Time Management for Professionals

24 Hours… Isn’t that what every single one of us get for each day? How is that a few people get things done and lead a life of contentment and success while the rest of us wonder where the 24 hours zapped past us leaving us reeling for the nth time; not knowing how to complete the never ending To Do lists.

What do successful people do? What miracle is that they are having up their sleeves that we don’t seem to possess? Well, I know for sure that they master one aspect, a key aspect very well…. That thing called “TIME”. The key to success is their mastery over the cant-buy-from-shop commodity, the elusive “TIME”.

If Time is such a powerful contributor for success, then why not learn to master it? After all, it is a skill we can acquire by making 1% changes each day and shedding few unnecessary practices we have given us in to.

Time management has to be looked upon in a holistic perspective; one cannot achieve the results by managing time just at work, ignoring the personal or family time and vice versa. This will result in imbalance and the happiness will still continue to elude us. Let us take a look at simple, yet time tested and proven techniques that really helps in conquering time, thereby creating a success atmosphere, personally and professionally.

  1. “It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is what are we busy about”– Know where your time is being spent
  2. “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible” – Identify your roles and goals
  3. “It’s not about having time; it’s about making time” – Prioritise and schedule

Quote credits – Henry David Thoreau, Tony Robbins, Rachael Bermingham

“It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is what are we busy about” – Know where your time is being spent

In Financial astuteness to accumulate wealth, the thumb rule is primarily identifying the spending pattern and tune-up the expenses. This will result in cutting back on your unnecessary expenditures and increasing your savings. Apply this to your activities as well; everyday write a journal of what you have done. Do this for every activity from the start to end of each day. Review this journal at the end of every week, say on Sunday. This will give a fair understanding of where the time is slipping away. You will be surprised to notice that there are activities that you do gives no pleasure at all; there will be activities that you could have delegated; there are few activities that you had spent awful lot of time which could have been spent productively. You would also notice that you hadn’t spent any time on some activities that you actually want to do. But, week after week this is still happening because you are unaware doing it.

So, the first step in mastering time is to identify where your time is spent. To help you in this step, I have attached a template (a spreadsheet). Use it for recording your daily activities. Review weekly.

Now, knowing where your time is spent is one side of the coin. Knowing where you want your time to be spent is the other side of it. This brings us to the next step…

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible” – Identify your roles and goals

All of us don many hats during our lifetime. We are Employees / Employers, Mother / Father, Wife/Husband, Daughter/Son, Friend and of course – Individual at the same time. Unless we recognize each of the roles that we are playing and set goals that we want to achieve in each of those roles, the happiness / success / content are distant dreams. You might think why is that so? Imagine a situation where a middle-aged man, 45 years doing wonderfully in his career – who has set up a multi-billion dollar business that is doing performing well – yet, if has lost his health in the due process of achieving this, do you consider him successful? Is he happy in spite of the abundance of wealth that he has now accumulated? The answer is a straight forward No. Similarly, if someone has spent time well with family, but has ignored the professional life and repents later on the lost job or less paying one, it is still not a happy or successful life.

So, the key is identity the roles you are playing and set goals for each role. Though most of us have similar roles, each one might have a different goal. The whole idea is to run your own race.

To help you in this step, let me share my own roles and goals

Now you have an idea of roles and goals, I trust. The key is to create measurable and achievable goals. Do not have wish list statements which you cannot later quantify your progress or achievement. Also, begin with ones that you can accomplish with a slight stretch. If you set goals that isn’t making you stretch, you become complacent; if you set ones that are too hard to reach the failures will pull you down. It should be like jumping up and catching it. Not too far that you don’t try at all, neither too close that you think you can catch whenever you want – but never do.

Alright, we first understood how to find where your time is getting spent and now we have charted out what exactly you want to do. Now, the step forward is to prioritize what we want to do every day and schedule them. Let us now take the next crucial step…

It’s not about having time; it’s about making time – Prioritise and schedule

The above quote is one of my favourites. Most of us are scheduling our days, but are we doing it in the order of priority? Next time you schedule your week / day, ask yourself these questions…

Are all of these should be done by me?

Can I delegate?

Is it worth doing it?

Is this activity in my priority of items to be done?

