Here is a flow chart to help you decide:
But wait, you say, it’s not that simple. Right, it’s not.
You have too much going on at work for you to miss a day for something as inessential to capitalism as skiing. Your team at work is great, and could hypothetically keep things going, but you really need to be there. Especially now, in the middle of this big project or whatever thing you guys are working on. Because it’s due soon, or it’s overdue.
Let me ask you this: Imagine tonight you go out to eat at a new restaurant, and you wake up in the middle of the night having some major intestinal issues, like “coming out both ends” intestinal issues, and by 9 a.m. tomorrow, you can barely pick up your phone to call in sick, let alone stop vomiting long enough to speak to your boss.
In this hypothetical situation in which you’re excreting liquids rather violently through multiple orifices with no sign of it letting up before the work day is over, do you now “have too much going on at work to miss a day”? Do you “really need to be there” to work on “the big project”? Or are you cool running back and forth from the bathroom, and in between collapsing back into bed exhausted? And when you finally return to work the next day, do you find that to your surprise, things went just fine in your absence?
OK, now let’s look ahead in our work calendar a few weeks, and find a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday during which you have no meetings scheduled and no deadlines. Now pretend with me that you are going to have “major intestinal issues” that day, and proactively schedule yourself out of the office. Except by “major intestinal issues,” you mean skiing. Or mountain biking, or nordic skiing, or snowshoeing, or trail running, or whatever it is you’re into. Nature time.
You’re not going to take a sick day*—you’re going to take a vacation day, a single one, right in the middle of the week. You’re not going to buy any plane tickets, or go anywhere exotic, or even take a trip. You’re just going to go do something outside and it is going to be awesome. You can joke to someone on a ski lift that you told your boss you “had a case of powderrhea and couldn’t come into work today,” or “had an appointment to get your face shots.”
Let me tell you a little secret: Your local ski hill, or state park, or trail system is practically empty on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Everyone else is at work. This vacation day you’re taking will be very special because of this. You will have to share with almost no one.
You will also go skiing, because you spent a valuable vacation day to do so. It’s not a weekend day, which you sometimes waste because it’s a free day off. Remember that last Saturday when you thought you might go skiing, but instead you slept in, made a huge breakfast, and then started dabbling with that one house project that ended up requiring six trips to Home Depot and before you knew it the whole day was shot and you never ended up going skiing or mountain biking or whatever? That was bullshit. I mean, yes, you fixed the doorknob or the wainscotting or something like that, but you didn’t go skiing. That will not happen when you use a vacation day to go skiing.
Can’t take a whole day off? Try taking just a morning or an afternoon off. That’s three to five hours out of the office. You would take three to five hours off work to go to the dentist, wouldn’t you? Teeth are important and not something to neglect, but so are your skis and bicycle.
Remember that one Wednesday when you got to work, worked all day, then went home? You know, that one Wednesday. Oh, that’s right, they all kind of bleed together, don’t they?
Now, remember that one Wednesday you skipped work to go skiing?
[*You can take a sick day if you want to, but obviously this is a matter of personal ethics.]
More stories like this in my new book, Bears Don’t Care About Your Problems, out now.