Tips for Writing a 140 Character Resume
7 Reasons You Have No Motivation to Work and How to Overcome Them
3 Tips to Making a Lateral Career Move

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