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Since once in a blue moon I actually discover a decent rule for adulting, and since I know I have followers a few years younger than me who are just entering the workforce, I want to tell you about a very important phrase. 

“I won’t be available.”

Imagine you’re at work and your boss asks you to come in on Saturday. Saturday is usually your day off–coming in Saturdays is not an obligation to keep your job. Maybe you were going to watch a movie with a friend, or maybe you were just going to lie in bed and eat ice cream for eight hours, but either way you really, really don’t want to give up your day off.

If you consider yourself a millennial you’ve probably been raised to believe you need to justify not being constantly at work. And if you’re a gen-Z kid you’re likely getting the same toxic messages that we did. So in a situation like that, you might be inclined to do one of three things:

  1. Tell your boss you’d rather not give up your day off. Cave when they pressure you to come in anyway, since you’re not doing anything important.
  2. Tell your boss you’d rather not give up your day off. Over-apologize and worry that you looked bad/unprofessional.
  3. Lie and say you’ve got a doctor’s appointment or some other activity that feels like an adequate justification for not working.

The fact is, it doesn’t matter to your boss whether you’re having open heart surgery or watching anime in your underwear on Saturday. The only thing that affects them is the fact that you won’t be at work. So telling them why you won’t be at work only gives them reason to try and pressure you to come in anyway.

If you say “I won’t be available,” giving no further information, you’d be surprised how often that’s enough. Be polite and sympathetic in your tone, maybe even say “sorry, but I won’t be available.” But don’t make an excuse. If your boss is a professional individual, they’ll accept that as a ‘no’ and try to find someone else. 

But bosses aren’t always professional. Sometimes they’re whiny little tyrants. So, what if they pressure you further? The answer is–politely and sympathetically give them no further information.

“Are you sure you’re not available?” “Sorry, but yes.”

“Why won’t you be available?” “I have a prior commitment.” (Which you do, even if it’s only to yourself.)

“What’s your prior commitment?” “Sorry, but that’s kind of personal.”

“Can you reschedule it?” “I’m afraid not. Maybe someone else can come in?”

If you don’t give them anything to work with, they can’t pressure you into going beyond your obligations as an employee. And when they realize that, they’ll also realize they have to find someone else to come in and move on.


Just like with many other parts of life, learn to say ‘no’ to people. You are important. Don’t kill yourself for another person, esp. if they are your boss.

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