Does this activity align with my goal?

Most of all, does it bring me joy doing this? (If not now, in the long term)

Each item should feature in your schedule, only after you have pondered over these questions and answered them affirmatively that you have a reason to do it. As important it is to plan your work week, it is equally important if not more, to plan your personal life as well. Your work out regime, your time with family, and your hobby everything should find a place in the weekly schedule. What gets scheduled, gets done. So, understand your priorities and schedule.

You might say, well, all that is fine, but how do I prioritise? Everything on my plate looks important… Here is an algorithm for you. This is a widely benefitted quadrant technique that has benefitted leaders worldwide.

The best situation is to spend mostly on Quadrant 2 activities. However, this would seem impossible to begin with. So, start with eliminating Quadrant 4 altogether and strive to bring down Quadrant 1 and Quadrant 3. We discussed in the Step 1 to review the week every Sunday. Place each of your activities in one of the quadrants to identify where you are currently. Now, after understanding the priorities spend in planning / scheduling the next week. This will give a sense of control of the week and also correct your mistakes before it’s gone too far. As Mr. Drucker puts it aptly, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all”.

Let me conclude the Part 1 of the article with these three steps. These are crucial three steps in mastering time management. I will urge you to take these 3 steps in your mission to conquer time. Remember, things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least. My best wishes for you to master the time and I am so eager to hear from you the feedback for the article as well as these techniques once you implement them. I will see you all soon with the Part 2 of the article, where we will speak more about how you can increase your productivity in whatever your do thereby saving time for even more activities that you wish to accomplish during your time in this planet. Until then, Adios Amigos!

Author’s profile

Abirami V

Abirami is a competent professional with over a decade of experience in the Software Industry, Specialization in MS tech stack with an unbridled enthusiasm for latest technologies and Innovation. She has excellent credentials in Project Management, Business Analysis, Client handling, Development, Marketing, Process Improvement and effective People Management. A voracious reader, is strong willed and passionate about mentoring people to unlock their greatness.


Benefits of Audit Digitalization

Digitalization that was once an aspiration is now a reality. Companies are constantly transforming their processes to take advantage of the technological advancements . They are investing in new technologies that increase ease of access, enhance productivity, aides in decision making, and have other benefits that will leverage the business. With all industries going digital, the Banking Industry is no different. It is going through a huge transformation and the professionals are also evolving as per the current requirements. Remote Audit or eAudit has gained a lot of popularity lately as there is a dire need for the same. 

The Internal and External Audits no longer are conducted the conventional way. With the advent of newer technologies, there is a paradigm shifting thought process in the way that the audit is conducted. Technologies such as video conferencing, email and audio calls can be used to obtain audit evidence. Remote audit encourages better communication even during the testing times such as the pandemic situation we are in right now. It strengthens the overall audit process and helps build a better relationship between auditor and auditee. This transformation will change the course of how auditors will work going forward. 

To reap the benefits that are mentioned above, audit digitalization is the cornerstone 

The key benefits of Audit Digitalization are:

  • Absolute transparency that gives way to greater risk identification and business insights.
  • Data availability couldn’t be easier. Auditors will be able to access data through secure authorized platforms and applications – anywhere & anytime 
  • It saves the auditor more time on preparing audit reports now since the system generates the reports once the auditing is concluded
  • Allows the auditor to spend more time on aspects that add value to the audit process with the user friendly software that provides all the required information at their fingertips. Reports provide better insights for evaluation and assist auditors in making informed decisions
  • Auditors will easily be able to view data, review documentation, conduct interviews and make observations with auditees
  • Remote auditing eliminates the requirement to commute and the health concerns associated with it, the auditor is more likely to be more focused than before

NCS Soft Solutions — The Leader in Audit Digitalization — offers a complete Audit & Compliance Management system — eTHIC. This system is all that you need right now to overcome all your audit challenges. A clear and well-planned audit planning and good communication are essential from all parties to ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible. eTHIC is designed with a dynamic dashboard that enables better decision making, increases efficiency and effectiveness in audit, reduces time in audit planning and scheduling. It is highly scalable and supports Continuous Transaction Audit, Real-Time Audit Stats, Parameterised and Configurable Workflow. It also includes the Remote Audit or e-Audit features. eTHIC is all the above and much more. Request for your demo today, because Audit Digitalization is the way forward.

