CPR for your mind

Produced by DALL-E

It’s a quiet week at work, here in the perineum between Christmas and New Year. So I thought I’d explain my approach to clever, lazy leadership.

Why “clever, lazy leadership”?

Well, people that are clever and lazy make the best leaders. We don’t micro-manage, we avoid busy-work, we focus on priorities, we don’t avoid difficult decisions and we’re always looking for a lower-stress way to get shit done. Various generals and CEOs have expressed this better than me.

Clever Lazy Matrix Clever Lazy Matrix

I’m constantly experimenting with tools and techniques to make my life easier. The problem is that there’s always a new tool. When you start playing with the tools, you often end up needing a workaround to integrate it into your processes. Or, worse, you have to cultivate a new habit, and that can be a pain. Or, worst of all, the people you work with use old-fashioned methods that you have to interface with somehow (looking at you, spreadsheets).

CPR for your mind

What I find helpful is to be very clear about what my clever-lazy tech is for. It’s usually for one or more of these things.


I see or hear something I want to keep - either for future reference or to act on.


I need to do something. It could be as simple as finding the right home for something I captured earlier. Or it could be transforming one thing into something else e.g. turning a thought into an email or a graphic, or data into a report.


Over time, I capture a lot. I don’t want to lose it. I want to be able to connect it to other related things in a way that surfaces when I need it, without having to trawl through my inbox, calendar, variety of SaaS dashboards or a crazy filing system.

With all of these, I keep an eye peeled for anything that can be automated. I’m noticing more and more opportunities to do this since the arrival of generative AI. So much so, I thought of adding an A to the CPR functions and trying to turn it into CRAP. But automation can happen during capturing, processing or retrieval, so it didn’t make sense, even though I found it amusing.

PKM, GTD et al

You might see some similarities to the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology, or the broader productivity field of Personal Knowledge Management (PKM), and you’d be right. I’ve been neck-deep in this shit for years. I’ve experimented broadly and tied my brain in knots on several occasions.

These days, I’m happy with “my way” but still like to tinker. I think I’ve acquired a useful perspective on the space, having gone deep down the rabbit hole.

Why this is important for leaders

Let’s face it, knowledge work is changing fast. Leaders that don’t start adopting “clever-lazy” technologies are unlikely to be around in a few years. So I’ll be explaining some of the things I’ve found that work, and some of the pitfalls to watch out for.

CPR for your mind
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CPR for your mind