Do you work a full-time or part-time job? Are you trying to learn how to trade on top of that? If so, it may feel like you are at a major disadvantageous compared to full-time traders. And in some ways, that is certainly true. Some of the drawbacks of being a part-time trader include:
- Scheduling problems. You may be at work when some of the best trade opportunities arise, or when you want to be monitoring trades you are already in. This can result in missed opportunities and losses.
- Less time to read, research, and test. It is pretty hard to educate yourself and create solutions when you are not able to dedicate more than a couple hours a day (at most) to doing so.
- You are tired all the time. Just working a 9-to-5 grind all on its own can be exhausting. It can fatigue you physically and psychologically. Both can make you want to do nothing when you get home except watch TV and go to sleep. When you add trading on top of that, you may feel like you are flirting with burnout all the time.
- You feel distracted all the time. It is hard to focus on a day job when you are trying to learn how to trade. And it is hard to learn to trade when you are distracted by your day job.
Still, it is possible to trade successfully while you are juggling a part-time or full-time job. And it is just reality for most new traders. The majority of us are not sitting on huge piles of money. We need to continue to make money each day to pay our bills and fund our trading accounts. We do not get the luxury of dedicating ourselves fully to trading. Other traders do it part time, and so can you.
I would actually propose though that there are some advantages to trading part-time over trading full-time. They may not be enough to completely make up for the disadvantages, but they do at least offset them a bit. When you are dealing with a challenging life situation, it is always helpful to recognize the good things that go with it.
Here are some of the benefits of part-time trading:
You will not always be staring at the charts.
One of the most common newbie mistakes in binary options trading is to stare at the charts all day, every day. You can easily get it into your head that this is the only way not to miss an opportunity, and that you are somehow being extra-disciplined by putting all this effort into chart-watching.
Watching the charts addictively like this really does a lot less for you than you might think, and it may even be harmful to your trading. Watching the charts constantly can be very draining and tedious, which can actually stop you from noticing important things. You may notice every little movement but miss the really important ones, because you are not alert. You also can get distracted by those little movements, which brings us to the next point.
You may be less likely to overtrade.
When you watch charts compulsively and notice every price movement, you can start losing perspective on which movements matter, and you may feel like you should be trading all of them. It is common for traders who watch charts all day to also take more trades than they should. You can get bored and start itching for action. And again, you lose perspective. You think that you see a setup where there isn’t one.
Overtrading is one of the most problematic compulsions for traders, and can easily turn into addictive gambling. Avoiding watching the charts all day is not a surefire way to prevent it—you may actually feel more desperate and overtrade more when you can. But for many personality types, limiting chart-watching to a couple hours a day or less can help to reduce compulsive behavior.
You may be forced onto a better timeframe.
When you cannot watch the charts all the time, your schedule may force you to work around that fact by choosing a different timeframe than you may have planned to trade. You might for example start watching the daily charts instead of the one-minute charts, and taking trades with longer expiry times. Why? Because you only need to check them a few times a day. With the one-minute charts, unless your system generates a lot of setups within a short time period, you may have to watch the screen a lot more.
Why is this a good thing? Well, unless you are one of a minority of traders who actually excel at scalping, you will probably be more profitable with longer trades. Longer trades do not require such swift reaction times, and can be easier to manage. They are less volatile and more predictable. There is more data which goes into generating the daily charts, and that means that setups are usually more reliable.
Your mind needs a break from doing the same task all the time.
Trading 100% of the time isn’t really good for anyone. If you tend to behave like a workaholic, you may be tempted to fill all your hours with trading. If you have a part-time day job or a full-time job though, you cannot do this. You are forced to step away from trading for hours at a time and do something else. That gives your mind a forced break. This means you have a chance to refresh your perspective and renew your mental energy. When you come back to the charts, you will be able to focus much better. You will not be dragged down by hours and hours of tedious repetition.
Our minds often need a break to process information. Have you ever noticed how you can study something in the evening, go to sleep, and wake up in the morning understanding it better? Sometimes it is the same thing with a day job. You learn something in the morning, head to work, and come back at the end of the day with all those new neural pathways in place.
This article in Scientific American is a great read if you want to learn more about the science behind this and some of the research studies which have been done on work, rest, productivity, and learning. Our brains need a break to consolidate what they have learned, build new connections, and offer insights.
One great example is a study by psychologist K. Anders Ericsson of Florida State University. Ericsson has spent over three decades studying exceptional performers in a variety of fields (arts, athletics, etc.). He discovered that the highest performers usually do not work more than an hour at a time without a break, and rarely spend more than four hours a day on average practicing or training.
In other words, if you want to become an expert trader, being serious about it does not mean working 12 hour days at the charts. You are actually more likely to succeed by dedicating a few hours a day. If your day job helps you do that and prevents you from overworking on trading, that is a good thing.
You may actually learn something useful from your day job and other obligations which can help you to improve as a trader.
Another reason that it is sometimes good to step away from one thing and do another is that you can gain direct insights by doing so. Binary options trading is very much a process of pattern recognition. That is something which relates to every area of life. You may work in a completely different field for your 9-5 or part-time day job, but that does not mean that you cannot gain valuable insights in your day job which can then in turn make you a better trader. In fact, those insights may be critical connections you would miss if you were trading all day.
Make Adjustments as Needed
Now, hopefully understanding these benefits has given you some perspective and a more positive mindset when it comes to balancing your work with your trading. But in order to make the most of those benefits, you may have to make some adjustments to how you manage your time. A lot of traders who can only trade part-time take the exact wrong approach. They think, “I have to make up for all this lost time, so I need to trade well into the night. I can skip out on sleep if I have to. In fact, I must if I want to make it. If I am not willing to make sacrifices, I do not deserve to succeed.”
You should be able to understand now why this is a faulty approach. The time at work is not necessarily “lost” time at all, and sacrificing sleep (a form of rest) actually can hold you back from becoming an expert, not help you get there faster.
So with all of this in mind, here are a few suggestions for adjusting your trading schedule to accommodate your dual obligations:
Consider starting your day with trading-related activities.
Take a look at the charts if that works for you. Enter a trade if there is one and you have the ability to monitor it at work. Read a book. Research a system. Run a test. Learn something. That way your mind can work on consolidating that information while you work.
While you are at your day job, pay attention to connections.
Sometimes just having trading in the back of your mind during the day and acknowledging that your day job might have something to contribute is enough to actually glean insights you would otherwise miss.
When you get home, do not devote your entire evening and night to trading.
Put in a couple of solid hours of work. Push yourself during that time to really hone your expertise. But after a one to four hours of work, take some time off to relax and enjoy a little time off. And then actually get a full night’s sleep.
The key to succeeding is not to work 24 hours a day on trading. It is to commit to a regular schedule where you devote yourself fully in the moment to trading—when you can. You have to make it a priority and do it consistently, but it cannot and should not be all that you do. That is true for becoming an expert in any field!
The five reasons I discussed are all excellent grounds to take heart if you are trying to juggle two or more jobs. You might think that your rich counterparts with huge accounts, interest in the bank to live off of, and all the hours in the day to trade have all the advantages. But there are special advantages you bring to the table which they do not! Your day job can help prevent you from overworking and overtrading. That may be the key to succeeding where a wealthy trader fails!