You know that regular entries in your stock trading journal can help you to improve your performance. But, like many people who trade stocks seriously, you find the process of making entries tedious, and so you ‘forget’ about it a lot.
But you cannot succeed consistently as a trader if you do not evaluate your performance. So keeping the journal is a critical resource for trading success.
Scheduling helps traders to make the effort to keep a careful journal. As traders receive the benefit that a journal provides, it becomes easier and easier for them to get motivated to keep one carefully.
But when is the best time to add to your journal? In the middle of a busy trading day, you may not have time to pay much attention to anything else. At the end of the day, when you are finished trading, is probably the best time to schedule your trade journaling.
You may indeed be tired at this time, and eager to move on to leisure activities, but you should take the time to make full-scale journal entries about each trade. This is when the context and emotions involved in making the trades are fresh in your mind, so you should seize the moment and get it all down on paper.
But, if the end of the trading day is not a good time for you, consider updating your journal the next morning, first thing. At this time you will be refreshed and ready to get things done, but you will still have a fairly good recall of what happened on the previous trading day. Some traders really prefer the next morning for journaling, as it gives them time to think carefully about what they did, and why they did it. They gain a bit of perspective in exchange for perhaps not remembering every trade as clearly as they did the day before.
What you do not want to do is to wait too long before updating your journal. The longer you wait, the further away you are from the emotions and ideas that generated the decision to make a trade. It’s very important, from the point of view of getting the full benefit of your journaling software, to have a full and complete description of your thought process when making the trade. It is this process that a careful review of your journal will help to improve and refine.
When should you schedule a review of your journal? This depends on the volume of trades that you make. You will want to have a sufficient number of trades recorded to make analysis fruitful. But you do not want to wait too long, because you will lose opportunities to improve your analysis and trading thought process. This is rather personal: For some people, a few days is a good time, while others want a larger critical mass of trades to analyse.