In my experience of talking to traders, they tend to fall between two extremes…
Those who are frantically getting on with their daily lives, trying to grab a few minutes screen time between their day job and family life …
And at the other extreme are the traders who spend hours and hours in front of their trading screens each day, who, if they calculated their rate of earnings per hour would barely be scratching together a minimum wage.
If you fall into one of these camps – or recognize some of these problems in your own trading day, then please keep reading …
We’re going to look at how we can seriously reduce the amount of time we spend staring at our charts …
How to reduce your screen time
Ask yourself the following questions:
1 Do you have the best trading window for your strategy?
Let’s say that you’re trading forex for 4 hours each afternoon – would you get better results with your strategy if you spent 45 minutes at your screen at 7am each morning?
Most trading instruments and strategies have an optimum trading time, when most of the action is happening – if you can match that with the time that’s most convenient for you to trade, then you’re going to be using your time more effectively.
This may involve some research into better trading times, new instruments, or different strategies.
2 What do you do when you sit down to trade?
Do you scroll through past charts … look at the economic news … check out trades that you’ve missed …?
Is the phone ringing … or the TV still on … or are you checking emails and social media at the same time?
I’m a technical trader, yet I have a habit of spending hours pouring over economic and political news while I’m at my desk – it’s all very interesting, but according to my trading rules, it shouldn’t be part of my trade decisions. So I’m wasting time!
Write yourself a checklist of the things you need to know before you place your trade – if you find yourself digging around for more information that isn’t relevant to your trading, then you know that you’ve gone off track.
3 Use the trading tools you have available.
Here I’m talking about the technology that’s available to help us out. Traditionally, the way to cut your screen time was to use a “forex robot”. That’s an automated program that identifies and places your trades for you.
I’ll admit that I’m no fan of forex robots – while some of them have proved to be successful, too many of them aren’t for me to trust any “robot” with access to my trading fund!
But there are plenty more trading tools that can save you time:
– Orders that will open and close trades automatically for you whether you’re at your screen or not.
– Trailing stops that can help you achieve a better exit price without you having to do anything.
– Apps that allow you to trade from your smart phone.
– Free alerts from your spread betting firm that tell you when price levels are hit.
As with all pieces of technology, we need to be careful that they are in fact saving time, rather than eating into it. If you’re constantly checking prices and adjusting trades on your smart phone – perhaps you need to use it less and just check on trades when you’re at your desk.
Likewise, when I first started using automated alerts on my trading platform, I set up so many that I got “alert fatigue” – there were literally so many hitting my inbox that I couldn’t manage them all!
4 Be realistic about how much time you can spare
If you only have 30 minutes in the morning, don’t start following a system that requires detailed analysis, or requires you to be following the markets for 4 hours.
Sure, you might like the look of the profits that these systems are bringing in, but if you’re not able to keep up with the work, it could have a negative impact on your results.
5 Match your trading window to your trading personality
If you’re naturally impatient, and demand plenty of action in your trading, then a long-term strategy that just requires some adjustment of stops and targets each week (occasionally opening a new trade) – might fit in with your busy schedule, but isn’t going to suit your personality.
If you have little time, but want to be actively trading, then you’ll need to seriously restrict your trading window, and perhaps just trade one instrument.
On the other hand, if you’re a trader who reaches decisions slowly and after deliberation, then a cut-and-thrust scalping strategy isn’t going to be right for you.