How to Make a Midday Office Getaway

Unless you're self-employed or the governor of South Carolina, it's hard to disappear from work—especially in the middle of the day. This is rather unfortunate since most American workers are already overburdened. According to the Center for American Progress, 86 percent of men and 67 percent of women work more than 40 hours a week. The International Labour Organization claims Americans spend 260 more hours a year at the office than the British, and a whopping 499 more hours than the French. However, a midday slip-away isn't easy to pull off. It requires mastering the art of deceit—not to mention some good old-fashioned lying. Herewith, three somewhat expert options on how to blow off the afternoon without getting caught by your boss or jealous colleagues.

Option 1 - Think Like a Magician: The most successful magicians are simply masters of distraction. Taylor Hughes, a member of Hollywood's most exclusive sorcery club, the Magic Castle, says that anyone can be cleverly deceptive for his or her own occupational benefit. For the best result, he suggests using misdirection. "If they're busy focusing on other things, they won't be concerned about what you're doing," he says. Hughes recommends planting a rumor around lunchtime that HR is coming to inspect everybody's computer files. If that doesn't work, he says, sabotage the copy machine.

Option 2 - Get High-Tech: Skype isn't just a cheap way to make phone calls with your computer—it's a way of spending the afternoon at P.F. Chang's. Frank M. Ahearn, a privacy consultant and co-author of How to Disappear, believes it's also a successful tool for fooling clever managers. Set up a Skype conversation from your office computer to your smartphone, he says, and you can spy on your office. If a manager wanders by your desk, call her business line to lure her away. If that doesn't work, Ahearn suggests, "have a buddy chime in on your Skype and claim he's a client—and that you ran out to get a file."

Option 3 - Leave a Mess: Messiness implies activity, or even an emergency. "Spill coffee all over the desk and floor and leave a note that you went to get a mop or the janitor," Ahearn suggests. No one's likely to go looking for you; nothing makes people scatter like the possibility of helping a co-worker. For female employees hellbent on getting out of Dodge, Ahearn recommends leaving out a box of tampons. "It implies something is happening," he says.

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