“Work Life Balance” can be quite a tightrope walk for anyone. But traders in particular seem to have a reputation for watching their screens 24/7 and ignoring everything else.
There is some truth to this reputation. We traders do tend to always be thinking about our trading, our positions, the markets, economic news, and all sorts of other things. And with today’s high speed computers and internet access, we have even more information coming at us than ever before. The typical trading room looks like something out of NASA Mission Control!
So how do we manage to balance this all-consuming passion, with also having a life, family, friends, etc.?
Without a doubt the best answer is to walk away. Decide when you’re going to be done with your “trading day” and shut everything down, and leave it to the next day. The markets won’t be going anywhere, they will all still be there for you tomorrow. And as the saying goes, “the deal of a lifetime comes along every 10 minutes.”
Realistically this should be easy advice to follow. The best window for trading opportunities is generally when the US markets are open, which is from about 9:30AM to 4PM Eastern Time. Sometimes there is some opportunity in the pre-market early morning before the main markets open, but generally for us, it’s safest to wait until at least 15 minutes past the open to make any trades.
And really the ideal window of time for trading is smaller even than that. Once everyone on the east coast goes to lunch, the market is often not really worth paying attention to. This reduces your realistic opportunity window down to about 9:30AM to noon.
Once you hit lunchtime on the east coast, walk away. Whether you are up or down, you’re done. OK if you want to set a profit target and stop loss and leave them working, that’s fine. But you must step away from your keyboard and screens. Go do something else, anything else. If you sit and keep watching the markets, you will convince yourself you see trading opportunities where none exist.
Do you have other activities you like to do? Hobbies or other interests? Then go do them. Or start a side business outside of trading. Get a dog. Whatever it takes to get you away from the computer and appreciating what your hard-earned money (because trading is hard!) can do for you.
It may not result in a perfect work-life balance, but it’s a big step in the right direction!