Have you ever wonder how’s life as a professional trader? A lot of people thought that traders are there to make lots of cash and have a Friday night with pretty ladies, sport car, great dinner and so on. Little do they know that, on Friday night (yesterday 26th Aug) when everyone is having T.G.I.F, happy partying or great dinner with their loved one, traders like us were sitting in front of our laptop and awaiting the lady that decide the market direction, Janet Yellen speech at Jackson Hole.
Below article is a great insight from my trader friend, who trades for living for almost 4 years. He will be sharing with us hows life of a professional day trader look like.
So you want to be a professional trader? Have you made up your mind what exactly that entails, how your day will look like, and what style you are going to be trading? Daily charts, 4-Hour charts, tickcharts? How much time are you going to invest, what will your preparation and postprocessing look like? Where will you do it, when will you do it, what tools are you going to use?
How do you ensure keeping up your mental health and a sufficient work-life balance? Are you going to do sports, how much time will you spend with your family and friends? What will your office look like? There are TONS of questions you have to answer before even thinking about making the step to full-time trading. These questions can usually be categorized in a) what do you want out of trading? and b) how do you organize yourself to get what you want?
You have to have a very clear picture in your mind of how your life as a trader is going to look like, just as you need to have a very clear picture of what your trading is going to look like.
I think many people have a romantic view of what life as a full time trader looks like, whereas if you don’t bring the discipline you will simply drown in panic and swallow all your savings in a few weeks. This job is not for the faint-hearted. You have to know yourself very well, as you are entering a relationship with the markets that will impact your daily life from social relationships to how you feel in general in both good or negative ways, depending on how you take on this task. It will change you as a person, and it will teach you a lot about yourself. If you let it, the market will swallow you. If you tame it, the market will make enable you to do and feel things you never even dreamed of before.
You have to be willing to go into this 100%, your whole life has to be aligned towards success in the markets, or you are indeed wasting your time. That does not mean that you won’t have time for other things. You just need to be very organized, and incredibly disciplined. There is NO time for aimless laziness, bumming around on Youtube or social media, or whatever. You have to be able to say NO to ANYONE when it comes to your main trading times. These 3-4 hours a day are HOLY and NO ONE can interfere with that. Close the door, put on your headphones, and forget about the rest of the world. There is NO multi-tasking. Only you and the markets. Do ONE thing at a time, but do it RIGHT. When you hang out with your friends, don’t look at your crappy phone. And when you hang out with the markets, don’t talk to your crappy friends (;-)). Just because you are at home does not mean you are ready to socialize. This is YOUR JOB. Take it serious, and make it clear to everyone else that if they interfere, you will throw them out. They have to respect that. And you absolutely need to play your strengths while avoiding your weaknesses. Know yourself.
Over the years, I have learned to structure my day in away that allows me to reach absolute peak performance during every single trading session I take. If in a way before starting to trade I feel that I am not at my peak, I simply won’t trade and I will make sure that whatever happened during the day, won’t happen again. With that being said, here is my daily routine.
The early morning routine: always the same
- I make it a point that I do not look at my phone and/or the screen for around 1 hour after waking up. I get up around 7am, make breakfast for my lady, bring her to work, and then go for a run of 5km.
- I come back home, do some yoga and stretching, and a bodyweight workout of around 1 hour. At 9am I am done with sports for the day, unless I have Martial Arts training in the afternoon (2 times per week).
- I then take a shower, and eat breakfast. These 3 steps of my day always look the same pretty much, there is not much change around here.
The late morning routine: switching it up
- Around 10am, I am usually ready to hit the office. I use Wunderlist to organize and remind me of any upcoming things and my daily recurring tasks such as reviewing yesterday’s trades, answering eMails, writing articles, and so on.
- So the tasks I do every day are actually the same, but I do not always do them in same order, or in the same way. This is INCREDIBLY important to me. I am a creative person, and I HATE dullness. If I have to do the same thing every day in the same way, I will get depressed, lose productivity, and not do anything anymore. In order to keep up productivity, I have to mix things up.
- This is easy to do: Sometimes I will just play videogames for 2 hours before I do anything. Or I write an article in the morning, before having breakfast. Or I write it in the evening, after trading. Important is, I get it done. And I get it done when I feel like getting it done.
Lunchtime: Eat, watch, sleep
- Then I take a nap of 20 minutes, every day at the same time actually, this is important as I can doze away in 1 minute and then feel refreshed for the next 10 hours of work – as I am trading in the evening, without this nap, I would be completely useless after 8 pm.
- Working and eating at the same time is a no-go for me. I would rather work longer in the evening than doing so. Food is holy and you have to cherish it. I usually cook something for myself, as eating out everyday makes me go insane and I like to count my calories intake. While eating I watch something relaxing like Let’s Play videos on Youtube.
