Are you also struggling to find the time to establish a serious trading routine besides working your regular day job, following your hobbies, and spending time with friends and family? You are not alone. We know from first hand experience that juggling all our obligations while trying to become a better trader is hard.
Establishing a better trading routine and being able to make the most use of your limited time will have a big difference on your trading. The problem is, 90% of all trading sites only focus on how to pick entries and discuss the newest indicators, instead of talking about how to build a professional and structured routine around your personal, daily life.
If your trading could need some structure and if you want to find a way to combine all the things that are important to you in your life, this article shows you how to achieve just that.
When do you have time? A first assessment
The first and most important thing is to make an audit of your personal life. At what times are you at work, when can’t you possibly check your charts and how much time do you really have on your hands to trade?
The table below shows the week of a person with a normal day job. If you are like most people, you will spend 35 – 50 hours per week at work. You probably also engage in hobbies after work (sports, friends, etc.) and take some time off over the weekend. And although this sounds like a busy life already, it usually does leave enough time to work on your trading skills and find time to trade. A typical schedule of the average person looks something like this. The white areas are usually spent watching TV, playing games or doing other ‘less important’ things. We’ll get to that in a bit.
What is the approach that fits your lifestyle?
Your trading approach has to be chosen with care. Not all trading styles are equally good for different lifestyles and by intentionally picking the trading style that goes well with your personal life, you can significantly increase the odds of success because you are more likely to follow your trading routine.
Option 1: Day trading
Day trading means that you open and close your trades within a few hours. Day traders usually trade the lower time-frames and have multiple trades per day.
However, being a day trader means that you have to actively follow the markets when they are open. For example, an US based trader with a 9 -5 job will usually have difficulties day trading the US market because his day job happens at the same time when the US stock market is open and, thus, he can’t actively follow what is happening in the live markets.
However, the same US trader could choose to trade the European, Asian and Australian sessions (or parts of it) after he gets home from work.
Those are just two examples how considering the time zone you are in and your job schedule, and then choosing an appropriate market can help you find ways to combine personal life and trading. The schedule below shows how a day trader could fit in trading time besides his ‘regular life’. There is still a lot of room for improvement. Later we will see how to use it effectively.
Option 2: Swing trading
Swing traders usually trade the higher timeframes and they hold trades for several days and sometimes weeks. Therefore, swing traders often don’t sit in front of their screens all day long but only check their positions a few times during the day.
For those reasons, swing trading is often easier to combine with a 9-5 job and other responsibilities because you need less ‘screen-time’. A swing trader would, therefore need 1 – 2 hours every morning before he gets to work to check his trades, analyze and manage his positions if necessary and plan his ideas. After work he does the same: he spends 2 hours to go over his positions, analyzes them, monitors the markets, performs an analysis and plans his next trading day.
What to do when the markets are closed
This is what separates the profitable from the losing trader. The average struggling trader shuts down his platform Friday evening when the markets are closing and then reopens it on Monday morning. The professional and serious trader, on the other hand, knows about the value weekend-time has. When the markets are closed, the real work for a trader starts.
I find that a surprising portion of what sets up traders for success during the day is what has happened the previous night. – Dr. Steenbarger
Whenever the market is closed (this also counts for your weekday evenings) you can make the greatest difference in your trading. A serious trader reviews his trades, analyzes the instruments he follows, writes and updates his trading plan, journals his trades in his trading journal and prepares himself for the next day. Just doing this for 60 – 90 minutes every night and following what we have just said will transform your trading beyond what you think is possible.
On the weekends, you should block out more time to work on your trading skills, thoroughly review your past trading week, go over your trading journal once more and perform an in-depth analysis of the instruments and markets you are watching. The table below shows how your weekly routine could look like.
Project yourself 5 years into the future. Are you going to wish you had watched more TV, or spent more time at the bar, or would sacrificing 2 hours each night be worth coming closer to your dream of becoming a full-time trader and then do all the things you always dreamed about?
The myth of screen-time
Traders often talk about the concept of screen-time and they believe that they have to spend several hours each day staring at their charts to become better traders. However, most traders just randomly flip through time-frames to hunt for trade signals, surf through forums to find better systems or chat with other traders who are also not clear about what they are doing.
Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. – Vince Lombardi
Instead of wasting your precious time, use it wisely. The keyword is deliberate practice. We challenge you to stop what you have been doing and start applying a more serious approach. We have mentioned earlier that keeping a trading plan, reviewing your trades, keeping a trading journal and following a structured approach will have a dramatic impact on your trading. Are you tired of not seeing any results? Maybe it’s time to try something new.
If you don’t want to go this path alone, get your Edgewonk trading journal enroll in our trade development course. There we will show you step by step how to establish a powerful trading routine.
This article has been published originally on Edgewonk.com which is Tradeciety’s partner site and the trading journal software that we developed.