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How do you claw back a little time from the grind?06-shirkers or overworkers-side

Words: Jo Clarke

Illustration: Paul Mcquay (

A new study by the UK National Work-Stress Network found Bristol people take more days on the sick than in any other English city. Across the country, Office for National Statistics reports suggest, 55% of people work 30 to 45 hours a week, and 19% work more than 45. These numbers, which are creeping upwards, only reflect people’s main daily grind – they don’t consider second jobs or unpaid commitments. If we spend most of our time working, how can we attain that mythical work-life balance? In an effort to waste a few minutes find out, we asked for your expert advice on creative and subversive skiving methods – here are our favourites:

I take semi-regular, slightly-too-long toilet breaks. When I get there, I just sit down for a bit, play Minesweeper, or read a book.

“Complaining about your teeth is a bit more inventive than the normal stomach bug excuse. You can then hypothesise an imaginary dentist appointment on your return to work.”

“If you start a small fire in the kitchen then you’re out of action for a good 30 minutes.”

“I used to work on customer services, which included retrieving baskets stolen from the store. I’d get my mates to take a basket and then call customer services and request a pick-up. I’d then go round theirs for a beer and a 30-minute session playing computer games. Did this once a week for about a year.”

“Filling out pointless surveys – like this one.”

I just hide in one of the corners, where no one can see me, and play about on my phone, write to-do lists or just breathe deeply and tell myself “you’ll be out of here soon…”.

I was hungover and couldn’t face work, but as I had pulled a few sickies I needed something new and innovative. I went through a list of illnesses but had used most of them before. So I called my supervisor and when he came on the phone I just blurted out, “I’ve got swollen balls!” No questions asked, just a “see you when you’re next in”.

I go down to the stock room to have a look for something that we need, then when I’m down there I take a 10-minute nap.

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