How to Maximize Your Commute as a Physical Therapist

Nov 15, 2019
6 min read

Use your commute time wisely! Focus on three important areas: personal growth, professional growth, and social responsibilities.


Picture this: you’re driving down the highway on a Monday morning. Your coffee is nice and fresh, you got some good rest after a long weekend, "Party in the USA" is bumping through your speakers, and you’re ready to take on the week.

Then you think to yourself, how could I be utilizing my commute a little more efficiently? I mean, Miley is great and she gets me ready for the workweek, but isn’t there something more valuable I could be doing with my time? Fun fact, there is!

Make the most of your time on the road

While the majority of us spend our 10, 20, 40, or 60-minute commute listening to ads on the radio, our favorite playlists, or maybe Joe Rogan interviewing his most recent guest, there are some much more effective ways to optimize your commute.

I am going to quickly run through my top three strategies for arriving to work feeling fulfilled. These also help me to end my day on the right note. This way, when I get home I feel accomplished, ready to relax and able to focus on enjoying spending time with my loved ones.

The three categories of growth

Y’all ready to dive in? Good! Let’s first break this down into three categories: personal growth, professional growth, and social responsibilities.

First off, personal growth:

My favorite way to spend my 45-minute commute is listening to a podcast on something that is not only entertaining, but also helps me grow either as a clinician or a human. Recently I have been spending my morning commute with @BrandonatBP and @davidgreene24 of the BiggerPockets Podcast. While I won’t recommend specific podcasts for personal growth (that’s up for you to decide for yourself!), I would say find something outside of physical therapy that excites you. Google the top-rated podcasts in that field, and start listening! Since I have been interested in buying/renting out properties, BiggerPockets has been my go-to!

Listen to an audiobook from Audible. There are thousands upon thousands of books out there that people are reading and recommending every day. If you are like me, there is nothing that sounds worse at the end of the day than reading something educational . . . even if it is for self-growth. However, when I pull into the hospital rocking a nice inspirational book like David Goggins’ “Can’t Hurt Me,” I am always ready to start my day.

Next, let’s look at professional growth:

Again, podcasts are an easy go-to for professional growth in the field of physical therapy. Whether you are looking to learn more about the big names in our field by listening to @ducklegspodcast, explore some case scenarios with, or jump into the world of education with the HET podcast, the possibilities are endless for PT-related podcasts.

Outside of just consuming content, you can also play a much more active role in your professional growth! How many times have you wished you had time to reach out to someone but found it too late on a weeknight to do anything but slide into their DMs and get ignored?

Well, believe it or not, a lot of those entrepreneurs you see on Facebook are still working that 9-5 grind. If you’re commuting home, and they are commuting home, why not chat it up? I have had countless calls with people in the world of physical therapy during my drive to or from work because lots of people in our profession enjoy being productive with their otherwise dead time! If you find someone in a similar commute situation maybe even set up a scheduled talk time with them for goal recognition/accountability.

Finally, focus on social responsibilities

Finally, if you are anything like me, sometimes you forget to schedule that appointment or make that call that you should have during the workday. That’s all right though—you know why? Because you have a set period of time each day where you are doing literally nothing else . . . besides driving a 1,000 lbs machine perhaps a bit faster than is legally recommended ;).

As for social responsibilities, I cannot tell you how much better of a son/grandson/partner I have become by utilizing my commute home two to three times a week to call a loved one. Let’s be honest, you don’t call your parents as much as you should. Life gets busy and you might find yourself forgetting to call on a semi-regular basis. On top of that, your grandparents may still own a flip phone and think that the only way to interact is when you come to visit . . . give them a call and brighten their day! No, you don’t have to become the world’s best child and talk to them every day, but maybe once a week why not try out giving a friend or loved one a call just to catch up?

Last but not least, you can use your morning or evening commute to set up future appointments. While it is easy to say you’ll schedule your dentist appointment tomorrow at lunch, how many times have you forgotten to do that as you lean in a little closer to that chicken and rice bowl from Chipotle? Just give ‘em a call—it’s easier than ever now, especially with hands-free dialing, Siri, and Bluetooth!

The moral of this article is trying to optimize your otherwise dead time in the day. We all make the excuse of not having enough time to do specific things.

Next time you are saying, “man, I wish I had time to read the '4 Hour Workweek,’” realize that you just spent three minutes listening to a commercial on how to put one dime down on your next used car. Once you start looking at how much time you have in your day from your commute, you will realize a whole world of productivity can be opened up if you just invest in yourself daily.

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About Trace McClintock

As a new grad physical therapist, my main focus thus far has been on becoming the best outpatient orthopedic clinician I can. I am working my way through the MDT course sequence where I just finished MDT part C which I chose knowing that the majority of my patient population within the VA was largely patients with chronic low back and cervical spine pain.

Outside of clinic work, I enjoy working on the \ two podcasts I co-host one being The Whiskey Docs Podcast and the other being The Ducklegs. Both of them help break through some of the monotony of general clinic work. I also work on a couple of side hustles and a personal blog that you can follow by adding me on Facebook. Growing up in a military family led to my great appreciation for working with our veteran population. Hopefully anyone interested finds the courage to apply as I look forward to working with the best and brightest in our field in the years to come!