Tag Archives: Focus

Background Music for Focus

Over the years I've traded with various different forms of background music or noise, with the aim of finding that right combination that allows me to work with a positive and confident attitude and laser-like focus.

Not surprisingly, I guess, what works best tends to vary from time to time with my prevailing mood.

I've tried everything…

  • My favourite sing-along playlist – good when feeling a bit flat and needing some "pick-me-up"; accepting that it can at times distract a bit too much.
  • High energy punk and hardcore – sometimes I find that aggression is the only thing that can get me focused.
  • Binaural beats and Isochronous Tones – I can't vouch for the scientific claims, but it certainly relaxes me and I feel that focus improves.
  • Guided visualisations – again they're just brilliant for relaxation and focus.
  • Favourite webinar recordings – make sure they're repeats so you don't get distracted by any new info.
  • Motivational YouTube videos – there are tons of them. Give it a try. The intent is not to actively listen to the speech though – it's background noise only!
  • And of course silence – sometimes there is nothing better!

But more often than not over the last year my default has been ambient music.

You can find some great music via online streaming radio such as provided here: http://www.internet-radio.com/stations/ambient/. My usual preference is for AmbientRadio.org (the first on the list) and Chilltrax (about half way down the list).

But I continue to experiment.

Right now I'm also liking white noise. Try this for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNqERBWaJeM

I'll update this page if I ever find anything new.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear what you play in the background while trading. Feel free to comment below if you have any favourites that you use to provide a positive and focused mindset.

Cheers,

Lance Beggs

PS. There were of course some failures as well. In particular I find that background news and TV are just too distracting. They will likely never play a part in my trading room again.


Improving Focus – The Essential First Step

 

For the last year or so my trading computer has been on a desk just to the left of my work computer.

This has been fine except during quiet periods of price movement, when I've often found myself tempted by the work computer. All I have to do is turn to the right and it's within reach.

"I'll just check emails or facebook. It'll only take a second!"

Usually this is fine but occasionally I'll become so absorbed in whatever I'm looking at that I don't realise five or more minutes has passed without watching price.

The good news is that there was a simple fix, which has allowed me to maintain focus on price. I'll get to the solution just below. But let's talk in general terms first, because the solution works for many other causes of loss of focus.

How do you maintain optimal focus in a world full of distractions?

How do you maintain optimal focus in a world full of distractions?

The internet will provide many exercises on willpower and mindfulness, which should help with any focus issues you may have. These are great. But they're not the first step.

The first step is not to work on your focus. The solution is much simpler.

(more…)

Sometimes you need TIME-OUT

 

No… not the naughty chair. This is not a punishment.

Sometimes you just need to separate yourself from the screen.

Get away from the computer. Get some fresh air. Relax and refresh the mind and come back to start again.

Like a reboot for the trader!

Sometimes you need time-out

(more…)

How I Maintain Focus

EMAIL QUESTION:

My question is, "how does one stay focused while watching charts waiting for trade setups?"

Lance, my mind wanders while staring at charts waiting for setups. If I could take to the bank the number of trades I missed while NOT paying attention to the charts, I would be making a healthy income.

I've missed many trades wandering off. We all hear often about trader focus; but how does one achieve this??

REPLY:

(more…)

Improve Your Trading Focus through the use of Aviation Scanning Techniques

Here's something for the short timeframe swing traders and scalpers to try, in an attempt to improve your ability to sustain your focus and attention and to ensure that you do not miss critical information at the most important times within your trading routine.

Consider where your attention needs to be during key time segments (eg. price in setup area, entry and early trade management, ongoing trade management) and then set up standard scan patterns.

This concept comes from my aviation background. The primary means of maintaining an aircraft in a safe flight attitude is through being able to see the horizon outside the aircraft. At night or in cloud the pilot loses reference to the horizon, so needs to make use of information available through their flight instruments. Failure to do so can result in loss of control, sometimes within seconds.

Pilots are taught to immediately start scanning the instruments upon loss of external visual reference.

While there are several scanning methods available, one of the most common is a Selective Radial Scan, where attention is primarily maintained on the Attitude Indicator, and branches out to one supporting instrument at a time, returning always to the Attitude Indicator before scanning elsewhere. This reduces the chance of fixation upon any of the less important secondary instruments, maintaining greater awareness and ensuring faster response to unexpected changes in attitude.

(more…)

Trading Problems – Maintaining Focus

I once heard a statement by Rebecca Fine of www.scienceofgettingrich.net that says something along the lines of “If what you’re thinking about isn’t something that you want to have happen in the next three minutes… get rid of the thought and think something else.”

While that’s a great way to live your whole life, and I certainly try to do so, it equally applies to the process of trading, specifically ensuring that we maintain focus during the conduct of our analysis.

Maintaining focus can be difficult. Not only will you face distractions from external sources, such as the phone ringing right during a prime setup, or your partner asking for a lightbulb to be changed, or your children asking for help with their homework, but you also face internal distractions from your negative fear-based trading mindset. These internal distractions may be less obvious to the novice trader, but the results can be devastating for your profitability.

