If the words “staying close to the bathroom” have made it into any of your “sick day” emails, you need this post.
I’ve been there.
Especially if you are a perfectionist, type A, overachiever; it’s agonizing to figure out how much detail to give your boss. If you ate at a new sushi place and ordered the sashimi, even though you knew you should have stuck to a California roll, do you include that in the backstory?
What if it’s a virus and your 1-year-old has it too, and you haven’t even bothered to put him in anything besides a diaper and a loosely-wrapped towel because…more laundry?
That last one was me a few years ago. I told my boss.
Now if I was ever playing hooky, forget it. The anxiety generated over coming up with a credible excuse ruined the day for me. Not even worth it. I’d be at the beach deep-breathing into a paper bag.
It’s no way to live.
My challenge for you: The next time you miss work, don’t share details.
Did the very idea send a little thrill up your spine? Like waiting in line for a rollercoaster?
WELL THAT’S CRAZY! How did we get like this?
Life With A Blob Monster
For starters, most office jobs have bled into boundary-free, constant-email-checking Blob Monsters in the last 10 years.
Think of your Blob Monster as a roommate who takes conference calls with a headset on all day and never does the dishes. His name is Flex Time.
Maybe he pays a decent amount in rent (read: salary) and every time you look at him you feel disgust about his lack of boundaries, and pride over how much rent he pays. Over time these feelings mix together into constant soul-crushing guilt. You feel guilty when you pay attention to the Blob Monster and ignore your family. You feel guilty when you hang out with your family and the Blob Monster wants you to “hop on a call.”
Work Without Boundaries
A study out of Virginia Tech actually proves that even if you don’t open your email at home, just KNOWING that you are expected to causes anxiety for both you and, if you’re married, your spouse.
“Our research exposes the reality: ‘flexible work boundaries’ often turn into ‘work without boundaries,’ compromising an employee’s and their family’s health and well-being,” said study author William Becker, Virginia Tech associate professor of management in the Pamplin College of Business.
“Employees today must navigate more complex boundaries between work and family than ever before,” said Becker. “Employer expectations during nonwork hours appear to increase this burden, as employees feel an obligation to shift roles throughout their nonwork time.”
Taking an explanation-free sick day is a small but powerful first step towards putting up boundaries.
How To Call Out Of Work
So what to say? Wellness expert and host of the Fill Your Cup First podcast, Aimee Hoch, suggests, “I’m not feeling well and will be out sick today.” That’s it. No explanation needed.
It’s a subtle reminder to yourself, even more than it is to your boss, that you are allowed to have a life outside of work.
If you’re getting your work done and doing it well, you deserve to enjoy some boundaries.
You deserve to try the sashimi.
Just don’t share any with your Blob Monster. He’s getting evicted.