Successful trading has a lot to do with routine. Many professional athletes follow an established program each day. Even before each and every action–take golfers for example–the athlete has a pre-shot routine that gets them focused on the important things and clears their mind of all the other noise. Traders also benefit from a routine.
Over the last 14 years of trading, I have developed my own routine. Here is my, George Papazov’s, daily trading routine for success.
Why do most people want to trade? More specifically, why do you want to?
It is either to make money or to have more freedom. Most likely both.
When it comes to trading, the typical fantasy assumes that you will be traveling first class, eating fine cuisine every night and driving exotic cars. Oh, and once in a blue moon you will check the computer screen and “place a trade”.
Reality is much different than fantasy. Successful traders are professionals, and live a life full of routine, discipline, preparation, meticulous planning and execution. Instead of Lambos with race seats, we have high back chairs with gel cushions. Instead of expensive dinners, we enjoy the exquisite meal selections of Uber Eats and hastily-prepared lunches during a quiet moment in the market, and our “travel” is the walking between our monitors and the washroom. Welcome to reality.
To be successful in trading you need a plan and discipline. You need a routine.
Here is what my day looks like. Through this article, I hope to inspire you to create your very own routine.
Note that all times are in EST. Make the necessary adjustments for your own time zone.
Daily Trading Routine 1) Reaching Tranquility 6 am
As traders, we live on the edge on a daily basis. Our job is not to execute tasks for which we are evaluated and then paid for, our sole task IS to get paid! Every day we know our value. We work one of the hardest, most demanding jobs in the world. This is why the most important determinant of how our day will go, is how our day will start. I am a firm believer in positive thought and energy.
My trading day always starts with a 10-minute meditation session as soon as I wake up, while I’m still lying in bed. This allows me to restore my positive balance and release any negative energy I may have bottled up. Once I’ve finished my meditation session I head out to the gym for a workout.
I come home and shower around 7:45 am, and settle into my trading office.
At this point, there is likely some fiasco that has taken place overnight, either China devaluing their currency, oil prices collapsing, or possibly both. I won’t find out for another couple of minutes.
Instead of getting right into it, I close my eyes and take three deep breaths. I inhale cold, (imagined) ocean air for 3 seconds, and exhale negativity for 5 seconds. When I open my eyes, I am calm and ready to tackle the trading day with a neutral, unbiased, and optimistic mind frame.
Try reaching tranquility in your trading day and see the difference it can make in your results. This on its own is a large contributor to my daily success, not just in trading but also in my life and relationships.
Daily Trading Routine 2) Session Goal Setting 8:45 am
How much money do you want to make? Very few people have an actual answer to that. Okay, how much do you need? Now divide that by 200 trading days in a year. You now have your goal for today.
I usually aim for US$1,000 – $2,000 on Monday to Thursday, and enough to pay for my lunch on Fridays.
This step is so simple, it is often overlooked.
Write down your figure so you know what you are working towards. If you hit the goal within the first 30 minutes of the trading session, will you still stay at the computer? If so, will you reduce your risk capital per trade? These are the things you need to know before you start each day. Such questions should be answered in your trading plan.
Daily Trading Routine 3) Trade Setups 8:50 am
Now that you have your daily goal, you need to find some good trade setups that will help you achieve it. I start my day by listing my favorite 5 trade setups, be it currency, futures, stocks, or options. Some days, it’s all of the above. It takes me less than 10 minutes to find them as I flip through my watch lists. I grumble and mumble until five jump out at me. I don’t chase them.
Once I have narrowed it to 5 trades, I then narrow it once more to just 3 trades.
From here I review my entry triggers, stop losses, trailing criteria, scaling in and scaling out methodology, and the technicals on the charts.
By this time, it is only 9 am. I like to take the time before the open to express my gratitude for my life, my family and everything I have and love. This sounds corny; I get it….until you do it for yourself every morning for 21 consecutive days, and start to witness your life change. Try it, I challenge you, even on weekends.
It is now 9:25 am and I once again take three deep breaths with slow exhales to help me relax before trading begins. I also do this exercise throughout the day when I feel stress creep in.
The bell rings and the bulls and bears are set free for the epic daily battle. DING DING DING!
From this point forward, it is just a matter of executing my trading plan with laser discipline until I hit my daily target, or the market closes. Some days I enter trades earlier than 9:30 am, especially if they are currency or futures positions. These early entries can happen before I head out to the gym, but never before I get my meditation and deep breathing exercises completed.
Daily Trading Routine 4) Scorecard 4 pm
Some people start trading because they think they can get away from having a boss. Well, they are wrong. Your new boss is you. And if you thought you hated your old boss, I have news for you, your new one may actually be worse!
The scorecard session occurs once I meet my daily goals and decide to stop trading, or the session closes for the day at 4 pm.
The scorecard is exactly what it sounds like. I give myself a grade, from A+ to F. How did I do on each trade? How did I do on the whole day? What did I do well and what do I need to work on?
I include screenshots of each trade and commentary as a summary. Some days I will hang my report card on the fridge with a nice little magnet, but rarely do I get A+ all across the board. I am pretty hard on myself some (most) times. Honesty is the first step to progress.
Daily Trading Routine 5) Takeaways
After the scorecard is completed I find some takeaways that I can use to improve my trading or other aspects of my life. What did I learn today while trading? What did I learn as a human? Are any of these lessons actionable, or should they be?
If there are no takeaways, no big deal, call it a good day. If there are, park them in your trading notebook and revisit these takeaways every couple of days to maintain progress and focus on them.
If any of these takeaways require that you or your trading change, start working on an action plan. Decide when you will follow up and get to work. No takeaways means no growth, and no growth is no good.
Final Word on the Daily Trading Routine
That is my exciting daily routine as a trader. In one way I ruined your dreams of quick riches, travel, and unleashed freedom. But my intention was to show you the reality of what is necessary to become a successful day trader with consistent profits.
Remember, the human mind is conditioned to find routine and patterns in everything we do. It is conditioned to automate and create processes on a subliminal level. So stop cheating your brain and give it what it wants.
Try this routine out for size, and feel free to adjust it to fit your schedule and lifestyle. Let us know how it works for you!
Lastly, all of this daily trading routine stuff does not mean you need to be a hermit and avoid fun. Quite the contrary. I love to regularly treat myself and my family. Routine and structure provide the resources to do that. No routine and no structure means fewer resources and a lot more stress…not good!
Most of us trade to live, and do not live to trade. Remember to enjoy yourself and keep things fun. It’s all about finding balance.
Good luck and good trading.
Written by George Papazov
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George has over fourteen years of trading experience in currencies, stocks, futures, and options. In 2012, he founded TRADEPRO Academy to offer traders a complete development package.