In my opinion, the second biggest challenge that you face in your online forex, stock commodity or futures trading is distraction.
Now, I say the second biggest challenge, because the first challenge is to know what the heck you are doing in the first place! Frankly, if you don’t know that- and most beginner and many intermediate level traders really don’t- then you’re going to need all the distractions you can get to keep you away from the markets so that you don’t keep losing your money!
However, assuming that you do know what you are doing in the markets and have a sound plan, then the next major challenge that you face is distraction. It goes back to what we have discussed about the need for mental focus. However, the issue of distraction is wider ranging. When we spoke about focus, we were talking about the need to focus within all the vast variety of choices available to you in the trading world.
With distractions, the issue is much wider and potentially worse still. Here, we are talking about literally everything that can distract you from your online trading. If you are a private trader working from your home, this can be an endless list; the postman, your cat, the need to get some bills paid,the shopping,the fact that it’s a sunny day and you’d rather be outside,surfing the internet, checking your email, the telephone, odd jobs around the house, and so on. If you are in this position, I am sure you can add to the list.
Even if you are an investment bank trader, there are still plenty of distractions. Some of the above- email and the internet for example still apply- and there are others. Chatter from your colleagues, meaningless bullshit meetings that you must attend and are not allowed to get out of, the endless stream of media “information” and more.
At least for the institutional trader, it is understood that trading is a business. It is literally his/her job. There is daily accountability involved and it cannot therefore be mistaken for a hobby and treated as one. However, for the person working at home, this is a much easier mistake to fall into, especially at the very start, when you may not have decided upon your trading routine.
Speaking personally, I have to say that distraction is something that I have a big problem battling against, since I do operate from home. The problem is that if your mind is not totally focused upon what you are doing in the financial markets, and getting the process right, the margin for error quietly widens and things can start to go wrong.
The key point to come back to is that trading has to be a business, if it is intended to be your primary source of income for yourself and your family. If that is the case, then it is imperative that you treat it with the seriousness that it deserves. That means that even though you may be working for yourself at home, you need to impose some business disciplines that you would find in a standard office environment.
If at all possible, you should establish for yourself a separate room for your online trading. Wherever possible, you need to give very serious thought to closing the door to family and pets in order to concentrate on what you are doing. (Now, I know that this is hard because my two cats basically have total access to me, and I can’t see that changing. But as the saying goes: do what I say, not what I do!)
Let’s not forget that neither your friends, your pets, nor your family would have access to you if you were working at an office job somewhere, would they? Hence, closing the door closes out an enormous source of distraction.
Use effective time management principles to deal with other distractions. In other words, schedule other things that need to be done appropriately so that they do not interfere with your trading. Maybe you need to fix upon a time when you check and deal with your email once in the day, or at most twice, but you certainly do not keep looking at it every five minutes or so.
Do you know what constantly checking your email all the time is like?
It’s like going to your front door every few minutes to see if there is anyone there! Did you ever think of it like that? Well, if you would never do that, why check your email every 5 minutes?!
What’s the big deal? Well, it takes time away from you focusing upon your business, which is trading, not email checking or chatting idly. When you break your focus, then it takes a certain period of time to restore it. If this keeps happening the whole time, your mind is working hard just to stand still, i.e. to keep getting back to where it left off last time.
That is why it is so vital to get this under control. If not, it is not the trading that is exhausting you, so much as the sheer amount of clutter that you have allowed to invade your own brain. They say that failing to plan is planning to fail. Hence, starting today, sit down and plan out what you can do to minimize the distractions during your trading day. Consider the email challenge. Consider too scheduling certain activities together, e.g. make all of your outgoing calls at the same time, when you go out to the shops, make sure that you get that post office visit done too. Try to handle pieces of paper that come onto your desk once, and don’t keep coming back to them over and over again.
This is all about organizing you, and you are unique. Hence, it is impossible for me or anyone else to give you a list. You have to come up with it yourself, and then go to work to reduce the distraction to your trading. I’ve given you a broad hint in what we have been discussing, but it is ultimately down to you.
Remember, your online trading is a business, not a hobby. It will ultimately, if it is not already, be your primary source of income and that upon which your family depends. Hence, you owe it both to yourself and to them to get serious and to get professional, no matter whether you trade from home or on the proprietary trading desk of the biggest firm on Wall Street.
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