Afternoon: creative time!
- While in the morning, most of the time I do routine tasks like answering eMails and taking care of administrative stuff like money transfers, talking to our programmers and developers, booking things, buying things, taking care of visas, whatever, etc., in the afternoon I prefer to do the things that require some brainjuice. Interviews, writing articles, reviewing my trades from yesterday, working on my strategy, working on business ideas, and so on. Usually, in the afternoon I am way more productive with these things than in the morning, when my brain is still in “don’t want to work” mode.
- While doing ANYTHING, no matter what, I listen to music and/or podcasts, or Let’s Plays, simply because having some background noise sparks my productivity as well.
Dinner time: light and full of energy
- Social time! During the week, I don’t get much of that, and it’s ok. You have to make some sacrifices if you are going to make it as a trader. It is a lonely business, and there is nothing that will ever change that.
- I pick up my girl from work and go for dinner with her / cook something with her and try to spend quality time. That means no phone, no distractions whatsoever. You are probably starting to get the feeling why I hate smartphones so much: they don’t do anything good to our life. They are good for the map function when traveling, that’s it. I fucking hate them to the core.
Trading time: preparation and full focus
- Before trading, I do a lot of stuff. I look at the trades/session of the previous day. I look at my mantras. I look at the book of worst mistakes I ever made. I look at the best trades I ever took. I look at the market itself, how it went during the day, I get tuned in with the price action. I read the rules of my trading strategy, and I memorize exactly WHY I am trading and WHAT I am lookin for. This takes around 30 m.
- During trading, I put on my headphones and listen to very slow, relaxing music. This takes 3-4 hours, that’s all I trade per day and that’s it.
- After the trading session it is usually around 11pm-12am. I will go up to my rooftop, have a cigar and a whiskey, along with a few snacks as I am always hungry after thinking so much for 4 hours, and reflect on what has happened. A friend of mine is a bartender and will usually join me. We will talk about the day, the world, this life, for about an hour, while enjoying the good things life has to offer. Kind of like Boston Legal (highly recommended if you haven’t watched it ;-)).
- Then I go to bed, read for around 30 minutes, and sleep for around 7 hours. Rinse, repeat, grind.
My daily mantra, stuck to the side of my monitor. This helped me SO MUCH. I never start trading without repeating this a dozen times mentally. On the other side I got my trade checklist and on the wall behind the monitor I printed charts of the textbook trades/setups I am looking for. This is all I need to trade profitably, and I follow it like a religion. If you truly want to trade profitably, you have to be in a relationship with the markets, and it will seem a little bit insane to outsiders. Don’t let that trouble you, we need a bit of mad obsession for the game to become world class, as in every discipline.
So that’s usually my trading day. This goes from Monday to Friday, 16-17 hours of total dedication. On the weekend, I usually take off completely unless something important is going down with TC/EW. Sometimes, I also take Fridays off because there is something special going on like the birthday of a friend. But usually, I will trade 5 days per week (and then still go out on Fridays after 11pm). The important lesson to take away from here is not that you should structure your day like me, but that you should know yourself very well.
If I neglect any of my daily tasks, like writing articles, or playing video games, or doing sports, I will end up with a less than mediocre trading session. Everything I do, is aimed at increasing my performance in the markets. Even playing video games. And that is the important thing to understand: working more does not automatically mean making more money. That is just not true. Creativity and productivity are only achieved through relaxed phases during which your brain can develop and your synapses can epxand. The more money I make with my businesses, the more happiness I can spread in my relationships, the more relaxation I can gain through sports and video games, the more focus and concentration I can gain through nutrition and what I eat, the more money I will make.
My trading system is me and myself. Everything I do is aimed at increasing my performance in the markets, be it relaxing through video games (I only play relaxing games that don’t involve a lot of decision making like ego-shooters), or eating certain foods, or working hard for my other businesses. Everything I do, EVERYTHING aims at increasing my trading performance. And it will pay off. And it does pay off.
In the featured picture of this article I have pinned a picture of the things I read during my pre-session routine. I will post an article on this later down the road. The important thing to take away for now is: Be extraordinary, be smart, be vigilant, be smart, be patient, and you will eventually start making money in this game.
So don’t try to fit your daily routine to my daily routine. It won’t work. Try to find out what makes you tick, what makes you happe, what makes you intense and exhausted, and what makes you relaxed. And then align all that knowledge to one purpose: giving you all the power and confidence you need during your daily trading session. This is how you will start changing life for yourself, your loved ones, and everyone else around you, and there is no other way. This is the only way. Give it your best!
P.S.: When I travel or live in a different time zone, then, of course, this whole schedule will change, as I ALWAYS trade the U.S. session and I will fit my day around that time span, no matter when it is.
Hope that you enjoy the read! Happy trading and investing pals and stay safe!
Credit to : Moritz