These Are The Best Ways To Sneak Out Of Work Early

Where is the worst place you can possibly be at 4 p.m. on a Friday afternoon in the middle of summer? Your office, of course. Let’s be honest: It’s July, which means no one is really trying to work these days (especially not on Fridays). There are, of course, the lucky few whose cushy jobs grant them “Summer Fridays.” These obnoxiously blessed individuals get to leave the office early, while the rest of us are forced to stay strapped to our rolly chairs until closing time, envisioning the moment we can break free and desperately guzzle down a bottle of post-work rosé. But if your stingy employers don’t give you a Summer Friday, there is another option: Give yourself one. Sometimes the pull of freedom is too great, and it seems impossible to stay imprisoned in your office for an entire afternoon. In cases like these, it’s time to pull a summertime sneak-out.

Of course, sneaking out of the office early can be a daunting task. It may require complicated plotting, devious subterfuge, and conspiracies among coworkers. It takes a brave soul to risk the 3 p.m. exit, an individual who doesn’t fear the wrath of upper management. If you think you have what it takes to make a run for it, we wish you well on your journey. But before you hit the road, you may want to consult our roundup of 10 ways to sneak out of work early (without getting caught).*

Best of luck on your mission, valiant weekend warrior. May your Coronas be cold, your beach towels warm, and may your absence in the workplace go unnoticed.

* Refinery29 doesn’t actually promote sneaking out of work early.

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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Friday afternoon “doctor’s appointment” is a classic work evasion excuse. If you’re looking to start your weekend a little early, simply make up a foot disorder and claim that Friday afternoon was the only time your podiatrist could fit you in. It’s a foolproof plan, to which no one can object. Need to sneak out multiple weeks in a row? What do you know — your doctor said that this foot problem is chronic, which means a lot of follow-up appointments. But though the fake “doctor’s appointment” is foolproof, just make sure you don’t overuse it. You don’t want to become known as The Girl Who Cried Gyno Visits. If your boss starts to suspect you’re lying, then it’s going to be extra hard to get out of the office when you have a real appointment.
2 of 10
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
It’s been a long, soul-sucking work week, and you simply need to sneak out of the office to meet your friend for 4 p.m. happy hour. You can practically taste the margaritas, but how to escape? At 3:45 p.m. have your friend text you, claiming to have an “emergency situation.” Any crisis that needs immediate attention will do: “OMG, my husband just filed for divorce,” or “the FBI just showed up at my home office,” or “we just took our pet rabbit off life support.” Affect deep concern when you read the text, with an audible “On no.” Then, explain to your colleague that your friend needs you. Now. Though you would love to stay and finish that Excel spreadsheet, you simply have to meet your friend to help her through her crisis. With your alibi established, rush out of the office before anyone can ask too many questions. Then celebrate with your friend, over cocktails.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Can’t think of an early-exit excuse? Maybe you should try the “Bathroom-Break Fake-Out.” Spend all morning slowly hiding your personal items behind the plants next to the elevator. When you’ve sufficiently hidden all your stuff, take a “quick trip to the bathroom.” Then, when no one’s looking, make a break for the elevator. Just don’t forget to pick up the purse you hid behind the yucca. But what if your elevators are guarded by a nosy receptionist who might snitch? Hit the fire stairs instead, and rejoice as you rush down and out to freedom.
4 of 10
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Sometimes, the best way to sneak out of work is to pretend that you’re still there. Leave a few personal items behind to make it seem like you’re in the office (even though you’re halfway to your weekend Airbnb). These items could include a nearly full water bottle, an open notebook, or a cardigan thrown over the back of your office chair. Want to make it super authentic? Leave behind an old smartphone — no one would leave for the weekend without their phone. Make sure to reset your computer, so it doesn’t fall asleep while you’re gone. Keep an internet browser filled with work-related tabs open. Then, once the stage is set (and no one is paying attention), casually sneak out for good.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
When deciding how to plan your early-afternoon work-prison break, your “work wife” can be an invaluable asset. Conspire with your BFF at work, so she can cover for you if your boss comes sniffing around. Just make sure she’s armed with a supply of excuses to last the rest of the afternoon. Some good ones? “I think she’s in the bathroom,” or “You just missed her; she headed to a meeting” or “She was just here... I’m sure she’ll be back soon.” Just don’t take your BFF for granted, because covering for an afternoon sneak-out can be a lot of work. And be prepared to do the same, when she decides to jet early.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Another tactic for achieving premature weekend freedom is the fictional “coffee meeting.” Say you need to leave the office at 3 p.m. to have a Starbucks meeting with a potential client, vendor, or new recruit. What you’ll really be doing is applying sunscreen while taking the train to the Hamptons. On Monday, just pray no one asks you how that Friday afternoon coffee meeting went. If they do, be prepared to give a full download of what “went down at Starbucks on Friday.” Of course, “things didn’t work out” with that potential client/vendor/recruit, and you’re so annoyed they wasted your time (a.k.a. you’re so glad you managed to disappear three hours early).
7 of 10
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Quite suddenly, you feel very, very ill. You have no idea why, but it’s really bad. In fact, you just threw up in the work bathroom for 15 minutes. You don’t know what it is, but you’re really worried that it’s super contagious. If you pull the “surprise illness” excuse effectively, you’ll have your coworkers practically begging you to leave the office. No one wants to catch a stomach flu, because that would ruin their weekend. Little do they know, this “stomach flu” actually just made your weekend even better.
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8 of 10
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
So many of us have had a terrible apartment crisis at some point in our lives, which means no one will question you if you need to run out early to deal with one. The possibilities are endless here: a leak that is flooding your downstairs neighbor’s bathroom; a contractor who accidentally blew up your kitchen — no excuse is too far-fetched. Just make sure that if you use this method of trickery, you’re not inviting your coworkers over to your house anytime soon. It will look mighty suspicious if you tell your office mates that your kitchen burned down on Friday, and then host a dinner party for them on Monday.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
If you’re not the imaginative type, or simply can’t tell a white lie without totally cracking — then use the “personal problem” method. You don’t have to get specific here; in fact, the more vague, the better. No one ever questions a “personal problem,” because everyone assumes that if you’re uncomfortable telling people what it is, then that problem must be bad. Of course, in this case, the opposite is true. Your only personal problem is wanting to avoid rush-hour traffic on your way to the beach.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
This excuse is not for the faint of heart, or the superstitious. In fact, this should pretty much only be used as a last resort, when you’ve exhausted every other option on this list. When you’re picking whose fake funeral you want to attend, I recommend choosing a very distant relative, preferably one who already died years ago. That way, you’re not jinxing the life of any actual living human. Even better, just make up a fictional great aunt or a second cousin, and tell your lie without tempting God to punish you.
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