Making The Best Out Of Your Downtime


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So…it happened. Last Monday (16th March), the Prime Minister announced a Restriction Movement Order (RMO) to all Malaysians as a bid to contain the Covid-19. So, starting from 18th March until 31st March, we will be under the restriction.

Except for those who serve in essential services and healthcare, most of us will be experiencing this “downtime”. 14 days is a long time, especially if we have to restrict our movement only to essential places and remains mostly at home.


How Long is The Downtime?

Officially, the RMO period is 14 days but I think if the situation does not improve, the duration may be prolonged or a total lockdown is possible. We don’t know anything yet and I don’t want to speculate and spark unnecessary panic. For this post sake, let just settle on 14 days as the downtime period.

Well, 14 days is just equivalent to a school or university semester break– What’s the big deal? Well, it’s quite a big deal. For starter, as a working adult, 14 days of leave is almost unheard of unless you deliberately use your annual leave in a single takeout. I have been working for 3 years now and the longest holiday that I had is 10 days — for a trekking trip.

Let’s put things into perspective. As a worker with 8-5 work hour, 9 out of 24 hours of my day is spent in the office. Another 13 hours is spent on daily commuting, sleeping, eating, showering and family time. At best, I will have approximately 2 hours to myself every day to squeeze in activities such as: working out, blogging, reading or learning. My typical weekday schedule:


Downtime Time Block

Since the start of the RMO, my daily schedule looks something into this:


Downtime Shifted

Instead of having only 2-hour of free time, I now have an extra 6-hour of free time to myself per day. An 8-hour of daily free time translates into a total of 80 hours during this RMO period.

8 hours per day x 10 days (weekdays during RMO) = 80 hours

80 hours is equivalent to 40 days worth of free time in my normal weekday schedule. And man, that is A LOT of time!!


How To Take Advantage During This Downtime?

I’m not sure about your working arrangement during this RMO period but for what I had surveyed, most of us have a flexible work from home schedule. Due to the nature of my work, I was only given a broad overview of what to achieve during this RMO period from my superior and they are being hands-off on how I should achieve the target. That means, no daily video calls and check-ins.

Our circumstances might be different and there are a ton of different ways you can fill your downtime.

As you are aware, the economy has gone haywire and at this rate, the recession seems inevitable. We might as well take this chance to improve ourselves by adding values, learn new skills and stay up to date.

Anyway, I’ve run a Twitter poll a few days ago asking on how the RMO has been treating everyone:

Downtime Twitter Poll

Seems like the majority of people (10 people) are enjoying the downtime but quite a number of people are still finding the things to occupy their time. Here are my suggestions to make the most out of this downtime.


6 Things to Do During This Downtime

1. Read a Book

Do you have a reading list but did not have the time to read them? Well, not you have all the time in the world to read. It can be a book, magazine, blog post or articles. Reading can expand your mind and gives you new perspectives on things. There are an infinite amount of reading materials from biographies, non-fiction and fictions.

Choose whichever floats your boat and start reading. Below are my suggestions:

  1. I Will Teach You To Be Rich — Ramit Sethi
  2. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and Quest For Fantastic Future — Ashlee Vance
  3. You Don’t Have To Be A Shark — Robert Herjavec
  4. The Barefoot Investor — Scott Pape
  5. Shoe Dog — Phil Knight

Scribd is now offering a one-month free trial of audiobook and online reading from their entire library collection. Get it through this link.


2. Enrol in Online Courses

Now is a great time to enrol in online courses to add value to yourself and expand your skillset. It can be related to your career or it can even be new skills to help in your side business and hobbies.

There is numerous online platform which offers courses ranging from software development to digital marketing. There are paid and free options for online learning. However, most of the paid ones offer a money-back guarantee or free-trial period which reduces the risk.

Free Resources: Compilation of 450 Ivy League Online Courses

Paid Resources: Udemy, Teamtreehouse


3. Exercise

It’s difficult to carve out the time on our daily schedule for an exercise or workout. Having this downtime is a chance for us to double down in exercising but of course, it has to be limited to indoors.

There is plenty of great exercises that you can do from home without any pieces of equipment. You are leveraging your bodyweight instead. Check out these two applications for Android: Home Workout and You Are Your Own Gym.

In addition, a mindfulness exercise, Yoga and Pilates are a great way to keep yourself calm and centred during these troubling times.


4. Hobbies

Do you have something that you are passionate about but have forgone since you had started working? Well, now is a great time to reconnect to your passion again. Pick up that dusty guitar, start knitting, baking or woodworking again.

Who knows you might discover a deeper connection with your hobby this time and eventually lead to a bigger opportunity — a side business, perhaps?


5. Listen to a Podcast

Listening to a podcast is a great way to occupy your time, but you have to listen while doing something. Otherwise, you can get bored or sleepy real fast. A great way to listen to a podcast is while taking a shower, cooking or working out.

There are tons of great podcast selection ranging from talks about your favourite TV series, self-improvement, business and general knowledge. Below is my podcast recommendation.

  1. Business Wars from Wondery
  2. How I Built This from NPR
  3. The Tim Ferris Show from Tim Ferris
  4. Master of Scale from Reid Hoffman


6. Spend Time With Your Loved Ones

Self-improvement also includes making connections with the people that matter to you. Use this downtime to spend the time with your loved ones: spouses, families and housemates. Have a conversation, eat dinner together or play board/card games with them.



Without a doubt, right now is a troubling time and everything seems to be spinning out of control. As an individual, we can help to make a difference by staying at home and follow the strict rules in place. Use this time to relax and re-invent ourselves so that we come out of this stronger.


ACTIONABLE TIPS: There is still plenty of time to make the most out of this downtime. Step back and evaluate how you have been spending your downtime. If you feel great about it, carry on. If not, start to take action!

So, how are you spending your downtime? Do share your stories in the comment section below. In addition, please help to share this post within your social circle so that they can start making the most out of their downtime.


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Mat is your average Malaysian with the dream of being financially free. Deep down, he knows the journey towards independence is very tough and treacherous, which is why he blogs in Mat Kewangan as a way to keep him motivated and keep the dream alive.
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1 year ago

My downtime is spending my time learning how to code. Do household and nursing 2 kids. The hard part when they start fighting and I sometimes turn to T-Rex. My worries are after 31 March are things going back well or otherwise. Let’s hope things going well. Anyways just follow on twitter.

1 year ago
Reply to  matkewangan

I started learning python language last Nov 2019 and present. I was a learned data scientist and Web Dev. So far my intentions to learn since the next tier industry it’s gonna be tier 4 and lots of automation work. Anyways I’m self-taught in the programming world so a bit slower to get the core concept. But I was investing in this website with a great community there. Maybe want to change my career for the long term since my background study was architectural.


[…] to add value and prepare yourself to get ahead professionally and creatively. There are a lot of activities you can do now that helps to fill up your free […]


[…] addition, I am using this downtime to prepare myself to launch my side […]

1 year ago

Do you procrastinate? Because I do a lot. Haha I have similar list as yours but oh god the hours wasted on mindless scrolling through social media… any tips?

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