Beach - 
Listen To The Story


BRIAN WATT: It's a safe bet that a lot of traders have already left for the Labor Day weekend. And they're not alone, it's the last chance to get in some R&R before the season of fun is done. Millions of us will blast out of the office blocks today. We'll to try to squeeze relaxation out of every last second of the long weekend. And that's why many won't get any, says commentator Joe Robinson.

JOE ROBINSON: Lots of people take a big, fat killjoy on their vacations: OCP, Obsessive-Compulsive Productivity. That frantic fixation to make every minute of the day, even our play, productive.

We're so used to the 24/7 of our lives, we can't turn off the output button anymore. So we build up huge expectations for the vacation. And to-do lists, cramming the holiday with activities to make sure our precious time off is amazing. That's a set up though for disappointment.

Vacations aren't about output, they're about input. You can't measure that by the production yardstick. Trying to get results from a vacation is like trying to get a cat to bark. How do you tally the spray of an exploding waterfall? How do you produce quiet?

The irony is that input upgrades our output. McKinsey & Company asked managers where they got their best ideas and found it wasn't at the office. Instead, the inspiration came when people were disengaged, at play, on the golf course, out running.

The source of true productivity isn't nonstop output; it's a refreshed and energized mind.

Vacations require a different skill set than the job: leisure skills. We knew how to entertain ourselves as kids, but many of us lost the knack when we learned that play for its own sake didn't have a payoff. We learned that value was about rewards — like status, money, goodies — from other people.

Researchers say we had it right as kids; we played for play's sake. Increasing levels of performance don't produce happiness, say psychologists, since production is based on external approval, what other people think. That's gone by the next morning's to-do list.

But studies show the more active leisure lifestyle you have, the higher your life satisfaction. It also enhances positive mood, initiative and confidence.

And along the way you may discover something long forgotten: Recess rules.

WATT: Joe Robinson is a work-life coach and runs the company Work to Live.