We spend 30+ hours a year to maintain our Pharmacist licenses and countless more hours to sharpen our clinical skills.

But there is virtually no attention given to our business, leadership, and life skills.

When asked about business acumen, the average pharmacist responds, “That’s outside my pay grade” or “I didn’t go to school for that.”

Even more common, “I don’t work off the clock, and I have no time for that.”

But what if you did have the time?

What if you found a way to maximize your downtime and use it intentionally?

Here’s one path to leveling up as a healthcare professional and leader, written by my fellow Corporate PharmD, Bryan Nguyen:

Putting Things Into Perspective

I am going to use this as a starting reference.

FIFTY MINUTES round trip. Five days a week. 52 weeks a year.

That adds up to 13,000 minutes, or 216.6 hours.

Therapeutics class: 50 minutes, five days a week, 16 weeks.

We can also add an additional 20 minutes per day to account for discussions. 5,600 minutes.

About a third of what you are spending per year sitting in traffic.

You could effectively replay your therapeutics lectures on repeat during your drive to keep up that clinical knowledge, should you ever want to diversify your CV.

Opportunity Costs

This research all started for me when I literally did the math.

This was my exact commute. 25 minutes one way.

I wasted my first three years just listening to terrible radio music that played the same songs over and over.

Some days, I would talk to my wife on the phone for the whole commute when we were able to; others, I just drove in silence and anger of the terrible drivers on the road.

To put this in value of dollars, typical starting salary for a retail pharmacist is anywhere from $50-60 per hour.

THAT IS A WHOPPING $10,830 that you’re leaving on the table.

This is how much YOU ARE WORTH for your time that you’re giving away to either your company, terrible radio music, or over-listened playlists on your phone.

I am here to challenge that.

Optimize your time

Time is the most valuable resource you have available to you.

Time is more valuable than money.

From one of the podcasts that I listen to – if you were to talk to a 90-year old multi-billionaire, he would trade all of his money and wealth to be the age you are now.

Hands down. If you learn how to make time work for you, you will succeed in whatever venture you put your effort towards.

Here’s How

Listen To Audio Books

The first audio book I listened to during my commute was How to Win Friends and Influence People.

My mom recommended this book to me.

I didn’t really think much of it until I was skimming Reddit and came across a team leader who gave a copy of this book to everyone on his team.

That night, I started an Audible account at $15 a month and got one audio book every month.

Yes, I would recommend this book.

This was a good starting point, especially if you’re on this path of self-development and self-help.

I moved into other great management/leadership books, but they can get boring if the voice is monotonous and the ideas are repetitive.

Audible has a great feature to sample a book before you purchase it, but if that’s the book that you want, then you’re kind of stuck.

After my string of self-help/management foray, I moved into finance and financial literacy.

If you’ve read Rich Dad, Poor Dad, I was trying to build my financial literacy.

I fell into a string of financial books that also got boring and super technical.

I’m talking to you, The Intelligent Investor.

You could take this in a different direction in fictional books.

Personally, I have not delved in.

There is definitely value added in here, though.

Do you have time to join a book club?

Do you have time to read said book and really take it in?

Here is a way to dedicate fifty minutes every day to take on a new hobby.

Listen To Podcasts

Currently, I am currently fixing a problem store that is 75 miles away from home.

I also have been listening to about three hours’ worth of financial podcasts every day.

What has this done for me?

I have exponentially expanded my financial literacy from barely understanding how to buy a stock share to being able to walk someone through running a backdoor Roth IRA.

I can even point out resources to make sure they are able to document it 100% correctly on their tax returns.

This has been over a course of six months.

And, I will be finishing up at this store in another two months.

Honestly, I am excited that I am able to dedicate this much time to listening to these podcasts.

There are over a hundred episodes that I still need to listen to, each over an hour long.

This works for me because this is something I am interested in developing.

I have made a conscious effort to be more intentional about improving myself and the rest of my life.

This framework may not work for you.

This entire article may bore you to tears.

Find what works for you and apply that to your life.

As a second side note, I am assuming you have Bluetooth in your car.

Ride A Bike

Say you’ve got a golden commute of 3 miles.

Listening to a podcast or an audiobook during your commute won’t move the needle all that much and this whole article has been meaningless to you.

Utilize your commute to your advantage.

Ride your bike and get some daily exercise.

Lulu lemon has these great crossover dress/athletic pants that fit well and look great.

They are the ABC Slim.

They go on sale for $80 sometimes.

I wish I was in a position to be able to utilize this optimization.

Not only does it provide you five days a week of exercise (weather permitted), but

1) it cuts down on the wear and tear of your vehicle

2) reduces your yearly expenses by reducing gas money/maintenance costs

3) you get fresh air

4) you don’t ever have to sit in traffic!

Develop Your Team Members

If you’re in a position of management, again, be intentional with your time!

I have had awesome conversations with people on my team about ownership, accountability, team building, future plans, further development.

The list goes on and on.

This is time that you can utilize to have meaningful and impactful conversations with your team!

If you are struggling to find coaching sessions with your team while in you’re in store, here is a chance to talk to your team while you’re on your own time and they are on company time.

Your mileage may vary if this is applicable to you depending on how strict your company is on using your own time.

Run Some Errands

I’ve utilized my commute to schedule appointments with doctors, accountants, mortgage brokers.

I’ve optimized this time to interview CPAs too!

Utilizing my iPhone’s “Hey Siri” function, I have called the Toyota dealership to see if they have any open appointments to bring my car in to get a same day oil change on my way home.

This may seem basic, but I think this needs to be here to just be 100% complete.

I even used this time to talk to The Corporate PharmD to become a part of this blog!

Call Family And Friends

I’ll leave this for last.

The whole point of this post is to be intentional with your time.

Make it your own and use this time for what matters.

I love my family.

I will always prioritize my family before anyone and anything else.

This is why I am on the path that I am on.

I want to spend my time with my wife, my (future) kids, my parents, my friends, my family.

I would gladly spend all 75 minutes of my commute talking on the phone with my wife.

She, however, is an introvert and needs time to wind down when she gets off of work.

And my energy would definitely be too much for her and overwhelm her.

What Commute Optimization Has Done For Me

The impact that this optimization has had on my life has been so extreme.

The first financial audiobook I listened to was The Millionaire Next Door.

It absolutely changed my life.

It changed my financial future.

This is how impactful optimizing your commute can be.

I went from thinking I was going to be working until I’m 65 to making plans to retire fifteen years earlier.

I will always continue to listen to podcasts from now on for the rest of my working career.

There are so many ideas out there, so much to learn, so much of myself to develop.

This is my way to continue lifelong learning.

This is my gasoline to fuel my growth mindset.

-Bryan Nguyen