The significant change to working from home that many have experienced as a result of COVID-19 is somewhat irrelevant for traders. Many traders are used to working from home, so lockdown isn’t very different. That being said, maybe your partner is now also working from home, or the kids are being homeschooled?
So how do you navigate these new challenges and ensure your best output? Below you will find the Your Trading Edge top ten tips to avoid distraction and depression while ensuring your productivity continues through the pandemic. Some of these will even be handy for use when we see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel and return to our new normal.
Tip #1: Prepare your day as per normal
Just because circumstances have changed, your routines should not. Plan your trading day before the market opens as per usual to help mentally lock in the fact that the workday has started. This can include some of the following actions:
- A scan of your regular news sites for any significant business or political events that happened overnight
- Deciding your priority list for what you will be focussing on in that particular trading day
- A schedule for breaks and lunch
It’s also a good idea to vary the plan a litte, especially considering the risk of monotony during lockdown. Look for ways to make your day a little exciting and include things to look forward to.
Tip #2: Decide on, and stick to, your breaks
The house may be a little more cramped than usual, and while it might be tempting to play video games with the kids, try to stick to your nominated break times not to get distracted from the goals set out in the point above. Regular breaks and short bursts of focused work are a proven and effective method when it comes to maximising your efficiency.
Human beings simply are not meant to stare at a computer screen or be seated for eight hours straight. Fatigue is a gateway to distraction and bad decisions when trading, so take a stroll around the block or have lunch outside with the family to keep your mind sharp and your body relaxed.
Tip #3: Use downtime to hone your strategy
Our social lives have taken a dip, so now is the time for self-improvement and upskilling. What skills do you need to refine to become a ‘jack of all trades’ in the markets? If you are not yet trading the market profitably, now may be the time to tweak your strategy and technique to trade with more confidence.
You can also consider out-of-work skills as well like learning an instrument or new language.
Tip #4: Help all of this along with some alarms
Just as you might set an alarm for a specific price point, use them for their original intention and allow them to alert you to a particular time of day. This is perfect for breaks, start and finish times, and deadlines. The hours (and days) may be starting to blur into one, so a little help to shock you out of your screen-staring slumber goes a long way.
Tip #5: Mitigate distractions
There are a lot of reasons to keep an eye on social media these days, but keep in mind it is designed to distract you. We recommend turning off any non-vital push notifications for apps like Facebook, Twitter, and anything else that will take away from your productive work time.
We have plenty more downtime right now, so use that to respond to messages. Put your phone in another room if necessary, and align it with a good excuse to have a break and get up from the desk.
Tip #6: Mindfulness and wellness
These aren’t just buzzwords; it’s essential now more than ever to keep a healthy mental and physical state. This will not only help while trading but will also help to process the non-work related amounts of information we are digesting on any given day.
Meditation apps like Headspace can be a great way to keep your sharp and present when trading. If your mind starts wandering, take a break, eliminate all the unimportant information in your mind, and come back focussed.
Tip #7: Define your trading plan
You are no doubt aware that if you plan your trades and then trade your plan, things will go very well. Deviation from the times you’ve researched to pull the trigger can cause a range of problems.
Patience is crucial for all traders; don’t let temptation allow you to jump the gun.
Tip #8: Get a good night’s sleep
This is a rule that applies to all aspects of life, not just our current COVID-19 situation. Quite simply, your brain needs a break, with adverse effects both mentally and physically if it doesn’t get it. It is recommended that you have a recovery time of between 6-8 per night to work at your best the following day.
All-nighters to trade at every hour is a bad idea, and you can’t stock up on sleep via naps later, it doesn’t quite work that way, unfortunately.
Tip #9: Select productive tasks as time-fillers
If you are waiting for a price point or time, select a number of tasks that will improve your trading, like performing a review of your previous trades or journal to assess their effectiveness.
You can also study more price action, test a new strategy, or refine your trade and risk management criteria. Never let it distract you from the task at hand, but also time that is not spent actively trading should never be wasted just staring at charts. A well-planned day resolves this as well.
Tip #10: Fuel your motivation
Motivation is a necessary element to get started, turning it into a habit is the best way to keep going. Always keep whatever it is that is motivating you in front of mind. If you follow the other tips above, keeping motivated should be easy!