Use Cheatsheets to Get Better at Trading
If you’ve ever been organized in any aspect of your life, you’ve probably used a cheatsheet or checklist. Cheatsheets are available for tasks ranging from military operations to baby sitting.
It only makes sense… In the heat of the moment, it helps to have something you can look at—a printed Standard Operating Procedure—to guide your decisions and ensure you haven’t forgotten something important.
I’ve found that a good time to start a cheatsheet is when you’re learning something new. That’s the time when you have a “beginner’s brain” and you’re in a teachable frame of mind. At this point, you’re less likely to forget to include a tiny, but important, step in the process.
Plus, by starting a cheatsheet while you learn, you’ll get the added benefit of reinforcing the lessons you are learning.
Even better, creating a cheatsheet means you’ll be wasting less creative and emotional energy in the future. You won’t have to worry about remembering what to do because it will be right in front of you.
Example #1 – Market in Correction
For example, you could create a trading cheatsheet to remind you of the everyday rules for day trading. It might include steps like these:
- Beware the first 15 to 20 minutes of trading
- Beware of gap-up openings in the stock market
- Never chase a big-gap opening in one of your breakout stocks
- Know when economic reports are coming out
…And so on.
This type of cheatsheet can be especially helpful to traders who get so caught up in the emotions of trading that they forget about their original plan for buying or selling. A trading cheatsheet gives traders a written system that can bring them back to earth, avoiding costly emotion-based decisions.
BONUS: Download my complete Top-10 Rules for Day Trading Success cheatsheet (PDF).
Example #2 – Power Outage
Or what about a cheatsheet to remind you what to do first if the power goes out when you’re in a trade?
Emergency cheatsheets will help you remember to do the right things first.
Scenario: You’re in a trade. The power goes out. Your battery back-up UPS (uninterruptible power supply) takes over.
If you’ve got a CyberPower UPS, you’ll know exactly how many minutes of power you’ve got left. If you don’t have a CyberPower, just know it’s often no more than 5 minutes. In either case, there isn’t much time to act before you lose computer access.
These steps might be on your cheatsheet:
- Shut down all but one monitor.
- Shut down any other unnecessary peripherals on the UPS circuit (like printers or external hard drives).
- Make a decision about what to do for each active trade. Either sell now, or set up profit targets and stop losses.
- Call the power company to see if it’s a system problem, or just you. [Include the number to call in your cheatsheet.]
- If it’s just you, check the circuit breaker panel.
- If it’s a problem the power company is addressing, refer to cheatsheet on what to do when Internet connection is lost.
…And so on.
For most of us, when the power goes out, panic sets it. If you don’t have a checklist to follow, you’re liable to miss something—like getting out of a trade—because you’re spending those first critical minutes on knee-jerk reactions—like trying to figure out how to get the power back on.
Guidelines for Cheatsheet Building
The trick to cheatsheets is to include just enough information so you remember what to do, but not so much that you can’t see what to do in a quick glance.
When you’re creating your cheatsheet, put the information into an outline with step numbers, bullets, ALL CAPS, colored fonts, and other visual cues to help you follow along and not lose your place.
You might even want to print a paper copy and have it posted where you can see it from your desk chair. Do whatever it takes to be sure you stick to your plan.
You’ll be rewarded with better performance when you use your trading cheatsheets to help you consistently stick to a solid trading strategy and overcome the pull of your emotional reactions. And your performance won’t be negatively impacted when you use your emergency cheatsheets to help you properly react to emergency situations.
We hope today’s Quick Tip helped you. If you found this helpful, you’ll want to check out the other computer How-To’s I’ve created on this page. You can always call us if you have questions: 800-387-5250