Today (9th Feb) is National Sickie Day. That’s the day that, statistically, the most Brits are likely to take (or should we say, fake?) a sick day. It’s grey outside, we can’t even remember Christmas anymore and now that Dry January has finished we’re all feeling the effects of the weekend’s celebrations.

Of course, no one would never advocate lying to your bosses (ahem) but Work the World has pulled together 10 stages of pulling a sickie, so all those calling in ‘sick’ know what they’re letting themselves in for when channelling their inner Ferris.

Stage 1: Decision (aka self-justification)

Waking up in your comfy bed, listening to the rain pouring against your bedroom window, you start to question your motivation for the day. After all, you’re a hard worker, you’ve done your time. It’s been ages since you’ve had a day off work and Nigel from accounts must have had at least 3 weeks off sick, the jammy git. You know what? You’ve earned a day off – you’re a star employee and you deserve some time for you. Plus, you probably wouldn’t be any use anyway, not with this hangover.

Stage 2: A sense of dread

Before you make that phone call, there are things you need to consider. It’s Monday… could that look dodgy to your boss? It’s a strong sign that you might have had a slightly heavier weekend than you should have. Doesn’t look like any of your mates have tagged you in pics from last night, so you could always claim you’ve been rough all weekend. Will HR buy that? This is the point where the nerves start kicking in, but sod it, your impending day of laziness and self-indulgence is worth the risk; time to get cracking on your story.

Stage 3: Amateur dramatics

Now this is the important bit – getting your story straight. What’s your sickness of choice going to be – have you been coughing? Better try to sound strained on the phone. Maybe you’ve been up all night with a fever, in which case you’re going to need some stats on thermometer readings ready to really seal the deal. Or, the age-old favourite of a dodgy stomach, in which case it’s worth settling on exactly what type of shellfish it was you ordered from the poor, scapegoated local Greek eatery.

Time to dust off those GCSE theatre studies skills, as you dial the number for work. Finding the right balance of sounding just ill enough to match your disease of choice is no easy feat. A few well-placed coughs will start things off perfectly, and the age-old trick of hanging upside down off the side of the bed while talking on the phone helps build up pressure in your head, making you sound even more pathetic and nasally. Perfect. Scatter in a few apologies and regrets and you’ll have this nailed.

You were awesome. Remind yourself to look up the local am dram society, you might have missed your theatrical calling.

Stage 4: Elation

They’ve bought it, you’re free to hang up, utterly elated that the suckers believed you. The hardest part is now over with. Enjoy yourself, punch the air, celebrate; you’ve earned it.

Stage 5: Decisions, Decisions

Now on to the good stuff – how are you going to spend your day? This sick day is a gift, use it wisely. Although what you choose to do with your time will very much depend on your current status. Hungover? Grab another hour’s sleep. Wanting to veg out? Get Netflix primed for a box-set binge. Still in bed with last night’s Tinder date? Well, we’ll leave that to your imagination.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure it involves being horizontal for as long as possible, whether that’s in bed, the sofa or a bath – you’ve earned this. Duvet, slippers and PJs optional.

Stage 6: Impending fear

Yup, that’s your tummy rumbling, and your fridge is looking empty. Now this is a dangerous position to be in. You don’t want to ruin your day of glory by starving yourself to death, but leaving the house poses the threat of discovery – the last thing you need is to bump into a colleague on their lunch break and risk giving the game away.

Here you have two choices. The clever amongst us will order a takeaway – we suggest a dirty pizza, treat yourself. If this is your chosen path, congratulations, you can move on to stage nine.

For those of you who choose to take on the challenge of stumbling to the nearest shop, we salute your bravery, but you have a tough time ahead. Dress accordingly in some kind of disastrous tracksuit (vomit stains can be added for good measure) and try to look as pale as you can. Remind yourself of your back story, ready to repeat it to anyone who might recognise you. You are now ready to step outside.

Stage 7: Paranoia

Keep your hood up and your head down. Don’t take too long browsing, this is no laughing matter. Is that Chantelle from sales? No, no you’re safe. Grab the Pringles and a few cans of beans and head for the tills as quickly as you can. Don’t make eye contact, don’t waste precious minutes. Head swiftly home.

Stage 8: Back to safety

Phew, you made it. You’re back in the bubble. That must have been hard, u ok hun? You definitely deserve some ‘you’ time after that ordeal. Get your jammies back on. In fact, you should probably consider a nap, you must be exhausted.

Stage 9: Decision time

We hate to interrupt your day of leisure, but it’s getting close to 5pm and you have a very important decision to make. Are you going to head back to the office tomorrow, sniffling into a tissue and perfecting your brave “I’m so busy, I just can’t afford to be sick” face? After all, you don’t want to raise suspicion or draw too much attention to your day off by taking another in immediate succession.

But then again, does that additional day make your sickness just a little more realistic? Seriously, who has flu for just one day? Plus, there’s still a whole second series of Narcos to get through.

Stage 10: Prepping for tomorrow

Well, that’s decided, you’re definitely taking the second day off. But you can make your morning dread (see stage two) so much easier by setting the scene with work today. Now’s the best time to drop an email, text or call to work explaining how you’re still feeling really rough. You’re desperately hoping you’ll be better for tomorrow, but even though you’ve been asleep all day and you just *cough cough* don’t think it’s likely you’ll be fully recovered.

Done. All chores for the day are complete and now you’re free to crack open a bottle of white, settled in for another day of idleness. You’ve earned this, champ, good for you.