Trading Psychology: Rewire Your Brain for Maximum Performance in Today’s Markets

By Scott Redler

Chapter 9:  Why You Need a Daily Routine You Love

“Discipline equals freedom.”
-Jocko Willink

I once heard that Silicon Valley entrepreneurs wore the same clothes every day to combat decision fatigue. Or maybe they just wanted to be like Steve Jobs, who wore black turtlenecks every day. Anyway…

Why wear the same outfit every day? So you make fewer decisions. That makes a lot of sense to me. Because as a trader, I have to make hundreds or thousands of decisions every day that can make or cost me tremendous amounts of money. I can very easily make a wrong turn and go $100,000 in the hole.

So if I can take something off my mental plate, I do it. Even if it’s as small as where I park my car.

Now, how exactly do I take things off my plate? I have a routine.

One of my colleagues at T3 Live once said “Scott is a freight train. He is on rails going full-speed ahead and he does not turn.” I'm not sure if that was a compliment or an insult...

I wake up at the same time every day. I eat the same breakfast and drink the same coffee. I try to get the same parking spot at Dunkin’ Donuts. I do charts in a very specific sequence starting with the SPX and QQQ’s. I work out at the same time every day. I listen to the same music playlists.

I’ve created 5,000+ newsletters and videos over the past 10 years and they haven’t changed much. I’m talking about different stocks today than I was in 2007… but “the bones” remain the same. I found a strategy and routine that works for me and my subscribers, so why change?

You could say I’m“on rails” because I am so rigid with my routine. But that rigidity results in flexibility because my energy is conserved for making fast decisions when I have real money on the line. 

You can waste a lot of your energy figuring out how to spend your energy. A daily routine eliminates that problem.

Want more energy for trading? Then follow a routine so you don't have to figure out where to put your energy #tradingpsychology

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A daily routine also gives you a blue-collar mentality. You understand that every day you just show up and do the work the same way a carpenter or plumber does. That eliminates a destructive “lottery ticket” mentality. And over time hard work just becomes normal.

So what does an effective daily routine look like?

Well, you have to list out all the things you want to accomplish in a day. This can go beyond market-related stuff. You should include exercise, eating, family time, and whatever else you want to get done. And then you have to put everything together in a way that makes sense for you. 

I recommend starting your day early. You have more time to settle in before the open. And you feel more confident because you get that “I’m doing what most people won’t do” feeling. If you’re not a morning person by nature, try moving your alarm up by 15 minutes once a week to get used to waking up early. Many people find that once they’re used to waking up early, they never go back to late starts.

I can’t recommend an exact sequence of things for you to do every day, though I’ll list my personal routine below so you can understand how I manage my day. The key is to focus on flowing from one activity to the next without distractions. Let’s say you decide you decide to start your day by doing the following three things:

  1. Check overseas markets 
  2. Go over US stock futures and commodities prices
  3. Scan the early movers

You really must do these activities in order every day. You can’t look at overseas markets, and then head to YouTube to watch movie trailers.

If you follow your routine every day, two things will happen to you

  1. You’ll have more energy because you won’t waste it figuring out what to do next. 
  2. You’ll be more efficient because you’ve eliminated distractions. You might be shocked at how much you get done.

Can a routine hurt you? Anything is possible. But over the long run, the benefits of increased efficiency and energy far outweigh the random trades I might miss.  

Now let’s go through my routine:

4:45 a.m.: Wake up, pick up my iPhone, and Tweet out “Good morning.” Then I head downstairs to check the futures, let my dog Cadence out, and drink a big glass of cold water. 

4:50 am: Turn on the sauna so it heats up, and keep looking at the overnight action.

5:15 am: Head in the sauna and do 500 biceps curls with 10 pounds weights while I play motivational videos. 

5:30 am: Read research reports

5:45 am: Take a quick shower and get dressed

5:55 am: Leave the house

6:00 am: Pull into Dunkin Donuts for a large iced coffee with skim milk. I always try to park in the same spot.

6:20 am: Begin updating my charts for the day.

6:30 am: Start my #630club morning video to help our global community prepare for the day.

7:00 am: Mark up charts and start writing the Redler Report newsletter for paying subscribers while playing music in the background.

8:15 am: Broadcast my Redler Report Morning Call video where I lay out what I’m watching in 30+ stocks, indices, ETFs, and crypto currencies.

9:00 am: Perform my final prep work for the market open

9:30 am: The market opens and I begin trading while broadcasting in my Alpha Team room on T3 Live’s Virtual Trading Floor®

11:45 am: Put my stops in, and leave the office to take a Peloton class. 

12:30 pm: Jump back in the sauna, and then take a cold shower.

2:00 pm: Return to my trading desk.

3:15 pm: I’m back on the mic on the Virtual Trading Floor® and trading the close.

4:15 pm: Broadcast my Redler Report Daily Recap video where I go over the day. 

4:45 pm: Wrap up for the day and head home.

That’s what I do on 90% of my trading days. My workday can go longer if the market is volatile, if I have media appearances, or if we’re in earnings season. And if there are opportunities early in the morning, I do some premarket trading.

My routine might look odd to you. And it should seem weird, because it’s mine. Productivity experts will tell you not to look at your phone first thing in the morning, but it works for me. Doing 500 biceps curls inside a hot sauna while watching motivational videos about samurais may sound silly to you. But to me, there’s no better way to gear up for the day.

There are some areas where I’m looser. My lunch habits are all over the place. Sometimes I’ll eat a steak sandwich and grab a beer. Other times I eat nothing. It’s all about how I feel on each particular day.

Here’s the key: I don't care about how strange my routine looks. I only care about my results in three categories:

  1. How much money I’m making
  2. How my body feels
  3. How my mind feels  

And I’ve found the formula that works for me. 

I don't care about how strange my #trading routine looks. I only care about how much money I make and how I feel :#tradingpsychology

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But there’s another angle you must think about. Experts in just about every field will tell you that you need a routine, but one factor that doesn’t get factored in is your happiness. If you don’t enjoy your daily trading routine, you’re never going to follow it.

I’m an outlier because I actually like every part of my routine. But you don’t need to hold yourself to that standard. At the very least, you need to mix in enough things that make you happy, even if they don’t seem to make sense on the surface. If going bowling every day at 11 in the morning improves your mindset, just do it. And just so it’s said: I’m not advocating doing anything self-destructive like gambling, heavy drinking, or drug use. Obviously!

This also ties into work ethic. I’m pretty sure you know when you’re working hard and when you’re not. If you enjoy your routine and it helps you make progress as a trader, you’ll find yourself more naturally willing to go that extra mile. 

Now, I think I’m a pretty hardworking guy. But maybe I just love what I do…

Action Item: Create Your Daily Trading Routine

Write out a daily routine. Then print it out and put it by your trading turret. Follow your routine every day for the next 30 days and see how it changes your mood and energy level. Then, tweak your routine to make it better.

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