In our previous article in this series, we talked quite a bit about how a lot of Forex traders start trading, their reasons for doing so and even got into how acknowledging what kind of trader you are can greatly contribute to your overall success, those are all important topics and we may very well revisit them from various perspectives at a later date but we want to make sure that this series also provides you with some hands-on, actual benefits, things you can apply to your everyday trading routine and will help you in some way.
To that end, today we want to focus on something that most traders tend to take for granted and not pay much attention to – their work environment and how it can be essential to your success as a trader.
There are quite a few prop trading companies out there, and websites that offer articles, videos and all sorts of aids that claim to have tips for traders, and the topic of your trading environment is one that you can very easily find in between those articles, but if you look closely enough you’ll see that nearly all of those lists contain the exact same tips & tricks, ordered differently, written differently and with varying messages, but still – the same advice, just using a different voice.
They’ll mention the importance of your internet connection.
Why you should invest in a mobile modem of some kind.
How you should look into getting a laptop that contains nothing but your trading software on it and is used for nothing else BUT trading.
The importance of checking your internet connection for speed and ping.
And so on and on.
But here’s the thing – none of those things have ANYTHING to do with any trader daily routine or their trading environment, they all have a lot to do with technical ability to trade successfully, or the ability to preserve against catastrophic breakdowns that prevent a trader from profiting and the need to have backups that are safe and free from any chance of contamination.
So let’s have a look at some of the things that do comprise your work environment, how you can improve it and how a better environment can lead to better results when trading.
So now that we know what isn’t a part of your actual environment and routine, let’s take a look at what is, or what can and should be a part of it:
Time Of Day
Length Of Stay
All Of The Above Combined = Trading Routine
Trading Routine = Path To Success
This article will cover all 9 components, but it should be noted ahead of time that some of them, in fact – most components are subject to individual preferences, so while we can provide our own take and opinions on them, the final decision on how to apply these – is entirely up to you, we can only provide the information and hope that you’ll do whatever is best for your path to success.
So let’s start going through the list and see just how you can create a better trading environment for yourself, one that is more geared towards success!
This is, quite possibly, the only item on our list that demands that you adjust yourself to a certain something, instead of working to create a habit for yourself, and the reason is quite simple.
Unlike other items on our list, this one has variables that are simply not up to you.
If you mostly trade the GBP/USD pair, you’ll need to adjust to the hours where most activity on this pairing takes place, i.e – hours where there is significant overlap between business hours in both countries, those hours are of course vastly different than the time of day where you’ll find the most (and best) activity on the USD/JPY pair, or where most activity on Gold or Oil take place, and if Cryptocurrencies are “your thing” – well, there’s almost no specific times, so you’ll have to adjust yourself to where most activity is located.
Then there is the issue of where on the globe you happen to be located which will obviously greatly impact the time of day for your activity.
If you trade mostly USD based crosses but you happen to reside in Asia – you had better prepare yourself for a lot of sleepless nights and very very early mornings, that’s simply how time zones work, and they can’t be altered.
There are two ways to approach this time of day issue – you can either adjust yourself to the time of day, meaning sleepless nights or otherwise irregular working hours or, assuming that is not possible for whatever reason – you must become an expert at trading your favorite asset/pairing during off-peak hours.
Both approaches are reasonable enough and can be profitable, but it is best not to try and combine them, because, as you’ll soon read – they can negatively impact other aspects of your trading routine.
Simply put – your “length of stay” is the amount of time you put into trading on a daily basis.
This includes not only the hours during which you’re actively trading but also the time during which you do your preparations, research and after trading is done – your note-keeping and analysis.
For some traders, that amount of time can be as small as 3-4 hours on a daily basis, while others take up a more standard “workday” approach of 7-9 hours, and part-time traders can even make do with an hour or two, given the right circumstances.
It is really a question of when and how you can achieve your peak focus and efficiency.
The “time of day” also impacts this item quite a bit, obviously, because the two must work in concert for you to be successful, for example – if you trade assets that are at their peak during normal working hours for you, you can take your time and not place as great an importance on the speed of your execution – take your time, read another chart and only then – pull the trigger on that trade.
However, if your time zone and chosen asset do not perfectly align – you need to make changes to the way you operate, primarily the speed in which you do so.
Trying to pull off successful trades at 3 am when you’ve been up for 6 or 7 hours is hard for anyone, our bodies are simply not wired to operate in such a way without a great deal of conditioning.
So the best way to operate is to be consistent in the amount of time you dedicate daily to your craft and work to combine that as best you can with the time of day during which you can be most effective.
Anyone working in an office, or worse – on their feet in some capacity has probably learned to cast this aside as some sort of privilege that people with white-collar jobs have, but comfort is something that many traders often overlook when trying to create their ideal trading routine, and that is a mistake that should be corrected.
Comfort can be expressed in many ways – If you sit it a desk – make sure it is of proper height in relation to your chair, make sure the chair itself is comfortable and does not have too much “give” (this will help avoid back discomfort which impacts your ability to sit still for extended periods of time).
Your chair and desk, which combine to create your work station ought to be comfortable, but not so much so that they induce slouching or sitting as you would on a sofa at the end of your day.
They should also be appropriately stationed in relation to each other so that your eyes are at a downward angle towards the screen at a minimum distance of 20 inches (50 centimeters or so) if your screen is on the larger side – you ought to have a greater distance between it and yourself.
