One of the ideas I mentioned in my presentation on Comprehensive Professional Development was to set up some type of tracking system. It’s important to write down goals for time and money to devote to professional development, and to keep track of how you’re doing towards those goals. I keep thinking that I need to write an app specific to that task (and maybe I will yet), but the key is simplicity. Word doc, blog, Excel spreadsheet, old fashioned paper – whatever fits the way you work is truly good enough for this particular task.
The image below is of a spreadsheet that I took 10 minutes to set up. Not fancy, you might want a different column or two, but it works. I had several requests for the template (no need to reinvent this particular wheel) and I’m glad to share it.
Remember that no one but you need ever see this (much like a food journal), but you might want to show it to a potential employer at some point. Yes, they might see that you just learned something that they think you should have known years ago, but they’ll also see that you’re methodical, managing your career, and working towards goals.
My mantra has been if it matters, measure it. Logging stuff takes time, but it is worth doing. I can’t prove that with a study, just some hard won experience. There are two “tricks” that I’ve found helpful:
- Put professional development time on the calendar
- Log your time when you do it
Professional development should be a positive experience, a sense of moving forward. If you perceive it as a burden, you’re – in my view – doing it wrong, doing it too often, or both.