Who would’ve thought that daydreaming was actually a positive for your productivity?
As it turns out, taking frequent breaks from your computer screen to daydream, among other things, could improve your trading performance, many times over.
That is according to new studies, which demonstrate–and fairly significantly, that people who take shorter, but more frequent, breaks during working hours have more stamina and more focus and are more productive overall throughout the day.
As much as a power nap can revive your mind, clear your head and allow for a better flow of creative thought patterns, so too do short breaks help you to perform at an optimum level. Daydreaming also keeps you healthy and helps you to avoid the medical pitfalls of stress-related diseases.
Even a 30-second power break can increase productivity up to 13 percent, while a 15-second break, every 10 minutes from staring at a computer screen, can reduce fatigue by up to 50 percent, according to new studies.
Keep in mind that the brain solves its trickiest problems while daydreaming.
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“Trading is a marathon, not a sprint,” is one of the most recognized phrases used to explain why traders need to pace themselves, give their brain-eye coordination a rest and turn away from the ever-luring screen. The average mind gets easily distressed, when confronted with the changing numbers and graphs on the trading screen for long periods of time. But, just as in a marathon, a trader needs to pay attention to the pace of data flowing through their brain, in order to remain truly focused and on top of the game.
So, every now and then, you should ask yourself: Are you nervous? Are you losing focus? Most importantly, do you fear that you are about to make bad decision? If the answer to any of these questions is affirmative, it’s time to take a break and recover.
According to the testimonies of dozens of traders, here are some of the best ways to take a break:
#1 Simple Lunch
Yeah, we know: it’s so obvious. But, you might be surprised at how few traders actually take a lunch break. You also might be surprised at how infrequently you do it yourself. Scarfing down a sandwich while monitoring your computer screen does not a lunch break make. Take a quick test and write down how many times you have dropped what you are doing, left your computer screen and relocated for lunch in the past week, or month.
Today, statistics show that only one in five office workers actually take a lunch break away from their desk, even though studies find that leaving the office for at least 20 minutes is a proven way to sustain concentration and energy levels throughout the day. The same goes for home traders—perhaps even more so, because the temptation to eat in front of your computer screen is potentially that much greater. Don’t be sucked into this negative pattern—get out of the room or get out of the house. Make sure you get away from that screen.
And, it’s not just where you eat lunch, but what you eat. Your glucose intake will determine your productivity for the rest of the day. For lunch or an afternoon snack, nutritionists recommend consuming ‘brain food.” Naturally, fresh fruit, vegetables and fish would be the first choice. But, nuts and seeds are also on the top of the list, as they are full of vitamin E, which is known to slow down cognitive decline as we age. Dark chocolate can also give you a nice boost as a natural stimulant and concentration aid.
#2 Quick & Easy Workout
Studies claim that exercise keeps the mind sharp. So, we can not only learn the patterns that work in trading, but also better pick up on the subtle market shifts before anyone else. Experts claim that training both mind and body also trains you to handle the workouts that the market will give you. Short rounds of aerobics, strength exercises and stretching, when you have time during the office hours, can help to improve fitness levels and heart health. Regular physical exercise does several important things that are all related to trading. Mainly, due the nature of work, traders are exposed to a high level of stress. Too much stress harms performance. And, if the pressure is too high or too low, then our trading performance will suffer.
During the daily work, traders get stressed due to numerous factors, including the fast-moving market and the possibility of making a bad trade. However, frequent exercises, both mental and physical, could keep adrenaline and stress under control. A healthy lifestyle can make us feel better, give us more stamina, help us get sick less often and allow us to have a better emotional balance. Also, exercise can be as effective in combating depression and anxiety as medication.
You can also quickly combine numbers 1 and 2, by hitting up the park for a quick lunch in the fresh air. A brisk walk there, lunch and a brisk walk back will do wonders for reviving your concentration and your head. The busy streets are less advantageous, because there is too much sensory input going on and that may prevent your mind from relaxing and unwinding. Studies have shown that a walk in a quiet park is sufficient to refresh our attention spans so we can return to work with renewed focus.
If you’re at home, try planking followed by a quiet lunch on the balcony or away from your computer screen or other sensory invasions. There’s nothing like a quick 30-second plank, every 30 or 60 minutes, to keep your blood circulating, your muscles alive and your mind sharp.
#3 Power Nap
It’s not a career. But, in the end, many mention naps as a crucial part of a mind battery recharge. Sleep is essential to memory and dreaming has been linked to greater creativity and productivity. It also helps with stress and concentration. Experts agree that we’re naturally designed to have a second short sleep in the afternoon, sometime around 14:00. So, go for it. According to experts, a 20-minute nap creates room in your working memory for new information, by clearing out all of the irrelevant or redundant information that you gathered during the day.
Do you remember in elementary, middle and high school, when you made fun of the kid whose head was in the clouds and who was frequently caught day-dreaming in class? Well, don’t be too quick to make fun anymore. Find out where that kid is now. He’s probably doing quite well. Why? Well, day dreaming is where your brain really kicks out the creativity. If you are capable of any depth of thought, whatsoever, this is where it will really come out. And, it will boost your thinking capacity when you return to your computer screen.
The bottom line is this: Your brain is not a computer screen and your computer screen always has the advantage over you in one respect. It doesn’t need to rest. You do.