As a Project Management Professional, you know how to make plans. Plans are helpful for the successful implementation of almost anything. After you earn your certification, make a plan to help with your renewal. Three years after you write the PMP exam, you need to prove to the Project Management Institute that you have earned at least 60 Professional Development Units. You can then pay your renewal fee and maintain your certification for another three years.
How will you go about earning your certification renewal credits? If you just 'wing it', you may find that you come up short. You would have to be suspended or take expensive credit earning methods in order to prevent this undesired outcome. No, if you plan early enough, you can avoid suspension and expensive credit earning methods. Luckily the planning is not hard if you start right away.
Renewing your certification is a project so treat it as such. It is also an important project as you definitely want to successfully renew. You are likely the primary or solitary stakeholder. You are likely the project sponsor as well. You may have support from your company but it isn't important for our purposes. You need 60 PDU credits to renew. You can earn them in a variety of ways. You will evaluate the categories and pick some that work best for you. Your schedule is fixed: 3 years. That isn't really a lot of time and you don't want to miss the deadline for reasons already given.
In order to meet the requirement of having 60 PDU credits in 3 years, you should get started as soon as possible. Start planning on earning 2 to 3 credits each month. After 36 months, you will have between 72 and 108 credits. That is well above the requirement. By shooting for this number of credits per month, you are giving yourself some room. During certain months, like December or the summer time, you may not be able to earn any credits at all. No matter. You have spares. Even by earning 2 to 3 credits for 30 months, you will have a minimum of 60 credits, (the amount needed), up to 90 credits. You can only carry over 20 to the next cycle so there is no real value in earning more than 80 in 3 years except for your own personal development.
Since you know that you will be earning 2 to 3 Professional Development Credits each month, how will you do it? Start by calculating the number of months left before you must actually renew your certification. If you have 30 or more months to go, you are in luck. You can use the target amount and get the required total with relative ease. Don't waste too many more months, though. Obviously if you have fewer months to go, say 20 or less, you will need to earn more credits per month. Even with only 20 months before your renewal date, you will only need to earn 3 credits a month to make it. For some breathing room, you would likely target 3 to 4 in this case.
The new PDU rules state that each hour of activity earns 1 credit. There are exceptions for work as a project manager or as a volunteer for a non-profit organization. If you have the ability to earn credits in those categories, you can adjust your other credit earning activities as required. As a full time project manager, you will be able to earn up to 15 credits towards the 60 required. You will still need to earn 45 through other activities. That's barely more than 1 a month.
You must always earn at least 15 renewal credits through educational activities. This will be in the form of project management courses, texts, videos or other content delivery methods. With the new rules, podcasts and webinars are now accepted for certification renewal credit. There are many sites on the Internet that offer free podcasts. You will be able to easily find enough material for at least 1 hour of education, and 1 PDU credit, per month. That puts up to 36 credits in your file right away. Save evidence of each learning activity. Your own declaration is fine for podcasts. Keep the date and time of the activity along with the name and the web site address. The same applies for books that you read. Many good project management texts can be found at your library. Remember that podcasts, books and videos don't need to be about project management, any topic pertaining to project management is acceptible. For example, the 1 Minute Manager is fine as it applies to team building, vendor contracting and other project management processes.
You can also create project management content and earn Professional Development Units. For this, you can write articles for publications such as Practical PM Journal or for blog sites. Again, keep track of the details of the credit earning activity. By writing 1 article a month, you will earn another 36 renewal credits over the 3 year period. Remember, too, that credits can be earned for fractions of hours of activity. If you post on the Internet for 15 minutes, you get 0.25 renewal credits. This is a great way to earn some quick credits. A few posts a month will earn you an easy half credit. That's another 18 credits at the end of 3 years.
You should be able to see that by applying your efforts to the goal of earning certification renewal credits over the entire 3 year period, you will be able to exert effort in manageable amounts. Earning a couple of credits per month is only 2 hours of effort. At the end of the project, you will have enough to renew your certification. That is a successful project. Once finished, you can document your own efforts in a lessons learned type of article or posting. That will close the previous project and give you your first credits towards the next certification renewal project. It will become natural for you and you will be able to earn those valuable renewal credits for as long as you need to.