Today’s note has nothing to do with trading, and absolutely everything to do with trading.
Let me explain.
The solutions to trading problems aren’t always found when we’re trading. In fact, I would argue most of the time they aren’t. At least not for me.
Have you ever been in the shower, on a walk with your dog, or driving your car when suddenly you were struck with a fantastic idea or an important “to-do”? Not just about trading, but about anything?
Happens to me all the time.
Even worse, it seems that whenever I’m struck with a great idea or a prompt for an errand I need to do, they come in waves. The brainstorming just flows ideas out of my head in a torrent that makes it impossible for me to remember everything. And it always seems to happen when I have no ability to write it down.
So I just try to remember it all until later when I can either perform the task, send that email, write that blog post, make that trade, or adjust that strategy.
But this act of remembering prevents me from moving forward when all I’m trying to do is balance the spinning plates of thoughts running in my head.
Remembering consumes far more mental energy than is necessary.
Because of my limited mental capacity to maintain so many spinning plates, the majority of my great ideas and reminders inevitably are forgotten and never acted upon. At least, not in any kind of timely fashion that would be most beneficial to me or any projects I’m working on.
This past November, a book found me at just the right time and place that has completely transformed my productivity – both personally and professionally. This in turn has freed up so much time and headspace for me to make tremendous progress on long-term projects that have been festering, uncompleted, in the dark recesses of my mind for seeming ages.
The book is Getting Things Done, by David Allen.
This is not a new book. It’s been around for at least 20 years, though it has been recently updated. None of the core principles have changed (they are timeless), but it addresses some of the newer technologies that have come along and how they fit into our grand schemes of organization and productivity.
This book found me at the right time. When I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. In fact, I spent a large part of my vacation in Mexico deep in thought about this book.
After putting its principles into practice, I’ve since re-read the book which helped clarify some things for me that could only be clarified after I had some real-world experience with it. And I’ve made a note to revisit this book every six months to make sure I’m operating with the least amount of drag.
Putting the principles in place requires some hardware and software. And the tools will differ for everyone. There are no right tools (both digital and physical) that will satisfy everyone. You have to figure out what works best for you and your workflow habits.
For me, two amazingly powerful tools have proven to be invaluable.
The first is the Things app on my iPhone. This is an app I’ve used for a few years now. But it wasn’t until I read Getting Things Done that I realized I’d been vastly underutilizing this simple yet powerful app.
This app has become the de facto warehouse of my mind. Every thought, to-do, reminder, and project that I’m working on is kept easily accessible and organized here. And whenever I have a new thought that I don’t want to forget, I easily and quickly add it to the “inbox” on this app, to be dealt with properly, later, when I’m in a better place to focus on it.
And remember earlier when I mentioned some of my best ideas happen when I’m unable to actually write them down (or type them into my iPhone)? Well, I discovered that the Things app is even more powerful when paired with my Apple Watch. Now, whenever I have a random thought, I don’t even need to write it or type it down. I just talk to my watch: “Hey Siri, in Things, remind me to do the dishes.”
Boom. Now I won’t forget to get the dishes done, and I can stop thinking about it, consuming mental energy trying to “remember.”
I’m like Dick Tracy, talking to my watch while I’m in the shower, driving my car, running on a treadmill, climbing a mountain. Wherever, whenever. It’s awesome.
Am I totally nerding out on this stuff? You bet.
While the effects on my personal and professional life have been profound, they’ve also tremendously benefited my trading. I’m now so much better at brainstorming and capturing ideas, letting them marinate, then coming back to them when I’m most energized to perform or strategize the way I need to.
And when I have the confidence to know things are no longer slipping through the cracks of my mind, everything that needs to get done gets done when it needs to and it has been incredibly energizing to me. It feels like a tremendous weight has been lifted from my shoulders.
I’ve never felt lighter.
Now, let me make this promise: There is no guarantee that reading this book will transform your life the way it has mine. We all react to new ideas and workflows differently. This book will only work for you if you want it to. You have to want it.
But isn’t that true for almost everything?
If you’re already a “GTD-er” and you’ve been nodding your head throughout this entire missive, give me a shout and let me know about your experiences. I’d love to hear from you.
Trade ’em Well,
Chief Options Strategist
All Star Charts, Technical Analysis Research