Manage yourself like Hercule Poirot

Do you work like Hercule Poirot? The higher the pressure on the case, the more determined the master detective is to announce that it is time to retreat to his room and let his little grey cells rest. He would sit down and meditate, while the others search for the perpetrator at the races, or go to bed early even if the prime minister is expecting a call about the capture of a kidnapper.

How many of us follow his example at work when our schedules or other plans take a sudden turn? Do you slow down when your mental pulse begins to race or do you allow yourself to be swept away by the current, grit your teeth and focus on making it out alive?


Take the following steps to better manage your work-related pressure and stress.

  • First step: Be aware of the abnormal intensity of your work or other stress factors.
  • Second step: Identify your options, for example, sources of your mental resources or ways to manage your usual stress factors.
  • Third step: Apply the right measures as appropriate, for example, the skill to slow down at crossroads.
  • Fourth step: Understand when the danger is over and you can return to your normal routine.
  • Fifth step: Monitor the cycle. To quote our master detective, when a lot is happening around you, there is no need to run yourself. If you can quiet down your mind, an idea will pop up eventually. When the missing piece is finally in place, you can rid yourself of the surrounding noise.

Often, the first step causes the first challenge, as it is not always easy to recognise changes in your energy and mental capacity. A simple trick is to ask yourself a couple of times during the day how you are doing at the moment and assess your well-being. You can do this in the morning before lunch or as you are leaving work, for example. Observing your condition regularly trains your mind to identify different physical states and accustoms you to pay attention to your well-being.

The second step, i.e. identifying your options, is usually much easier, because you already know what you should do. Therefore, it is important to focus repeatedly on recognising your physical needs and rely on your intuition. After assessing your personal fitness and well-being, you can move on to the third step and identify the healing measures needed. When you have repeated this routine often enough, you learn to recognise when the danger is over. In other words, you know your normal working pace and recognise when your mental pulse is within a healthy and effective range.

Sometimes, you do not have the power to make the final decision to resolve the situation. The employer has the right to supervise work. Do not hesitate to bring up your ideas and best practices with your supervisor to support the entire team.

The famous Belgian detective’s work ethic would benefit us all: By taking the time to listen to ourselves and make regular observations, we can avoid unbearable stress.

Susanna Paarlahti
Service Manager, Occupational Psychology


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