We’ve all done it before. Maybe it’s been a long time since you faked sweaty palms and a fever past your mom, but playing hooky can feel just as good in adulthood. Actually, it feels a little better.
“What!?” you exclaim. Responsible employees never play hooky from work. Well, surveys from CareerBuilder suggest otherwise. In 2008 and 2012 their surveys found that one third of workers played hooky. But before you start faking that cough for your boss, keep in mind that 18 percent of employers fired employees for faking an illness.
The truth of the matter is taking an impromptu personal day can be good for business, and many employers already know this. The ONE Thing that bosses want most is a productive, profitable business. The employees that play hooky every once in a while are actually supporting that initiative.
The Importance of Having a Day to Yourself
Taking vacations is critical for helping employees avoid burnout, but playing hooky isn’t a regular vacation day. It’s a day just for yourself. It’s the quintessential “me time”. Kids (if you have any) are in school most of the day, the spouse (if you have one) is at work or running errands. It’s just you, peace and quiet.
Having a little time to yourself is just as important as taking a vacation with the family. In our data driven age our minds are on overdrive constantly processing information and making decisions. Social media and smart phones now make it difficult to shake others even when they aren’t physically around. Anytime others are involved we have more things to consider with each decision, and we often have to compromise on what we really want.
When it’s you and you alone there’s a sense of freedom that’s impossible to achieve when others are around. There’s no need to impress or worry about how you are being perceived. There’s less distractions and noise. This is fantastic for your own personal well being as well as your job performance.
Years of research has found that when people think of strategies alone they came up with more ideas compared to brainstorming in a group. If you’ve got a problem that’s been nagging you at work you may just figure out the solution on your hooky day. There’s also evidence that when you’re on your own you can work more efficiently. Alone time can even help improve your concentration.
Most importantly you can focus on yourself. Me time gives you the opportunity to truly evaluate how happy you are in your life. It allows you the time and attention needed to dig deep into what is fulfilling you and what is falling short. There’s no pressure to be “on” so you can really relax and reflect.
Playing Hooky the Right Way
Playing hooky can go disastrously wrong, which is why we are offering a few helpful tips on how to do it right.
- The truth is always the best option if you need a day to yourself. Just be up front with your boss and tell them you are mentally exhausted and close to the burnout zone. The CareerBuilder 2008 survey noted that 65 percent of employers thought a mental health day was legitimate reason for staying home from work.
- Don’t do it on a day when something major is due or there’s an important meeting scheduled.
- Don’t play hooky if it’s going to put additional burden on co-workers.
- Have a good reason for playing hooky. Simply not wanting to go to work isn’t a good enough reason to skip a day. Reserve a hooky day for times when you are actually burned out, have an important errand to run, are facing another responsibility like taking care of a parent or you’re beginning to feel sickness come on and want to head it off by resting up.
- Be prepared to hit the ground running on the next workday to make up for taking a day off for yourself.
- Don’t play hooky often. Restrict it to just one or two days a year at most.
Remember, playing hooky is about staying at the top of your game, not slacking off. Work the system instead of abusing it and you’ll be in a happier place that makes you much more productive. Just think of how much the kids got done in one day in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Enough said.