Your screen ought to have brightness set to the minimum which your eyes can “stomach”, and any overhead lighting should also be kept to a minimum, and if that lighting is neon – consider turning it off altogether if possible.
Make sure your mouse and keyboard are also comfortable enough for you to use for extended periods, and if not – consider purchasing ergonomic ones or items that lessen the stress on your wrists and hands.
Your body is the most key element of what enables your mind to remain as sharp as you need it to be successful, best keep it comfortable as possible, which also leads us directly to the next item on our list.
OK, this one item is all about some common sense, we’re not doctors or nutrition experts, so all we have is our own experience while trading and working long hours at it.
It is also something that we can not say is universally true because of different dietary restrictions or preferences that people have, but we can still work within those to try and create the best possible menu for the working trader, the one that will become part of any trader daily routine.
Let’s start with the obvious one, the one that’s probably already a part of your daily routine – Coffee – it has been known to increase awareness and concentration levels and has other positive side effects – just don’t overdo it, as it also has a wicked “downside” and can be highly addictive.
Nuts are a very healthy snack – they’re full of antioxidants, vitamin E and omega-3 fats, all of which are conducive to improving brain functions.
Dark Chocolate – contains another type of antioxidant that improves brain functions, just make sure you grab the 70% and higher variety, as those are the purest forms with the least amounts of added sugars.
Oily fish such as – Tuna, Mackrel, Salmon, Herring & Sardines all contain high levels of Omega 3 that improve brain functions and blood flow to all parts of your body (brain included).
Various berries such as Strawberries, Blueberries & Blackberries contain a lot of the same antioxidants that come with coffee, but in natural and healthy forms.
Avocados are a great way of fighting high blood pressure which is the result of high-stress jobs, reducing your blood pressure will also aid in improving your cognitive functions.
There are plenty of other foods and drinks that can help you improve both your nutrition and your brain function, and you can find them online with ease.
The main point we’re making here is that whatever you put into your body before, during and after your forex trading hours can also become a great and important part of your routine and your trading environment.
There’s a very clear chain of command when it comes to trading forex, your brain is the undisputed leader of the bunch – it sees everything, knows everything, makes all the important decisions.
Your fingers are best compared to the foot soldiers – executing whatever the mind orders – moving across your keyboard, mouse or touch screen.
But you also have to make use of your eyes – they are perhaps best equated to your information gatherers or spies – they provide the information the brain has to process, so they are your first line of attack against the onslaught of information you need to go through when trading.
So just like it is important to provide your mind food – you should also strive to keep your eyes clear and well-rested.
Current recommendations are to take roughly 5 minutes away from your computer screen for every hour spent next to it, make sure you do that!
Close your eyes (not to sleep) for a couple of minutes, focus on something further away from the screen, pick a couple of permanent objects in varying distances and take a moment to focus on each of them – this will not only help improve your concentration levels and decrease stress from your visual centers – it will also help your vision in the long run, well beyond your trading years.
There’s no getting around this one – Noise will always be a part of our trading routine, but how you embrace or shut it out – is really up to you – you just need to be aware of what helps you achieve peak efficiency when trading forex.
Some traders are used to the hustle and bustle of noisy, people filled locations, so as long as someone doesn’t step on their keyboard mid-trade – everything will be fine.
Others have always been a part of quieter work environments such as offices, so any bit of noise is likely to throw them out of balance.
The noise level in your trading environment is a crucial element in your ability to concentrate so here are some possible solutions:
No matter how you choose to trade, you must always be conscious of the impact that a noisy trading environment can have on your concentration and as a result – your success.
We could take the time and go into the many reasons why this is important, but we believe there’s no real need to do that, is there?
We don’t really need to explain that the stress and concentration levels that trading takes can perhaps best be used in short bursts instead of prolonged exposures.
So make sure you take plenty of breaks, it is actually best that you take 1 short break per hour than a longer one every few hours.
Space your breaks out evenly to avoid fatigue and make sure they vary in nature – one should be a food break, the other – a mini-concentration break (for your eyes and mind), the third – a bathroom break, the fourth – light exercise and so on, make sure that your breaks rest all the parts of your body that get the heaviest workload – brain, eyes, body.
All of the items we mentioned in this article can (and SHOULD) combine together to create what is your trading routine, but trying to formulate something with so many variables in it isn’t that easy, so try working out those individual components first before you start throwing them all together.
Make sure you’re comfortable with your trading hours and time zones and that you are able to work and stay as efficient as possible within them before you start optimizing other ingredients into the mix.
Once you start putting your routine together – make sure you are aware of yourself and your surroundings – do not follow it blindly, things often change and shift around us, and a successful trader is one that is aware of those changes and incorporates them into their routine and their trading environment.
Once you’ve managed to combine everything into a routine that works for you – you should see things start falling into place with far greater ease – you will be sharper, more efficient, able to produce better results (market permitting) in shorter spans of time and yes – quite possibly more successful than before.
Your mind, your eyes and your body will all be grateful for the changes you’ve made and hopefully – so will your bottom line.
Remember – being a creature of habit has many advantages, at least when it comes to creating the best possible trading environment, and that’s what we’re all here to do, isn’t it?
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