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?
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.
First you should see if you can eliminate the distractions, or separate yourself in some way from their influence.
Yes, it seems so obvious. But it's amazing how long I put up with the distraction of the other computer, before coming to the blindingly obvious realisation that I just needed to remove myself from that distractor.
How did I ensure I am not tempted by my work computer during quiet periods of price action? I simply rearranged my room so that the two computers are at opposite sides and facing different directions. I could still go there if necessary (it acts as a backup in case of computer failure during the session). But it's several steps away now. A much greater conscious effort is required to reach it. And I find that is enough to keep me focused on price.
Are you distracted by your cell phone (mobile phone)? Turn it off. Or place it in another room altogether. Or if you need it as a means of backup contact with your broker, then place it on silent and put it in a drawer out of site.
Are you distracted by pets? Close the door. Or move them to another section of the house prior to starting the session!
Are you distracted by external noise? Close the doors or windows. Or use an air-conditioner for some background noise to block out the distraction.
If anything distracts you on a regular basis, your first step is not to work on your ability to focus.
TO INCREASE FOCUS,ELIMINATE THE DISTRACTION!
OR SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM IT'S INFLUENCE.
Good stuff. It reminds of when Al Brooks talks of dealing with distractions (close the blinds, turn off the phone, etc.) by referring to himself as a ‘trading hermit.’ He also makes sure there are no influences from financial TV shows like Fast Money, Squawk Box, or others. To paraphrase:
“The host of the show will invite a bear on to explain the markets one day, and a bull to explain the markets the next day. Both will make reasonable cases. But who is right?”
I think of TV, newspapers, CNBC.com or any other site as an indicator or crutch that can linger in the back of your mind, quietly haunting you as you make decisions contrary to the bull or bear case on TV. Who’s right? If the TV is shut off, then I am.
Absolutely agree 100% with you and Al Brooks. Financial Media exist for entertainment, not information. As a trader, it’s nothing but a distraction. Eliminate it!
So far, I have tried to train myself to put up with distractions and do my regular work, but after reading this article I decided to eliminate it first.
Thanks Sakthi, I’m glad you found value in this article. 🙂
All the best,