When it comes to trading, it’s important to ensure that the environment you’re working in is one that is going to facilitate your chances of success, not impede it. When people discuss with me about my trading environment, they often assume I am immersed amongst business news channels like CNBC or Bloomberg. The reality is however, that with the exception of any important economic data, I will only view the TV in the morning to see what is making headlines and to gauge market sentiment before trade commences. Beyond that, I like to turn the TV off, otherwise it disrupts my focus while trading. On the other hand, I do listen to music, and believe that it can help each of us while trading.
Of course, when I refer to music that I listen to while trading, I’m not referring to any song. I’m referring to calming music that helps us improve our productivity and reduce the stress associated with volatile and crazy markets – namely, songs that include the sound of nature, songs without lyrics, and songs with a set tempo.
Sounds of nature such as trickling water or animals chirping have been found by researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to: support perceptive functioning; maintain focus; and aid satisfaction amongst subjects for the task at hand. Provided the music wasn’t repetitive or distinguishable by subjects, no detrimental observations were observed in terms of causing a distraction. While things like business shows can disrupt our concentration, the sounds of nature soothe our mind and remove the hostility associated with the markets.
Listening to music without lyrics is also beneficial in maintaining our attention. Naturally, as humans we are tuned into the words of a song, processing them from our ears to our mind. Studies conducted by the Cambridge Sound Management identified that our focus is drawn away from our work towards deciphering how understandable the words we hear are. But when we listen to instruments only, this peaceful melody relaxes us and doesn’t divert our thoughts. Similarly, another study by researchers from the BMS College of Engineering in Bangalore (India) noted that when participants were subjected to music playing around 60 beats per minute, they reported an increased state of relaxation and considerable reduction in stress.
One of the considerations when designing your trading environment is the presence of any personal touches that create calm – for me, I have a portable miniature waterfall that I place on my desk to give me a sense of Zen and calmness while trading. In future articles, I’ll talk about Feng Shui and how I incorporate it within my home and trading room.
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