Audit Digitalization


Impact of COVID-19 in Indian Banking arena

COVID-19 has cemented its place in the world history for having significantly impacted the global financial markets, including India. As Coronavirus continues to spread, and more information comes to light, the banking sector over the next two quarters is expected to have a tough time. It is a no-brainer that the lockdown imposed and the prolonged shutdown / skeletal working of the all establishments will lead to a possibility of new NPAs [Non Performing Assets]; not to mention few industry sectors like the tourism, entertainment and hospitality which are still awaiting their sunrise. Small business, which are already less on cash will face the massive hit due to the prevailing situation

COVID-19 may impact the Indian Banking sector in a significant way, banks will witness a precipitous rise in non-performing assets, both from the private corporate and the retail sectors as firms and households struggle to deal with this unprecedented shock. A large number of firms especially the micro, small and medium businesses and also self-employed individuals are likely to default on their bank loans.

What Banks want

  • Deferment of loan instalment for 6 months
  • Bad Loan recognition after 180/270 days, up from 90 days
  • 6 Month extension of cases under Inter Creditor agreements
  • No Classification of NPA for 2 months
  • Hike Partial Credit Guarantee limits
  • Long-term line of credits
  • Sovereign Guarantee for worst hit sectors
  • Credit rating reviews on hold

The Reserve Bank of India slashed interest rates, following other central banks that have taken emergency measures to counter the economic fallout from the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic.

The RBI has decided to retain its accommodative stance as long as necessary to revive growth and mitigate the impact of coronavirus on the Banking & Financial institutions, while ensuring that inflation remains within the target.

  • RBI cuts the Repo Rate by 75 basis point (from 5.15%) to 4.4%
  • Marginal Standing facility (MSF) rate & Bank Rate stand reduced to 4.65% from 5.40%
  • Reverse Repo Rate has been reduced by 90 Basis points to 4%
  • CRR of all banks to be reduced by 100 basis points to 3%
  • Banks to allow 3-months moratorium on all loans; Loan interest payment to be deferred by 3 months
  • RBI will inject liquidity of Rs.3.74 lakh crores to the system

We are living through an extraordinary and unprecedented situation, in terms of both the depth and the duration. The pandemic has affected almost every state / nation and the rate at which it is spreading is alarming. Clearly, the efforts being taken are never heard of and pushes everyone to think outside the box and bring out innovate ways to curb the spread and combat the virus. All commercial banks, including regional rural banks, small finance banks, local area banks, cooperative banks, financial institutions and non-banking finance companies, including housing finance companies and micro-finance lenders will still have impact that can be broadly classified into Short-term (4-6 months) and Long-Term (More than 6 months)

Short-term impact (4-6 months)

  • High Capital Losses: Several Banks might suffer moderate to heavy capital losses in the near future. Risk-weighted assets (RWA) are expected to be impacted by higher charges from increased volatility levels and higher counterparty risks. Potentially less favourable economic outlook might negatively impact the loss allowances. In addition, borrowers may want to refinance at longer maturities to lock in lower interest rates. Financial institutions might have to put their growth targets on the backseat due to these losses, as it would require raising additional funds.
  • Decreased Operational Efficiency and Lower Revenues: As the pandemic advances, the temporary closure of branches and employee absences will impact operations. This might affect lead generation and the sales pipelines, thus slowing down business for multiple quarters. There might be an increased demand for cash in the near future due to the effect on replenishment schedules. In case of interest rate cuts, banks’ net interest income and fee income is expected to be challenged. Due to lower offtake and other pressures, such as lower asset under management and lower investment activities, banks could face de-growth scenarios.
  • Liquidity Crisis: Some banks’ contingency funding plans (CFPs) may have already been invoked. Moreover, due to market volatility, there could be significant swings in stress testing results and limit/threshold breaches. Some market participants may already be experiencing increased liquidity tightening situations. With a sudden halt in cash inflows in the form of loan repayments, there might be a possible scenario of liquidity imbalance leading to an asset liability mismatch. Financial institutions may be required to sell assets not intended to be sold under regular market conditions to cover the sudden liquidity shortfalls. A sharp drop in interest rates and increased volatility in securities and foreign exchange prices may increase the institutions’ market risk.

