KPD points

Running my own business continues to be a real learning experience for me. Everyday I learn different ways of doing things, or tackle new challenges that I’ve never even had to think about before – being my own IT manager for example has been a somewhat interesting experience!

However most of what I’m learning is ‘on the job’. What I’ve noticed I miss about commuting into London every day is allocated time to read, learn and reflect. I certainly don’t miss catching the 7.07am from Theale in the mornings but being on the train for two hours a day caused me to ringfence that time and use it productively. Now I’m working from home, I tend to get up and pretty much start working straight away. It took me a while to realise that I wasn’t getting through my resources in the same way. Books, blog posts, articles and items I’d favourited on Twitter were all languishing half finished.

So thinking back to what I did previously and also inspired by initiatives like ‘Find 15’ which Stephanie Dedhar has undertaken, I’ve decided to implement my own system of KPD points. They work in a similar (albeit less formal) way to CPD points. These are Kate’s Professional Development points. I get to choose how I acquire them and to be honest there’s no real rules about what I use them for. It could be industry knowledge, it might be copy writing skills. But just having a name for this activity gives me the impetus to take some time out of my day – whether that’s early morning, lunchtime or evening – to read or watch a video, learn and reflect. It also gives me a code to put on my timesheet (a self imposed record of my activity) so if I want to, I can see at the end of every week how much time I’ve spent on my own continuing professional development.

Since implementing this system (I use the term loosely) I’ve got through a work related library book, finished a Kindle book (The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, very good) caught up on some blogs and favourites, figured out some new things in WordPress and done a whole pile of research for a presentation I’m delivering at the end of this month. I wouldn’t say I’m spending two hours a day on it as I might have done on the train, but giving myself some structure has definitely helped. It’s almost like I’ve given myself permission to make sure that focusing on my own professional development is still important.

And that’s what we’re all up against, no matter what we do for a living. Taking time out to learn can be a challenge and one we can end up feeling guilty about as the emails sit unanswered in our inbox. But it should be time well spent that we’re investing in ultimately becoming more knowledgable and hopefully better at what we do.

Interested to hear your thoughts on how you fit in time to learn in a busy working day…if at all?!


About kategraham23

Start-up founder, writer, connector, librarian's daughter. Interested in learning, HR, technology, online, media, marketing, fashion and cricket. Not always in that order. The views expressed here are solely my own and do not reflect the thoughts and opinions of the company I work for currently, or those I've worked for in the past.
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10 Responses to KPD points

  1. Dave Havis says:

    I like the idea of KPDs. Do you give yourself rewards when you get a certain number? You should! I think making time to document or at least acknowledge this kind of self determined learning adds to its value. I have an online reading list that I pick at when I have time (and never get to the end of but that’s ok) and I try to share what I’ve learnt using social media (or even speaking to people in real life). I kind of trick myself into thinking that the reason I’m learning is so that I can share it with other people so I don’t feel so guilty, and it feels more like I’ve made a commitment to do it so that makes me more likely to find the time. I think one characteristic of the oft-discussed idea of a “learning culture” in an organisation is when you’re seen as the odd one out if you haven’t shared something you’ve learnt.


  2. kategraham23 says:

    That’s an interesting point Dave, that learning seems somehow more worthwhile or less self indulgent if you share it with others. It’s a shame though – we should feel like we can spend time learning whenever we need or want to! I don’t have a reward system in place but I’m getting real satisfaction for getting through my reading list (like you I don’t think I’ll ever get to the end of it) or just learning new things that help me to do my job better. I might save the rewards for when I have to do boring admin tasks instead πŸ™‚


  3. Bill says:

    I also love the idea of your timesheet – if somebody MADE you complete it, you’d hate it, but it sounds such a brilliant idea! Do you use anything clever to log ur activities or have any tips that I might use?



  4. kategraham23 says:

    Hi Bill, thanks for your comment πŸ™‚ I don’t use anything whizzy to keep my timesheet, just a fairly standard Word template I’m afraid. What I’ve done is to categorise my activities to make sure I acknowledge time spent responding to emails, doing admin etc because whilst seemingly unimportant compared with client work, they have to get done and take up my time so still need to be recorded. And now my KPD time is a category all of its own which has made learning more legitimate!


  5. kategraham23 says:

    Yeah! Let us know how you get on!


  6. Mike Collins says:

    I don’t know what I’d do without my 1 hour commute in to Manchester! It really is my reflection and catch up time and Twitter is my main tool I use for this. I sometimes might steal an episode of Games of Thrones but you’ve got to keep it varied haven’t you,

    Love KPD points, keep up the good work and wishing you every success as it does take discipline and commitment – it won’t belong before its just the way you do things

    Are KPD points a thing for life do you think or a short term motivator to get you going do you think?


  7. kategraham23 says:

    Thanks Mike, glad to hear you make good use of your commuting time every day like I used to. I think KPD points are going to be a way of life now, I hope so anyway. I saw a great speaker recently and he said to successfully make changes in our lives – whatever they might be – we have to be ‘persistently consistent’ i.e. keep persevering and keep trying with whatever it is until we achieve our goals. So I like to think I’ll be persistently consistent with my KPD points and it will just be how I learn in future. Watch this space…


  8. Kim George says:

    Hi Kate,

    I schedule 30-60 minutes first thing every morning to go through my work emails and then to catch up with Twitter (both my feed and my ever-increasing favourites), blogs and articles. I have to admit that emails have recently taken over most of those 60 minutes and so I feel a little detached from Twitter at the moment, but I’m striving to change that! I agree that just scheduling that time (in my Outlook calendar) and giving it a name forces me to devote that time to my personal/professional development – it’s often too easy to get carried away with the usual work commitments while there’s so much more to learn and share!


  9. Jeremy says:

    Hi Kate,

    I really liked your article and it has been an interesting read. Like others before I love the idea of KPD points and one I might need to adapt in the future.

    You won’t remember but we met once in Cirencester. It was my first day at e2train and you were meeting most of the staff from e2train for a curry and I tagged along.

    I see from your post that you are learning the ropes of an IT manager. I might be able to help here. I will be starting my own business in the next few months in IT Support & Consultancy. Perhaps we can help each other out?

    Keep up the blogging and hopefully speak soon.


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