If you want to make it as a trader, you need to consider that the time you spend trading and studying the markets is just like having a job. You may do it full-time or part-time, in the evenings and on weekends, but it still should be treated exactly as if it is a job to which you are committed.
Anyone who works at any sort of job has to deal with distractions that can take their mind away from their work, which can sometimes be extremely detrimental to the task you are performing.
But when you work from home, or when you are trading from home, you may be faced with other sorts of distractions that someone who works at a “regular” job does not encounter.
First of all, if you are at home, there are plenty of things that can pull you away from sitting in front of your computer and executing your trading plan. There are chores that need to be done, there are errands that need to be run, there are pets that want to be played with, there is a kitchen full of food that beckons.
You can sleep as late as you want, or take a nap in the middle of the day. You can watch TV and play video games. You can read a book (my personal distraction trap).
In short, there is really nothing that can FORCE you to sit at your computer and work, so you must develop the discipline for yourself. Below are some tips for limiting distractions while trading from home:
The best way to develop the discipline you need to trade successfully from home is though the use of schedules and checklists. You need to define your workday in terms of both hours that you will trade (and do NOT let yourself quit early) and possibly in terms of tasks that you will accomplish. Daily goals are best, but weekly goals will work too.
A second problem can come in the form of others who interrupt you. For many people who work from home, they find that their friends and relatives do not truly understand and respect the boundaries that need to be in place when you work from home. You should not be expected to clean the house or do the yard-work while you are trading. You should not be expected to care for someone else’s child. You should not be expected to drop what you are doing and go shopping just because someone wants you to.
In other words, it will be up to you to ensure that your friends and family respect your trading schedule as you define it, and that they do not interrupt you repeatedly while you are working. If they would not do certain things while you worked in an office somewhere, they should not do it while you are trading from home.
The third way to keep distractions to a minimum is to strictly limit the materials that you allow in your trading environment. The TV should not be on, unless it is tuned to CNBC or Bloomberg. You should have no books or magazines in your office, except if they are trading-related. You should not be surfing websites like Facebook, playing online games, or chatting with friends.
Another thing that definitely zaps concentration is communication. Retrieve and read your emails only once per hour. Use a different ringtone for personal phone calls than the one you use for business calls, and only check your personal voicemail once an hour. When you have to seriously concentrate for a period of time, turn off the phone and the email altogether.
Frequent eating can be a very big distraction for some people. The refrigerator is only a few steps away, and you might not even notice how often you go to the kitchen, until the pounds start piling on. Again, this is when a schedule comes in handy. You might feel stupid, actually writing into your schedule a 10-minute coffee break and a 30-minute lunch break, but it will help cut down all those trips to the kitchen as well as the unintentional overeating.
Trading from home is like any other career in which you work from home. There are huge advantages to such a set-up, but there is some downside to the situation as well. If you want to trade successfully, you will need to develop discipline and organizational skills to keep you on track and productive every day.