For some reason a lot of non-day traders think they have to spend all their time in front of the screens.  This is the case even when things aren’t going all that well.  The fact is that many traders would be better served spending their time doing additional research instead of focusing on the tick-by-tick moves in the market.

Peter Brandt issues a challenge to less than successful day traders to step away from the screens.  He proposes an experiment to see just how much your intraday executions are hurting your profits.  He writes:

Keep the log for a period of three months. After three months compare the performance of the hypothetical account to your real account. If your real account does consistently better based on your intraday decision making, then this is a sign that your constant attention to the markets during the day provides a value added to your performance.

Robert Sinn notes that many days a trader is out of synch with the market.  One thing great traders know is when to push their advantage and when to step away and focus on other things.  He writes:

Most losing traders share the common trait of overtrading and a feeling that they must be engaged with the markets at all times; whereas, the best traders know when to pick and choose their spots very carefully. They are willing to step away from the markets when conditions aren’t right and compelling risk/reward setups are sparse.

Over at Dynamic Hedge there is a great post up talking about the benefit of working on side projects. DH thinks that stepping away and working on research projects unrelated to his core trading can be beneficial.  He writes:

Side projects keep you fresh.  I’m still super passionate about the market so I need somewhere to test my theories and just screw around so I don’t get stuck in a rut.  I’m lucky to have a great trading partner who is just as curious and passionate about the market as I am.

Tyler Craig in a post yesterday talked about whether traders should specialize or diversify.  He comes down on the side of specialization in part because of the effort required to become a trading “jack of all trades.”  Traders need to master a system before moving on to the next one.  The only way to do that is through hard work.  He writes:

In your knowledge acquisition quest, don’t sacrifice specialization. Don’t become a jack of all trades and master of none.

The thread running through these posts is that there is much more to trading than staring at a screen.  Ther is of course the burnout factor.  The simple fact is that most traders need to step away from the screens so that they can think, write and research.  Only by dedicating time to new paths can they come up with novel ways to trade.  Nobody’s trading system is perfect.  So spending some time away from the screens can provide the impetus needed to become a more successful trader.

Items mentioned above:

Traders:  turn off your screens!  (Peter Brandt)

Knowing when to shut your trading down for the day.  (Stock Sage)

On the benefits of working on side projects.  (Dynamic Hedge)

Jack of all trades.  (Tyler’s Trading)

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