Episode Number 28Christopher S. Penn Schedules Everything

Chris Penn wears many hats. He’s Vice President of Marketing Technology at SHIFT Communications, a digital PR agency, a co-founder of PodCamp with Chris Brogan, a co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee podcast with John Wall, a professor of Internet Marketing and Advanced Social Media at the University of San Francisco online. On top of all of that he was DJ’s boss at one point. As such, it was inevitable that Chris stopped by the Work Talk Show.

Show Notes

As a blogger, speaker, marketing VP, podcast host, and teacher, Christopher S. Penn knows how to keep busy. But how does he get it all done? The answer is simple — he schedules everything. Literally, everything.

For starters, he uses the BANT framework of Budget Authority Need Timeframe to evaluate and prioritize what's on his professional plate, sorting the important from the urgent. He then blocks things out on a calendar (just a basic Apple iCal like Julien), even things that aren't meetings. He does this to target his own focus and deter outside interruptions.

So what does Penn's day look like? He gets up at 5:40 AM and spends from 6-7:00 AM on research time, checking RSS feeds via Feedly as well as social networks like Google+ and Twitter. From 7:00-8:30 he blogs for the company and schedules social media updates. 8:30-9:00 is reserved for inbox clearing — if something has a timeframe, it goes on his calendar; if not it languishes. Around nine he walks around the office and checks in on what's going on, especially critical new business development. After that, he works through his CRM pipeline. He engineers the beginning of his day to be productive from the get-go so that by the time most people get started at 9:30 he's already accomplished a lot.

As far as personal time vs. work time, Penn draws these lines pretty clearly by saying that work falls exclusivley between 6 AM and 4 PM. He religiously avoids work bleeding over into his personal time, including social media. He used to go to the length of leaving his laptop and devices in the car after work. Now he mostly works to leave his devices on "airplane" mode after hours. When he does need to spend more time on work or personal, he "treats life like Legos" and moves pieces around as needed.

Like previous guests Seth Godin and Craig Jarrow we spent some time talking about the email inbox. Penn cautioned that with technology, we live in a world where distraction is the norm, noting a favorite expression of Chris Brogan that "the inbox is the perfect delivery system for other peoples' priorities into your inbox." Penn stays centered through daily meditation and encourages others to control their mind first before worrying about technology and tools. He even shared some of his favorites from his teacher Stephen K. Hayes (meditation one and meditation two).

For shout-outs and shameless plugs, Nick mentioned he and DJ's recent appearance on Jason Konopinski's podcast Riffing on Writing, while DJ paid the shout-out forward by praising Penn as a podcasting mentor. Chris invited us all to learn more about the teachings and mediations of Hayes as well as SHIFT and Marketing Over Coffee.

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