If you have not yet mastered your negative fear-based trading psychology, then you are going to face never ending distractions that divert your focus from the job at hand – consistent implementation of your trading plan.

Regardless of how these fears manifest within your trading – complacency, boredom, doubt, procrastination, denial – they will lead only to inconsistent and unprofessional application of your trading plan. And that cannot lead to long term consistent profits.

How do we deal with this negative fear-based trading psychology? Well, that subject cannot be addressed in one article. I’m currently working on a complete home-study program on the mastery of trading psychology, which will provide you with the tools, strategies and techniques for overcoming these issues.

However in the meantime this statement from Ms Fine provides you with a really simple tool to add to your trading toolkit, to ensure you maintain focus during your analysis despite any internal or external distractions.

The process is similar for both long term traders and short term traders. But let’s talk short term first, because that’s primarily what I do.

As a day trader, your success comes from consistent application of your trading plan. Success comes from conducting analysis on a regular basis throughout the trading session, either on the close of each candle or on a price-alert as price reaches a certain preset level, and then acting appropriately to enter, manage or exit your trades.

What do you need to do to ensure that your focus remains on the process of trading?

Here’s what I do:

  1. Document the analysis and decision making process. Have clearly defined actionable steps that you need to carry out every candle to reach your decision to hold, enter, exit, or adjust your stop loss or profit targets.
  2. Set an alarm to go off prior to every candle. If I trade off 5 minute charts, I have an alarm go off 30 seconds before the close of each candle to allow me to pause and check my thoughts. If my thoughts are not related to the objective analysis of the market and the correct implementation of my plan, then they’re discarded. My focus is then returned to the documented trading process.

This works regardless of timeframe. If I was trading off one hour charts, I’d set an alarm to activate just prior to the close of each one hour candle. If I was trading off one minute charts, I’d still set an alarm to go off just before the close of each one minute candle. If I was just waiting for a price setup at a particular price level, and had no intentions of trading until price hit that level, then I’d just set an alarm for price hitting that target.

Setting an alarm for timeframes of 15 minutes upwards is certainly a great idea, as you won’t necessarily be sitting watching the screen the whole time in-between candles. However, you might ask whether it’s really necessary for very short timeframes, such as one minute charts. The fact is though, that it is necessary, and it does work. It is amazing how often I find my mind wandering elsewhere. More often than not, it’s thinking about something unrelated to my trading plan. The alarm interrupts this thought pattern, and allows a return of thought and focus to what’s important.

Try it, and if you find yourself suddenly wondering what the MACD shows, and it’s not part of your plan, discard that thought – it’s irrelevant to this trade. If you find yourself suddenly thinking that you need to win this next trade to get back to breakeven, discard that thought – it’s irrelevant to this trade. If you find yourself wondering where you should go next holidays, discard the thought. Once again, it’s irrelevant. Interrupt any unwanted thoughts, and think something else that will help you trade your plan in a consistent manner.

Oh, and so that you don’t burn out through having an alarm go off every minute for an eight hour trading session, let’s add a step 3:

  1. If you are trading a very short timeframe, program breaks into your session, to get away from the markets. Relax, recharge and refresh yourself, so that you can keep up this pace.

For longer term traders, let’s say someone trading off daily charts, the problems are the same. In your case, you have a process that needs to be followed to come up with your decisions to enter a trade, exit a trade, or modify target or stop levels.

In this case, you still need to implement step one, documented actionable steps that allow for consistent application of your plan. Consider something like a checklist, or flowchart.

You can probably dispense with the alarms, as you only need to complete the process once. However for longer term traders, I’d recommend including statements within your documented process to remind you to check your thoughts, and return them to the process of trading.

Perhaps prefix every step with a documented reminder such as, “I am a professional trader, and a professional trader trades their plan in a consistent manner”. Then, the act of commencing each step of your nightly analysis, will serve as a regular interrupt to unwanted thoughts, and a return of your focus to the job at hand.

This way, there’s no need to be going and checking other indicators for further confirmation, when it’s not part of your plan. There’s no need to be checking other news sources for further justification of your decisions, when it’s not part of your plan. There’s no need to be emailing or phoning your friends to seek their thoughts on a particular stock or chart, when it’s not part of your documented process. These are actions of people who have lost focus, and whose trading destiny is being led by their fear and greed.

As a professional trader, you simply follow your steps. And use your alarms, or documented checklist steps, to interrupt any unwanted thoughts, and return your focus to the business of trading.

So, if you don’t already have a checklist or flowchart set up for all actions that must be carried out during your analysis, then create one. And place in it reminders to monitor your thoughts, and reject anything that is unrelated to the current task at hand.

And if you day trade, set up an alarm, either price based if you simply wait for price to hit certain levels before making trading decisions, or a countdown timer if your decisions are time-based. Then reject any thoughts that are unrelated to the process of trading. And follow your plan with consistency.

Wishing you happy, and focused, trading,

Lance Beggs.