For hassle-free off day

I need time to find myself.”

“My garage door is broken.”

These are just a few of the bizarre explanations that workers have given employers for needing a day off, according to a Robert Half International survey of executives. While unforeseen events will inevitably cause you to miss work from time to time, following are examples of what not to do when requesting a personal day

Bad medicine

Everyone needs time to recharge or to take care of personal or family health issues. These excuses, however, didn’t engender much sympathy —

• “I just got a new tattoo and need a few days to recover.”

• “My cat has hairballs.”

Pastime predicaments

Many professionals enjoy hobbies outside of work, but your leisure pursuits shouldn’t lead you to make last-minute requests for time off. Try to give your employer a little advance notice. Consider these examples —

• “I need three weeks off to travel Europe. Starting tomorrow.”

• “My partner and I need to practice for the square-dancing contest today.”

Employment-ending entreaty

Some excuses should be offered only if you have a letter of resignation.

• “I need a leave of absence to try another job. But if it doesn’t work out, I’d like to come back.”

• “I’ll be out this afternoon on job interviews.”

• “I’m taking a few days off to start my own business.”

When taking time off to tend to personal matters, skip the elaborate excuses and provide your manager with the information s/he truly needs: a quick update of your pending projects and how your most time-sensitive assignments will be handled while you’re gone. Here are some additional suggestions —

Give a clue

If you anticipate needing more than a few days off in the weeks or months ahead, notify your manager now. This will enable him/her to evaluate resource needs and line up temporary help.

Designate a point person

It’s wise to identify a trusted team mate or two who would be willing to serve as your backup and keep projects moving in your absence. When approaching these colleagues, be sure to mention that you will gladly reciprocate when they need assistance.

Use out-of-office functions

Let all of your co-workers, clients and customers know when you’re away by leaving the name and contact information of your backup, so critical e-mail or voice-mail messages aren’t left unanswered.

Finally, maintain a clean and orderly work space, and be sure your files are clearly marked. This will eliminate confusion by making it easy for your manager or co-workers to locate important items in your absence. It’s also smart to create a detailed list with instructions for performing crucial tasks that only you handle so assignments can be completed while you’re away. This invaluable how-to sheet will be far more helpful than any imaginative excuse you could possibly offer. — Agencies