There’s no better adrenaline rush than the kind that happens after you cancel plans last-minute. What once felt like a weight on your shoulders, bearing down on you with every passing hour, has disappeared. Suddenly, your time is yours again. We get it — you made plans with someone and something suddenly just came up. Or maybe you’re tired and going outside feels like too much effort.
We here at Lifehacker HQ would never cancel plans—or come up with totally made-up reasons to get out of them—unless it felt necessary. If you’ve ever struggled to find the right excuse, below you’ll find a list of our go-to lines, ranked in order of difficulty (and, uh, who responded to me first).
Beginning with the least difficult:
#8 Blame it on your “hectic” schedule. “I think my go-to line in convincing them that it’ll be better is if we just hang out another time. ‘We can do something fun next week when everything is less crazy,’” Joel, our Senior Video Producer, offered as an example.
#7 Say you’re just feeling “off.” “I definitely tend to use some variation of ‘Ugh, I’ve felt exhausted for the past couple of days and think I’m coming down with something,” Meghan, our Offspring editor, told me. “‘Gotta stay in and go to bed early to fend it off, ya know.’”
#6 Or be more specific and say you’re having stomach problems. “No one wants to ask follow-ups and no one doubts me,” Virginia, our Managing Editor, said. “How long does one’s stomach hurt? It could be 10 minutes, it could be 10 years, no one knows,” Lisa, our Two Cents writer who also endorses this tactic, said.
#5 Blame it on a hangover. My general go-to: “‘Sorry, I physically cannot go out—I had such a long night yesterday.’” Most people understand and commiserate with you when you say you don’t want to even be in the presence of alcohol.
#4 Say it’s the kids’ fault. “I mean, they always need a nap or have a school project or whatever,” Beth, our Vitals editor, said over Slack. Nick, one of our staff writers and a new father, uses this same excuse. “‘I’m so sorry, I need to take care of the baby tonight.’ It works even when it’s false because it’s usually true!”
#3 Blame it on your mental health. “I have very bad anxiety problems and it often prevents me from doing things. But maybe, ALLEGEDLY, I have said I am having a bad anxiety day when I’m really not,” an anonymous source told me over Slack. “It lets me get out of plans while also making people feel bad for me lmao.”
#2 Keep it a mystery. “I usually just go with the vague yet concerning, ‘Hey, sorry, something urgent came up last-minute, can we try to reschedule?” Abu, our video producer, said. The only concern is that they might push further; if you’re in this situation, just keep it brief and tell them you’ll explain later (and have an excuse ready when you do).
#1 Or just be honest and say you don’t want to hang out. Maybe you’re not interested in being friends. (Here’s how to dump a friend the right way!) Or maybe you just don’t have time—that’s ok, too. Unless you committed weeks in advance or made it absolutely clear that you would not cancel, don’t feel obligated to go through with plans, particularly when you aren’t feeling up to it. You have the right to use your time as you wish. “I could be laid off any day now, Sheryl, I don’t have time to celebrate your goddamned birthday,” Abu suggested to me, rather coldly, over Slack. “Hahah jk.”
Were you kidding, Abu?