How do you keep from getting distracted and missing a trade?
We usually get one of these questions from a trader right after he or she missed a big runner.
First, understand we miss trades ALL THE TIME. We’re watching XYZ but suddenly ABC goes. No matter what you do, you’ll always miss a trade here and there. But there is something that helped me tremendously (besides my NO DISCTRACTIONS RULE discussed in an earlier blog post) that I thought would share:
One of the first things I noticed when I started trading full time back in 2008 was there was a LOT of sitting involved in Day Trading. Hours and hours of staring at the screens sitting in my chair. I wasn’t used to all this sitting since my former “real job” required a lot of walking around. My body hated it. My mind hated it. I was uncomfortable all the time. Back pain, leg pain, neck pain, etc.. By 10:30am I often found myself distracted and spending more time trying to adjust my position and get comfortable than looking for trades. By lunch I felt exhausted, cramped and overall miserable. I was in love with Day Trading but hated all the sitting at the desk. I felt sluggish and tired all the time and my caffeine intake was insane. I was starting to understand why I kept hearing and reading that sitting all day is terrible for your health. I even tried several different office chairs. All were great at first, but then quickly felt just as bad, if not worse, than the last. And on top of everything, I was gaining weight!
Finally, in 2012 I had enough. I bought an adjustable standing desk. I took the chair out of my office all together. What a difference it made! I was so much more alert, especially from the open until lunch. I was amazed how much more focused I was just by standing rather than sitting. My mind was solely focused on my screens and the tasks at hand, rather than squirming around in my chair trying to get comfortable.
I quickly realized something else: Standing all day in one place is hard too! Maybe even harder than sitting. There were times when I felt like sitting again and giving my body a break but I didn’t want to go back to the chair. I had to find the right balance.
So I bought one of those large exercise balls. Whenever I felt like sitting, I would lower the desk and sit on the ball. It was a good balance, no pun intended.
A few years ago I finally added an under the desk treadmill. The treadmill was the final piece I was missing. Now I can stand, walk and sit (still only using the ball) while trading. Having these options allows me to focus on my trading and I don't feel like crap any longer. I actually have a routine:
8:30am-9:15am: Sitting on the ball while I prep for the day.
9:15am-11am: Standing and hyper focused during this time of day.
Noon-12:30: Away from my desk.
12:30-4pm: Combo of mostly walking with some standing, depending on the activity level of the market.
I usually put in at least three (3) miles per day just from the time I spend walking while trading. Three miles doesn’t sound like a lot but keep in mind you’re walking very slowly as this isn’t a running treadmill.
Please understand, I’m not advocating everyone run out and buy a standing desk. This is just what works best for me. This is what helps me stay alert, comfortable and focused on my job. This is what keeps both my mind and body healthy. This is just a small but very important piece of what helps me stay a consistently profitable day tader.
Are you comfortable and focused enough? Figure out what works best for you and don’t let yourself become one of your own distractions.