What Exercise Buffs Taught Me About Trading

Not long ago, I did a survey of my readers, asking about their biggest challenges as traders. A lot of you said you just don’t have the time you feel like it requires to participate in day trading.

This is a frequent concern I hear on my live webinars, too: how can someone with time constraints – like a day job or family commitments – fit in time to trade?

(Note that I’m not writing this post for professional traders who have committed to trading all day, every day. No, this post is for people who are trading as a sideline or as a hobby. If this is you, read on.)

When you think about it, this same question comes up any time you want to start something new. We all have busy schedules. So adding anything new to what we’re already doing, no matter what that is, is always a challenge.

Although I have some ideas for how to answer this question, I thought it might be interesting to go outside the world of trading and see what advice I could find from people facing a similar challenge:  how to find time to exercise.

I found a great article with 6 tips for finding time to exercise. Every one of them (to my surprise) could work just as well for trading as for exercising.

Here is my trading version of those 6 tips:

1. Work efficiently. You need to be able to work on your trading sideline wherever you are. This means:

  • Recognize that trading-related tasks don’t always have to be done at your desk.
  • Recognize that doing research and learning more about trading is still making progress, so it still counts.
  • Use time away from your desk to listen to podcasts, watch training videos, watch daily or weekly market review reports, or look over any stock-pick recommendations you subscribe to.
  • Have a way to record your thoughts, plans, and strategies wherever you are.
  • Use technology to help you, such as our Autotrader software that automatically adjusts your stop losses as a stock rises in price.

2. Cater to your own likes and dislikes. There are lots of opportunities to make the way you “do trading” fit your style. Here are some ways to customize your trading experience:

  • Understand what level of risk you can accept and plan accordingly.
  • Know how much you are willing to risk on any one trade and stick with the plan.
  • Try out different news feeds, trading platforms, etc. to find your best fit.
  • Make sure that when you are at your desk, your work environment is a mood lifter, not a mood detractor.
  • Find a way to record your research and results that fits you. Are you a paper-and-pencil person? Or would you rather keep a digital journal? Find tools you enjoy using.
  • In your trading journal, record how you feel about different trading situations. Reflect on these journaled feelings periodically, and see if there are changes you can make to increase the enjoyment you get from trading.

3. Use competition as a motivation. This one may be a surprise to you. Everyone knows about 10K’s, but trading competitions??? Yes, they are out there. Google it.

  • In addition to big public competitions (some with real money, some not) you can create your own competition: against acquaintances, against a reported portfolio, against the market, or just against your own past performance.
  • Just remember, the reason to engage in competitions is to spur yourself to higher levels of performance. Don’t get too caught up in the frenzy of the moment.

4. Make a schedule and commit to it. If you had a meeting scheduled with someone else, you’d do your best to make the time to get to that meeting, right?

  • Decide when you want to trade each week: Every day? One day? What time?
  • Put it on the calendar like any other meeting: Outlook, paper planner, whatever kind you use.
  • Set an alarm or reminder on your cell phone.
  • When you’re tempted to skip it
    • Remind yourself why you’re working at your trading sideline
    • Remind yourself that it’s a priority worth keeping
    • Remind yourself that consistency is more important than frequency

5. Track your activity levels. You’re already tracking your gains and losses (aren’t you?), but that’s only half the battle.

  • In your trading journal, record not just your gains and loses, but how much time you spend on trading activities, and how closely you are adhering to your strategy.
  • In your activity log, make a note on days when you study and research, even if you don’t make any trades.
  • Add up the hours spent each week, month, year.
  • Figure out for what percent of trades you adhered to your strategy over the same time periods.
  • Why? To monitor your progress. To identify areas for improvement. To notice if you’re slipping.
  • Just like any other part of business, we do what we measure.

6. Choose something over nothing. Look for and take opportunities to learn, to do research, to analyze recent trades, or to update your trading journal (instead of playing games or watching TV).

You don’t need an hour, or even 30 minutes, to check on a stock or learn something new. Take whatever you can get. Here are some situations where you might be able to steal some time for your trading sideline:

  • Waiting in the carpool line, or any other line
  • Waiting for someone else, like when your spouse is getting dressed
  • Waiting in a waiting room or at an airport
  • During commercials when you’re watching live TV (Yes, it still happens.)
  • On public transportation (planes, trains, buses, ferries, taxies)
  • In the car (listening only, of course!)
  • First thing in the morning (while you’re still in bed)
  • Last thing at night (right after you get in bed)

Finally, realize that you may be in a season when you won’t be able to devote much time to trading. But by keeping your hand in, even a little bit, it will be easier and faster to ramp up your trading when your time eventually becomes your own.

There are more trading computer tips like this in our buyers guide. Check out our “How To Buy a Trading Computer” e-book.

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