One of the best parts of trading is to be able to work according to your own schedule. Frankly, it’s not even work when you love what you do. Yet a “typical” trading day becomes almost boring over time. I say this because your strategy and rules become so ingrained in your subconscious that you simply act the same way in each situation according to your plan.
“Expect the unexpected, and whenever possible be the unexpected”
No matter what the market throws at you, you must always be prepared. The market throws curve balls at you every day and you must be ready for them. Come along with me as I take you through my typical trading day.
(All times are in CST – Chicago Time!)
The trading week begins on Sunday
The trading week really begins on Sunday night. No I’m not trading the Globex market open; I’m doing a bit of prep work for the week ahead. Sunday night is a great time to review the news announcements for the week, read through any weekly forecasts, and go through watch lists.
Most of you know that I trade both the Euro open and the NYSE open using the E-mini S&P and the Eurodollar Futures, this means that I must wake up at 2:00 AM. I have adopted a bi-phase sleep schedule to do so. This means that I sleep for 4.5 hours, wake-up, trade the Euro open, then go back to sleep for another 1.5 – 3.0 hours before waking up again to trade the NYSE open and go about my day.
There is a lot to be said about sleep cycles, more than I care to delve into right now, but from my research (an actual experience) I’ve found that waking up on a 90-min increment such as 4.5, 6, or 7.5 hours results in the most refreshing and satisfying sleep because you are waking up at a completion of a full cycle.
My Daily Trading Schedule
2:00 AM Begin trading at the Euro Open
On a typical trading day. The first thing I do when I wake up (after grabbing some juice and toast) is to see what Germany did in the hour leading up to the European open. Typically the European session will do the opposite of what Germany did. I’ve found this holds true on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings (the meat of the week). Monday and Friday are typically less participation days.
Since it is slow and quiet during the wee hours of the morning I will throw on an audio book or some podcasts to listen to. I find that I am the most productive during this time so I will occasionally work on a blog post or other project if I am waiting for a level to set up it is especially slow (such as right now!)
(I begin Euro open trading on Tuesday morning as Monday is usually uneventful and slow).
5:15 AM Back to sleep for 90-mins
If the Euro session is really slow and I haven’t had any trades by 3:30 I will go back to sleep at 3:45. I try and get to sleep by these two times because it allows me to complete a full one or two sleep cycles by the time I wake up next for NYSE open trading
6:45 AM NYSE open trading begins
I call this NYSE open even though the cash session doesn’t open until 8:30. This starts the main part of my day. I usually feel refreshed and away both times I wake up. After taking my resting heart rate I throw on some clothes, grab a yogurt and some orange juice and hit the office. (Oh yeah, forgot to mention that my office is down the hall from my sleeping quarters, a nice feature to say the least).
I review what has happened since the Euro open and take a quick glance at Reuter’s news headlines. Then I pull up my daily notes and fill out the day’s numbers. I read over my trading rules (again to engrain them into my subconscious), by now this has just become habit, and the trading beings, (or resumes).
(I don’t trade the ES during the first 30-mins because it is erratic as market orders hit the tape).
Resources I use during the trading day
Thinkorswim – for charts
Infinity Futures – for order execution
Microsoft Excel – for recording my trades and market data
StockTickr – for analyzing my trades each day
Forex Factory – for Economic data
Pandora – to listen to techno while trading (keeps me focused)!
BBM (Black Berry Messenger) – for chatting with other traders
10:30 AM Lunch time
This is more of brunch as I will make eggs or some sort of sandwich. I always eat at this time because I found that over the years I almost never had a winning trade on the ES from 10:30-11:00. This is also the Euro close so I like to let things settle out. It’s not worth my time to trade this time frame. If everyone else is at lunch, I should be to.
11:00 AM The home stretch
If Euro has been technical all day I continue trading it until 12:30. I also look for a full trading hour’s only halfway back setup on the ES around 11:45-12:30. This is usually the only setup I will take after 10:30 on the ES, else another larger 15-min setup. I stay away from the micro time frames as most of the time this the slowest and choppiest time of the day.
12:30 End Trading for the day
The first thing to do is congratulate myself for following my rules, regardless of P/L. From there I fill out my trading journal and review all my trades from the day. I rarely trade past 12:30, only if it is a super technical market on the ES in which case I will trade until 2:15 as the last hour again becomes choppy and erratic.
I am constantly reviewing my rules and trade setups.
Between now and 2:00 I work on other projects or tasks that I need to take care of, sometimes it’s running to the post office or bike shop, watching some YouTube videos, or catching up on some podcasts or an audio book.
2:00 PM Workout/Ride Time
I race mountain bikes so 2:00 is my time to ride and train. I’m usually on the bike for 2-3 hours T-TH. This not only acts as a huge health benefit, it breaks up my day and allows me to regroup and reset my systems. Plus I’ve come up with some of my best ideas while on the bike!
5:00 PM Dinner, time to relax
Making a delicious dinner is one of my favorite parts of the day. I’ll usually fire up the grill and put on some chicken, or steaks, or throw some sausage and peppers in the oven (among other sides).
6:00 Market Recap
Now is the time of day where I review the broader market data. I upload my trades directly into StockTickr with the bulk upload tool which saves me a lot of time. I then review ALL the setups for the day and see if there is anything I missed or trades that I took that weren’t valid. If I find that I took all the valid setups for the day it’s been a great day. Once and a while I will miss a setup or over look something that invalidates a trade, but with taking 6-12 trades a day and specific time frames to be looking for setups that doesn’t happen much. or the day.
6:30-8:30 Project Time
This is time I use for working on projects or chatting with traders. Wednesdays I meet with a mastermind group with some local small business owners to discuss our businesses and work to expand them. During the summer this time is filled with sports leagues and some group rides on the bike.
8:30-9:15 PM Time to wind down
I try to get in bed by 8:30 and read some Forbes magazine or a good book so that I can fall asleep by 9:15. Getting to bed by this time, again, lets me get in three full sleep cycles (4.5 hours) before doing it all over again.
I use this exact schedule 3x a week Tues-Thurs. Monday I wake up at 6:45 AM skipping the Euro open session, and Friday I’m done trading at 10:30 and will hit the golf course (in the summer) and gym instead of riding the bike. Friday night it’s time to meet friends for dinner and drinks. My weekend is then filled with riding, races, trips, and other fun activities.
I spend a lot of my time away from trading listening to audio books, talking to other business owners (both trading and other disciplines), and riding my bike. It makes for a great balance and is a lifestyle I love!