Long-term impact (More than 6 months)

  • Higher Delinquencies and Higher Capital Requirements: Impediment in cash flows can lead to loan default by various sectors impacted by the pandemic. Banks are already staring at exposure in sectors, such as hospitality, shipping, transport, tourism, and aviation. This is bound to increase until business stability is attained. Under the current regulations, non-performing assets reported by these institutions may see a surge in the first quarter of FY21. A subsequent decrease in shareholder value can result in selling off securities and redemption through mutual funds, thus impacting the liquidity of Banks. With clients potentially experiencing stressed financial conditions, credit quality/ratings may be impacted.
  • Decreased Profitability: Continued business slowdown can cause a significant decrease in profitability and consequently a decrease in the earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). This could result in loss of investor confidence in the institution and further strain the existing woes with respect to funding. Any future growth plans would consequently be affected and might be in need of deferment, as the institution would need to focus on improving margins and top line growth.
  • Non-Financial Risks: Banks are exposed to various other non-financial risks, such as conduct risk/culture, brand risk, model risk, third-party risk, and cyber risk that may or may not have any financial impact in future. If a bank’s operating model needs to change, it may become difficult for the boards of these Banks to continue to meet governance obligations, such as overseeing risk, providing credible challenges to the management, and acting as responsible stewards of the institution. These challenges are expected to translate into high capital infusion requirements for the financial institutions to maintain both regulatory capital and growth capital.

The long-term implications of the pandemic for the Indian Banking Sector are unknown. When normalcy returns, Banks are expected to have learnt a few lessons, including how to best retain operational resilience when confronted with future pandemics, and possibly, how to redesign new operating models such as alternate work arrangements. The pandemic may further accelerate migration to infrastructure of the future– digital channels and connectivity.

  • Embracing New Technologies – Indian Banking sector has already realized the role of technology in achieving the reach and scale. Experts foresee higher rates of adoption of micro-service architecture by dropping vertically integrated stacks, APIs, containerization, cloud computing, AI and blockchain. These technologies will play critical roles in digital transformation of Banks and re-imagine digital delivery of services.
  • Channels of Digitization – India is home to the world’s second largest unbanked population at 190 million adults without access to a bank account. With the reach of the mobile and network spreading like wild fire, the crucial focus area could be to step up the digital financial inclusion powered by the technology. Banks will enable its customers to interact over multiple automated and digital channels to offer the optimal channel mix.
  • Security, Privacy and Customer Trust – In the FY 2017-2018, India’s banking sector witnessed an increase in cyber frauds and incurred $ 13.7 million loss. With increased use of cashless and digital economy, it will be imperative for the banks to implement secure frameworks and systems. The most common security risks include but not limited to money laundering, data breach, Loss of personal information and monetary frauds. Banks should be technically strengthened by rigorous KYC, strong customer authentication (SCA), financial grade APIs, firewalls, smart networks, etc., for secure and seamless transactions. Robust banking solutions and cyber security initiatives help safeguard against malicious attacks.
  • Policy and Compliance – The focus should be on increased digital payment infrastructure, especially in rural India, with an intention to create a financial ecosystem for the unbanked and underbanked population of our country. From a security and privacy standpoint, India is already on its path to introduce the Personal Data Protection bill (PDP) on the lines of GDPR in the EU. This bill protects personal information of consumers including sensitive financial information. It would be in the best interest to implement stringent penalties on erring entities found in violation of the bill

The COVID-19 impact on the global and Indian Banking systems will be phenomenal and multifold. It is important to take the long view and prioritize accordingly.

For Indian banks particularly – resilience, driven by digital agility is a way to achieve relevance and success on the other side of COVID-19.

Author’s profile

Abhijit Ajit Samant

Head of Sales at NCS Soft, Abhijit has more than 15 years of rich & specialised experience in Business Development, Sales-Pre Sales both at India & overseas markets of the Banking & Financial Services Domain. He holds a Post-Graduation in Marketing (PGDBA). A keen strategist, planner and implementer with expertise in devising strategies aimed at enhancing overall organizational growth, sustained profitability of operations and improved business revenue.