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Trading Education Posted by Team Topstep December 18, 2022

The Healthy Traders Morning Checklist

Healthy Traders Morning Checklist

If you are successful at almost anything in life, then it’s likely you understand the value of having a routine. I’ve observed countless traders for nearly twenty years, and I have found that those who are the most profitable and stable with their winnings are routine-oriented. This is such a natural part of their behavior that many don’t even consciously make a list; they live and breathe routine. 

This doesn’t reflect poorly on their personality or how engaging they are; it merely means that they take their work seriously. If you are a trader who is looking to go to the next level, one of the factors that you might consider is tightening up your routine. Even a trader with sufficient capital, ample time, and a good system can find their opportunities collapsing around them without a healthy checklist to start their day.

The Healthy Traders Morning Checklist 

From the onset, this advice assumes that you are a trader who starts the day in the morning and begins trading not long after rising from bed. If you are a trader who has a different kind of lifestyle, such as working a normal job then trading in the evenings, or as others I know who work during the night and trade their markets at the regular open, then your situation is a bit more nuanced, so you will have to take the foundation this material provides and adapt it to your circumstances.

Furthermore, every person is unique, with varying strengths and different growing edges. Accordingly, I’m convinced there is no “one size fits all” approach to anything in life, especially trading. So it will be up to you to adapt this data to your specific needs.

Time To Wake Up!

Starting a healthy trading lifestyle means waking up at a reasonable, consistent time each day. This means planning for adequate rest the night before. I’ve frequently found that traders who wake up too late, or who are unregulated with their sleep, often find it hard to generate consistent profits. So your first checklist item begins at wake up.

All Systems are “Go”!

The next thing you might do is check over your computers, various software and trading platforms, internet connection, and whatever relevant wiring you may need for the day. While this is something we usually take for granted, there is nothing worse than being all prepared to trade and finding out your computer has just decided to run an update, your platform has an expired password, a loose wire, or your internet router needs to be reset. 

Finding out about these problems last minute can interrupt a good start to the day, so before anything else, it is good practice to make certain all your systems are functional. 

Get Your Body Moving!

You will be exercising your mind to a significant extent during the trading day, so it’s good to get your body moving first. Studies demonstrate that physical exercise promotes emotional and mental health, which are a critical part of your trading day. Exercise can help you live longer and have a more productive trading career. I’ve found that getting my blood flowing helps keep me patient and rule-based during the trading day. In other words, starting the day with discipline helps keep you on that track throughout the day.

Dress to Impress (Yourself)

Some traders can be successful in pajamas. However, I’ve found that the self-care of grooming and dressing for success helps maintain a certain mindset of taking yourself and your trading seriously. 

What’s For Breakfast?

Diet is a critical component of your day if you are going to function well. A healthy and intentional selection that balances protein, carbs, and sugars will enable you to have the appropriate energy while not suffering from a sugar crash. This will help start your day in the right direction. 

Eating is also a good way to settle down and mentally prepare for what your day will hold. They say not to go grocery shopping while hungry. Well, I say not to select trades while you’re hungry. When your body’s nutritional needs are not balanced, you lack the holistic equilibrium that you need to be at your best.

Do A Mental and Emotional Check-In

You can overlap this part of your routine with exercise or breakfast, or you can make this step completely separate. However, clearing your mind from mental and emotional baggage is a beneficial practice for the beginning of a trading day. 

If something is bothering you and it remains unsorted, that can very much interfere with your trading decisions. However, by centering yourself, being aware of your thoughts and emotions, and considering your state of being, you can settle yourself and be focused and prepared for the mental and emotional weight of the trading day.

When it comes to this part of the routine, some prefer to practice a spiritual exercise, including yoga, meditation, prayer, readings from sacred books, or other potential outlets. Whatever works for you, just make sure to clear your mind from personal distractions and center yourself on the day’s objectives. 

Prep Your Environment

Before you begin to dig into the markets, make sure your environment is set up for success. Whatever you may need to endure the trading session, get it ready, whether that means having water available, music going, trash and clutter removed from your workstation, or whatever else helps you feel organized. Just make sure all this is ready before you start looking closely at the markets.

Check-in With The Market

With these elements of routine putting you in a healthy overall position, you are better equipped to process market analysis. Some things to consider on your pre-trading checklist include how your markets performed while you were asleep during the overnight trade. Was there any catalyst for market behavior since you were last at your desk? 

Furthermore, is there any news on the horizon for your market in the upcoming session? If so, then how might this affect your market and trading? These are pertinent things to look up before your market opens. 

Your Trading Checklist

Before your market opens, your plan should be well-formed if you have considered the factors expressed in this article. Once you are ready, you should consider the following items on your trading checklist:

  1. When will I trade? Before the opening bell rings, you should know at what point in the day you may take a trade and at which portions of the day you will not take trades.
  2. What is my risk? Again, before the day begins, you should know exactly what your daily risk is and how much you will risk on each trade. If you wait until the market opens to determine these factors, you are likely to make ill-informed decisions.
  3. What are my targets? There are certain parameters that can be adjusted in the course of the day based on price action, but still, you should know exactly how you will target your winners before the day opens, whether it be a quiet day or one full of volatility.
  4. What atmosphere and price action am I looking for? Your daily checklist should include exactly what you expect to happen during the day. For example, if it is going to be a slow day, then your plan should accommodate that; otherwise, if it will be an eventful day, then your plan should anticipate that accordingly.

Remember, price action may be random, but your trading doesn’t have to be!

In closing, there is much more to successful trading than just a routine. For example, if you have the best routine in the world but lack the trading tools, resources, time, or system analysis, then you are unlikely to succeed. However, a good daily checklist fits like a glove. If you have a good trading system but little to no routine, then you are likely destined for disappointment.

Download Our FREE Trading Checklist!

This is by no means a complete list. Please, by all means, feel comfortable sharing your daily checklist’s elements in our social community. Each trader is different, and their routine should fit their individual needs.

What’s most important is that you do have a routine and a plan. If this article provokes your thought or enables you to engage in consideration over developing your own checklist for healthy trading, then it has served its purpose. 

Get started right now by downloading Topstep’s FREE Trading Checklist! Feel free to print it out and make copies for yourself. The digital version also comes with some excellent trading resources to help you through the process.

Until next time, trade well!