Pain-free CPD

I've just been reviewing some of my participants’ end of programme CPD records: reading what they have learned and – more importantly – how they’ve used their new found knowledge and skills both personally and professionally. I’m always amazed at the sheer range of learning opportunities that have arisen – both planned and unplanned – and the different things that people take away from their learning experiences.

I’m aware, however, that producing a CPD record is not always the easiest thing to do: reflecting on your learning isn’t something that comes naturally to most of us. I can recall many occasions where I’ve been sitting at my keyboard, fingers poised, wondering what on earth to write. And – let’s be honest – it’s not often top of anyone’s “to-do” list. What with work, studying, family demands and – if you’re very lucky – a bit of a social life, CPD can easily be put on the back burner. This is understandable, but it does come with a health warning: leave it for too long and you’ll find that the end of the programme has arrived and you have nothing written in your CPD record.

But it’s not all doom and gloom: there are some simple things you can do to keep your CPD records up to date without spending hours on it.

Here are my top three tips to get you started and help you keep going and turn CPD from “Confusion, Procrastination, Despair” to “Contemplated, Planned, Done”!

1.     CPD can be fun (yes, really!)

Opportunities to learn come in lots of different forms – it’s not all sitting for hours reading a book you don’t understand and aren’t enjoying then having to write about it. Think about how you like to do things and how you could make the most of these approaches to build your knowledge and skills. Watching TV programmes like The Apprentice and Undercover Boss are great for observing how people behave in teams, or when they’re leading others, or finding out how things are done in other companies. Films can also be a source of learning – check out Made In Dagenham which dramatises the fight for equal pay in the UK in the 60s. If you’re into social media, then sites like LinkedIn and Twitter can be a great way to keep up to date with the latest thinking and research. Free smart phone apps such as the Employment Law Cloud are useful for bite-sized legal updates too.

2.     Kill two birds with one stone

It’s often easier to spot CPD opportunities when the activity is formal or planned, such as attending a workshop or doing a work placement, but so much of our learning is gained informally. Anything you do at work (such as attending a team meeting, having a conversation with a colleague, peer coaching, reading about the latest industry news) or outside of work (evening classes, going to networking events, reading a newspaper) can generate valid learning. There aren’t really any restrictions on what can count as CPD – whenever you do something, ask yourself whether you’ve learnt something from it. If the answer is “yes” then put it in your CPD record!

3.     Small doses

Tempting as it may be to leave your CPD record to the very end of the programme and hope that nobody notices, try to reflect on your learning regularly: little and often is a good motto here. If you can set aside 15 minutes at the end of each week to sit down on your own and jot down a few lines to summarise what you’ve done and what you’ve learned during the week, your CPD record will grow regularly. Every few weeks, read through your whole record and see if you’ve put anything else into practice since you wrote your entries – you may be surprised to see how much you’ve applied.

Hopefully this will give you a little food for thought but I’d love to know what YOUR tips are for successful CPD records.

For more ideas on why CPD is important and what you can do for yours, check out the video below:

So what are your plans for CPD? What ideas do you have? What do you find works best? Let us know, comment below....

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  • I reallyy enjoyed reading this, I am one of those people who really struggle to think and put into words, what I have learnt and how I have put learning into practise.  I enjoyed reading this blog and it has given me some great tips 

  • Great simple blog. I have not had to track CPD in a diary before formally so this has some great tips on it.

    • Great to hear that you found it useful Bryan. Have you got any thoughts on how you will record the CPD you do. People do it in different ways and I'm interested in what ideas there are out there to help others.

      Thanks again




  • Until this moment I've been doing CPD unconsciously turning thirst for learning new things into a lifestyle. But I never reflected properly on what I have learned. So now, I guess, filling in the CPD record will be a CPD activity by itself.

  • Spotting CPD opportunities within my workplace when I'm in a team or project meeting and having discussions with colleagues. There are so many times that we all share knowledge, tips and good practice with each other but I never think to record any of this as CPD evidence.

    • That's a great point Christine. So many powerful conversations, often not planned, bring about much CPD - with internal colleagues and external networks too. I love the informal conversations that take place, for example, on Twitter for that very same reason.

      How do you record your CPD evidence? I'm interested.

      One technique that's worked well for me is to drop a little email to myself. Just a quick note on what I did and my brief reflections. I then tuck these away in a dedicated folder so that when it comes to reflecting on, acting on or planning development, I've got a reference point. Similarly, if I do need to create a CPD record like what is required on a CIPD programme, I've got some information tucked away.

      I've found this has worked well for members of my team in the past too. It was a popular tip that I gave people in my team to jot down, on the fly, supporting information for their performance review discussions. 

      I'm interested in how you record your CPD Christine. Any thoughts?

      • I really like the idea of sending yourself emails especially given how often I am in my inbox. I noticed if I email myself from my work phone, the message comes up 'Note to Self' on my laptop.

        Thank you for sharing,

        • Great to hear you've found that useful. i think I've moved on a little since sharing that even though it wasn't long ago....

          Check this one on using a tool called 'Slack' for your CPD. You might like this too.

          Slack: A tool for your CPD?
          Here's a cool way of using team collaboration tool on your own for your Continuous Professional Development (CPD) - #LOVECPD
      • Hi I make notes on my one to one supervision documents where I can record successes & challenges and personal development. I use these supervision documents to keep a track for updating my cpd log and performance appraisal.
  • Great tips! This makes my CPD seem less a chore and more manageable as it can fit into my everyday life, I can share these tips with my colleagues as we always feel pressed for time. Thank you.

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