This doesn't sound too appealing, does it:
- 10:30pm – Trading Preparation
- 11:30pm – Market Opens – Commence Trading
- 01:00am – Stop Trading – Commence Post Session Review
- 02:00am – Wind-down
- 03:00am – Bed
- 07:00am – Up to get the kids ready for school
Late to bed; and a serious lack of sleep.
And it’s even worse during the six months of US daylight savings, when the market opens an hour later at 12:30am my time. Not nice at all.
Yet it’s part of my current routine. And it’s quite likely a similar routine to many traders across the world, in particular those in the same timezone as I who choose to trade the US markets.
And unless I can convince my wife to move to the US (not likely) or convince the CME to move to Australia (probably more likely than the first option), I’m stuck with this routine.
I recently took a couple of weeks break from this gruelling schedule to trade the Hang Seng Index Futures, instead of the E-mini Russell. It’s a planned move, approximately every quarter, to allow me to repay some sleep debt. But it only lasts a couple of weeks and then I’m back into the daily grind (or should I say nightly grind).
This prompted a request from a reader of my blog to discuss my thoughts on managing trading in a timezone such as we have here, the east coast of Australia (GMT+10).
This is of course just a part of a wider issue, that affects traders all across the world, in particular during their development phase where they have to juggle learning to trade alongside a job and other family responsibilities… how can we best fit trading into life?
How does one best determine their preferred market, timeframe and trading hours, and manage this while still allowing time for work, rest and play.
Yes, it’s easier for me these days, as I can catch up on sleep during the day when necessary. But it wasn’t always the case – I did have a previous career! And yet I managed to always find time for trading.
It’s really a matter of just prioritising all your daily and weekly commitments and needs.
Create a weekly planner. You can find numerous templates through a Google Search. Or create one yourself in Excel.
Block off time for your current commitments – those that are NOT negotiable. Then do the same for those that have a higher priority than trading.
Whatever is left is what you have to work with.
Trust me… having spent a couple of years attempting to trade during the early evening, when I should have been spending some time with my family… I consider myself very lucky to be still married.
Determine your priorities. Fit trading around these priorities. Not the other way around.
Now the less commitments and higher priority tasks you have, the better. For some, you'll have a choice of several times per day when you can trade. For others, it might only be one to two nights per week. Whatever you have is what you have. There's no point complaining. Work with it.
If you can only trade in the evening, say from 9-11pm, then find a market, trading style and timeframe which fits your psychological needs and which can be operated within that block of time. Don't try to force other trading into your schedule, at times which will cause conflict with life.
If you can only trade from 8am-midday, two days a week, then find a market, trading style and timeframe which fits your psychological needs and which can be operated within that block of time. Don't try to force other trading into your schedule, at times which will cause conflict with life.
If you can only trade on the weekend… bad luck, there's no markets yet over the weekend. However allocate some time to trade a session via market replay. And work towards reducing some of your other commitments or adjusting priorities.
And if for any reason you are dissatisfied with your current circumstances, and the little time they leave for trading, then you need to review your current lifestyle choices. Once again… work towards reducing some of your other commitments or adjusting priorities. Set a plan in place to make these changes. It won't be easy. It may not be immediate (such as changing career). But if trading is a higher priority then you'll do whatever is necessary.
Let's look at my situation. I accept of course that it's now better than most. I have a lot of time in which I can choose to fit my trading… either Monday to Thursday 9:00am to 3:00pm, or Monday to Friday anytime overnight from around 10:00pm. Not both… as I need to sleep at some time as well. But I'm blessed to currently have a choice.
Given these blocks of available trading time, it's now a matter of identifying markets, strategies and timeframes which suit my personality and psychological needs. This is of course a massive topic on its own and will not be covered here. But it is largely a process of trial and error. My preference would be to trade the daily sessions (9:00am-3:00pm) however I've found very little to my liking in that time period. The SPI is too slow for my liking. The HSI is too fast. So I've found my best option to be night-shift, trading either the E-mini Russell for an hour or so from its open, or trading the currency futures during the UK/US overlap. The daytime is available for YTC work and/or sleep, as required. And then each 3-4 months I need a period of time back in normal cycle, to properly recover from any building fatigue levels.
Your situation will be different.
Others living on the east coast of Australia may have a job which rules out trading during the local daily session. However they may have a block of two hours from say 5:00pm to 7:00pm which would be available. In this case they may wish to look to trading the UK forex open, or to operating a daily strategy via the stock market, using their two hour block to review open positions, find new trading opportunities and place pending orders for the next day.
Living and working full-time in the UK will offer different challenges. As will living and working in the US. In fact, no matter where you are in the world, and no matter your current life circumstances, there will be challenges in fitting trading around life. The solution is a matter of prioritising all your current commitments and needs. Determine your current best option. Then either work with it or change it. Easier said than done… but that's the reality.
Best of luck,