Cultivating a positive mindset requires stress management. The less stress you feel, the more energy you can devote to trading in a peak performance mental state. Time pressure is a significant source of stress. When you feel that you have too much to do and not enough time to do it, it will eat up precious psychological energy that you need to devote to trading. It’s vital that you ease time pressure and free up wasted psychological energy.
One of the most effective ways to cope with time pressure is to change your time perception. Time perception is the degree to which people perceive their use of time as structured and as contributing to a specific goal or set of goals. The more people perceive their time as structured and their actions as aimed toward a specific purpose, the less stress they experience and the more satisfied they feel. As a trader, it is useful to gain awareness of how you perceive time and make sure that you see your actions as meeting specific trading goals.
Trading has advantages compared to most jobs. Traders are free to work on their own terms. They don’t have to satisfy the expectations of supervisors or punch a time clock. As bothersome as these constraints may seem, however, they do have some advantages. In many traditional work environments, time is well structured, and the purpose of work tasks is relatively straightforward. A clear routine is set and it’s easy to follow. Trading can also be structured and meaningful, but there is a danger of these important psychological elements being lost when one embarks on a trading career. Novice traders, especially, may not organize their trading activities in the same way as they would for a traditional job. They may not follow a strict routine, set clearly defined goals, or try to meet specific deadlines. For some traders, time may seem to slip away. When this happens, one may feel as if he or she has accomplished very little during the day, and eventually, this can produce uneasiness and stress.
Do you feel that your time is basically without structure? Do you feel as if you put in a lot of effort, yet are not making adequate progress toward your goals? When you look back at your daily activities, do you question what you are working toward? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you probably feel time pressure and may have a problem with time management. You may feel confused and unorganized, and this may produce unnecessary stress. If you have a problem with time management, you may want to try a few simple time management strategies to structure your time and relieve some of the time pressure.
An important step is setting clear priorities. Your priorities as a trader, however, should be based on whether you are a novice or advanced trader. A novice trader, for example, should devote a fixed amount of time to learning about new trading strategies, while a more seasoned trader may know which specific methods he or she will use and can devote less time to this activity. It is also important to set a specific amount of time aside for each goal; otherwise, you may spend all your time on one goal at the expense of others. For example, one cannot merely study trading strategies without testing them out in the markets, so it is important to set aside time for both learning about new strategies and actually trading them.
However you spend your time, it’s essential that you set time limits for each goal, and that you monitor the amount of time you spend on each one. As you systematically complete each task, you will naturally reward yourself, and at the end of the day, you will feel that you have achieved a meaningful goal. And in turn, you will find that you will enjoy the process of trading. Rather than merely looking at the equity in your account as the all-important gauge of your performance, you will gain a feeling of mastery just by completing various tasks you deem as valuable for developing your skills as a trader. Everything will start to feel as if it is coming together into a whole.
It’s important to view time as structured and as having a purpose. This perception can be maintained if one uses time management techniques, such as listing specific goals, ranking each goal in terms of your priorities, setting deadlines for each goal, and rewarding oneself when the goal is completed. When you perceive your time is structured, you will feel less stress and feel more satisfied with your overall trading experience. And this in turn will help you cultivate the positive mindset you need to trade profitably and consistently.