15 Excuses to Leave Work Early and Look Professional (2023)

a picture of business person and excuses to leave work early

You want to leave work early? Don’t worry, it happens. We all reach a point where we need to take a break. We’ve compiled some of the best reasons to leave work early. By best reasons, we mean ones that your manager or boss will sometimes understand even appreciate. Before we dig in, understand that you might not need to go as far as you might think with your reason to leave work early.

In the modern workforce, we’re often connected with our jobs far beyond the working hours. And because of this cultural shift, it’s understandable that we don’t have strict working hours any longer. But if you don’t feel like coming clean on your reasoning, here are some good ways to deliver the message and head out so no one bats an eye.

15 Best Excuses To Leave Work Early And Why

Here are the very best excuses to leave work early and not have your boss or colleagues feel like you aren't committed to your work or job.

1. Not feeling well

Simply stating, I’m not feeling hot, is an okay excuse. There doesn’t need to be a long explanation as to why you aren’t feeling well. It can simply be a statement of not feeling well, want to go home. But if you are really being asked what is wrong, it's okay to say that you have a headache or that your stomach is feeling upset. These are both good reasons because you could have eaten something during the day that didn't sit well with you. Or if you have a headache, you won't be able to work well and may need to lay down for a while.

2. Need to run errands

Banks are still only open from 9 am to 5 pm. Meaning, if you need to go to the bank or even run general errands like returning a package, you’ll have to leave work early. They aren’t open on weekends and anytime after 5 pm. If you need to go into details, make sure you are giving an example of a hard closing time of 5 pm. That way, there is a clear line as to why you need to leave before the current time.

3. Feeling exhausted

Only in cases where you had an obvious long day and a streak of high performance you can absolutely tell your manager that you’d like to head home because you feel exhausted and need rest for the next day. Ensure that you only do this after a successful run of performance, though. As it could appear poorly if you state it without it being true.

4. Need to prepare for the next day

If you are having a significant amount of meetings the next day or some event planning on behalf of the company, it’s okay to leave early the day before, saying, “I’m heading home today because tomorrow is going to be long.”

5. Need to be available for a delivery

Deliveries often only happen up until 5 pm, meaning you may need to be home to sign or accept deliveries. Especially if you are in a city. This is a great excuse; everyone understands this scenario.

6. An animal in need of care

If you have a pet, everyone is okay with the fact that you might need to head home to take care of them. If, for some reason, the usual caretaker is not available, then mention that and head out! Simple as that.

7. Child in need of care

If you have a child, most colleagues understand that parenting has a schedule of its own. It’s okay to say that you want to head home because you need to take care of your child. Maybe they have a baseball game. Or a dance recital. These are all good reasons to leave.

8. Appointment with a doctor

Doctors are another profession that still operates with a 9 am - 5 pm schedule. So if you have a doctor's appointment, you’ll absolutely need to leave early for the appointment. Everyone will understand this.

9. Appointment with a medical professional

Any medical professional, like an eye exam, is a good reason to have to leave. They usually do not operate past 5 pm. Go ahead, tell your colleagues you need to leave because you have a chiropractic appointment, an eye exam, something medical-related.

10. Family arriving

You can say that you have out of town family arriving at your home, and you need to be there to let them in. Easy as that!

11. Going to work from home

Sometimes it's okay to say that you need a change of scenery. Saying that you will head home and continue working if your profession is digital is absolutely okay.

12. Want to go to the gym

Your health is important to your employer. Saying that you want to leave early so that you can go for a run will be acceptable. As long as you don’t do this too often, you should be fine. If you aren’t healthy, you aren’t happy. And if you aren’t happy, you won’t be able to do a great job.

13. Networking event later

If you are attending a networking or business event later in the evening, this is a great reason to head home before you have to go back to work. But be prepared actually to say what event you are going to. This can turn into a lie, and we don’t want to do that.

14. Car maintenance appointment

If you need to drop off your vehicle for maintenance, you’ll have to do it during business hours. This is a great excuse because you can also say that you wanted to get work done during the day before dropping the car off at, let's say, 4 pm. This shows commitment. But understand, you can’t use this excuse too much.

15. Significant other in need of assistance

If you are married or have a spouse, then it can sometimes be okay to say that they need your assistance at home with a few things, and you are going to leave. Be cautious not to use this too much, though. As it could make your significant other seem needy and not supportive of your professional life.

These are the best excuses to use. Other resources will tell you that you should embrace excuses that show some sense of emergency. But this feels a bit more intense to us and could potentially land you in hot water with your employer. It is better to stick to something that everyone can relate to and appreciate. For example, going to the gym is something that most employers will appreciate; your health is important to them, too.

Avoid saying something overly dramatic, which you’ll have to follow up with the next day and potentially longer. It could turn into a bundle of lies, and we don’t advise doing that. Additionally, we advise that you don't attempt to make excuses too frequently; it will appear as though you aren't committed to your job or the company and could penalize you going forward.

Try to put in a valiant effort in your daily or weekly tasks and be sure that your colleagues see the effort. Then, once it's accomplished, take your chance to direct your hours, and no one will look poorly upon this.

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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