Ah yes – the exciting images of trading floors, guys & girls shouting “buy Microsoft” and “sell soya bean”, or perhaps huge open-plan offices with banks of computers with traders excitedly pawing over charts whilst on the phone to clients. Yeah. That doesn’t really happen any more. Besides what we’re talking about on this website is retail trading which basically means trading for one’s self, not as part of an investment company.
So how should I set up my workspace to optimise my trading?
The short answer is however you will be most comfortable, least distracted and most focussed on your tasks.
As everyone is different there is no one optimal setup, though we can probably assume the following:
- distractions to a minimum – do you need the TV on right now?
- keep well hydrated – this will prevent headaches and improve concentration as well as having lots of other health benefits
- a computer or laptop that is easy to use and powerful enough to run all the software you need without struggling/slowing you down
- a good, bright, large enough screen with good pixel density and clarity – if you’re going to be looking through charts a lot (and you are) you must give your eyes the best chance of success. A decent monitor is essential to prevent eye fatigue and headaches
- a comfortable chair with back, lumbar and arm support. If you’re short in the leg consider a foot stool type thing as well. The HSE has good info on this here
- good lighting. Don’t strain your eyes by looking at a bright screen in a dim room
- decent keyboard & mouse – I recommend an Apple keyboard (you can use them with Windows as I do) and a gaming mouse (they are much better than standard mice and prevent injuries such as RSI & Bursitis)
- good trading platform (software) – this may be limited by your choice of broker
How many monitors do I need?
One. If you want to use more, go for it. One person’s perfect workflow is another’s nightmare. Personally I currently use one monitor but have nothing against using more. If you have the luxury of being able to borrow a friend’s monitor (and you have enough ports on your graphics card) then maybe try using two for a day or so, see how you get on? If you’re willing to switch windows occasionally, one monitor is fine for most styles of trading.
Do I need rolling news in the background?
No. Not the way I trade, anyway.
If you want to trade the news then yes of course you’ll need at least one live news feed.
How many clocks do I need?
Just the one that comes part of your operating system (bottom right in Windows)
I do have a radio-controlled desk clock as well in case I want to know how long a candle has before it closes.
This setup sounds pretty boring!
Good. Trading is and should be boring. It’s not glamorous, shouty or exciting. Get over it.