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Control Freaks Burn Out Faster

April 1 2010 - Research from Tel Aviv and Haifa Universities presented to the Society for Consumer Psychology found that 'control freaks' - apparently high-performing multi-tasking individuals - tend to burn out faster than their peers. Using all their internal resources at once and concentrating intently on the immediate task they are less able to respond to unexpected challenges.

Danit Ein-Gar from the Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration explained:

"The general notion is that we all have a pool of resources available for different tasks. Stamina is like a muscle, but it's not an endless resource. Our new research shows how our personal, work-related resources can be measured and our on-the-job performance improved."

The authors suggest that individuals adopt the approach of marathon runners who start slowly but pace themselves, thereby maintaining stamina more effectively than sprinters who expend energy very rapidly.

The researchers found that when volunteers defining themselves as high in self-control went shopping for groceries they were far more impulsive than those who defined themselves as low in self-control. They made more spontaneous purchases at the checkout regardless of price and reported not having anticipated the effect of factors like having to wait in line.

In a second study one group of participants were informed they were about to perform two tasks. Others were given an second task without prior warning. Researchers suggest that those in the first group performed better because they had the opportunity to adopt a 'marathon mindset'.

Danit Ein-Gar said:

"It's the same in the workplace when the boss hands out a major assignment moments just before quitting time."

The study concluded that managers achieve better results when employees are forewarned of a particularly challenging workload.

Danit Ein-Gar commented:

"Our results can be applied across the board from managing a business to making sure we run our personal lives more smoothly....The world may be multi-tasking at a frenetic pace but in thinking like a marathon runner, people with high self-control won't mind other people passing them. Marathon runners know that the race is long, but the winner is the one who can finish the race at the end with power left over to keep running."

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