How I made the switch from working a “normal” job to trading full-time.
We all know it takes focus and a clear, objective state of mind to trade well. Balance is the name of the game. I trade my best when I’m well rested, well fed, and well organized.
As the saying goes “clean desk, clean mind.” Keeping a well organized and clean workspace can lead to increased productivity and better trading. Here’s how you can get organized and make the transition to full or part-time trading.
A Quick Exercise to Help Get Organized
Take a minute to list all the things that are important to you. List them one by one and pick out your top 3. I will tell you right now trading is NOT my #1 (good health aside) family and friends are.
Balance time in front of screen with enjoying the company of your family and friends. It will make you a better trader and more importantly a happier human being.
How I Got Started in Trading
I first began my trading career back in college at Arizona State. My time was occupied with classes (full-time) and work (part-time) along with simply being a college kid.
I found a swing trading approach to best fit my lifestyle at the time. I would spend a few hours each night doing my research and market analysis, picking the stocks I planned on trading the next day and set my orders.
I would watch the market open and make sure any orders that got filled were appropriately managed with stops etc. then I would monitor the markets during the last hour. That’s it.
This hands-off approach allowed me to be quite successful during this period. Soon after, I developed my day trading methodology and began to incorporate day trading into my already busy work, and life schedule.
(My in-depth day trading setups can be found under the ‘Trading Rules’ tab at the top).
Creating a Structure for Trading AND Working
Swing trading can be a great, low stress, low time commitment method for those confined to a 9-5 day job. If however, you’re looking to cut back your hours in the office and make the transition to trading full-time or day trading part-time I would first recommend reading The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris (I prefer the audio version).
This book helped me streamline many areas of my life and get rid of the time wasters. Once the distractions, miscellaneous to do’s, and other non-productive tasks were out of the way I was able to solely focus on day trading in a clear and objective manor.
The book helped me cut out a lot of the “clutter” in my life and will dramatically improve your productivity at work leaving you more time to trade and enjoy life.
The Most Productive Time to Trade
For those on the West Coast (U.S.) you have the luxury of an early market open (6:30 AM) making it easier to get a few solid hours of trading in before any 9-5 job commitments roll around. I’ve found time around the NYSE open which overlaps the European session to be the most productive and profitable time to trade.
If you don’t live on the west coast and the NYSE open falls during your work hours try cutting back your office hours by 30-40%. “What, how can I do that?”
Simple. Take an inventory of your daily tasks for 5 days then stop doing 80% of the things that are non-productive time wasters. (Things such as constantly checking email, micromanaging small projects, and attending long drawn out meetings with no clear purpose and set plan of action).
This allows you the time to trade. Let’s face it, trading at work doesn’t work. Unless you have an office with a door and can disconnect the phone I do NOT recommend day trading from work.
Making the Switch to Full-Time Trading
Making the switch slowly from working 9-5 to trading full-time is a great way to prove to yourself that you are capable of supporting yourself solely off trading income. Having another source of income at first can be very helpful in alleviating the stress and psychological pressure of trading. This pressure leads to forcing trades and making bad decisions.
Whatever your situation, I’ve found that making the transition to trading as a career is one that should not be rushed. The markets will always be there. Take the time to organize the things that are important to you in your life and incorporate trading into your life in a way that provides the least stress with the most reward. This is when you will be at your best.