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Trader Routines Revealed: Nothing Wrong with Good Habits

September 13, 2013

Traders are creatures of habit. In fact, those living with the market-obsessed might argue that traders are a species unto their own.

In all seriousness, pre-market and post-market routines can be what makes or breaks a trading approach. Below, some members of our trading team detail the steps they run through as global markets give way to the U.S. opening bell, and how they wrap up a trading day that, in fact, never really closes.

There may be “no crying in baseball,” but there is kissing in trading! There’s a message to be found in that revelation too. Trading routines and happy home life often overlap. And that’s all the more reason to make your regular market checks as simple and convenient as possible (see more on site enhancements, including the one-stop “My Dock” feature, at the end of this article).

And now, in their own words, the crew’s trading routines:

JJ Kinahan, Chief Strategist at TD Ameritrade

  • Get up, check the SPUs (S&P 500 futures) and overnight markets on my TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader app.

  • Check email and read my daily market summaries.

  • Kiss my wife goodbye and leave the house, listening to CNBC radio as I drive.

  • Quick check of the SPUs and then off to work out. I check CNBC and Bloomberg from the gym.

  • Back to the office and review my trading position.

  • Check markets and read posts from the many interesting folks I follow on Twitter.

  • Monitor any 8:30 a.m. ET economic releases.

  • Finalize my trading plan. Let the day begin!


  • Check order fills and overall trading position.

  • Enter any evening futures orders. I will check futures markets every 30–60 minutes all evening.

  • Kiss my wife goodnight. Check futures one more time.

Tom White, Senior Manager and Strategist, RED Option Advisors, Inc.

  • I usually wake up about three to five times instinctively to check markets throughout the night on the Mobile Trader app. If any large swings, I check the news outlets.

  • I’ll read news or watch CNBC in the gym before hitting my desk.

  • As the strategist for our option advisory service, RED OptionSM, I write a comprehensive Market Blog each day before the open. I draw from the S&P Capital IQ morning briefing on the TD Ameritrade website, Bloomberg, CNBC, the FlyontheWall, MarketWatch, Yahoo Finance, Reuters, and Seeking Alpha, among other sources.

  • My job is to be market-obsessed. I watch CNBC on the trading platform from the time I get in until the market closes. And I scour our existing positions and look for new trades. I have the “Live News” feature open on the thinkorswim® platform to keep up on any potential market-moving news to help with adjustments and closing trades.


  • I usually follow earnings and economic data released after the close, using the Live News feature or CNBC on Trader TV. Gets Personal


FIGURE 1: MY DOCK An enhanced My Dock feature showing a three-column view. Additional customization available. For illustrative purposes only. 

Not ready for the pro level like our trader team? We understand. But traders of all experience levels might benefit from routine. In fact, following good habits will be easier with the enhanced Your routine might start with My Dock (figure 1).

If your portfolio doesn’t look like anyone else's, your website shouldn’t either. With the new My Dock feature, you’ll be able to customize your website experience with what’s most relevant to you. Select from a variety of modules such as watch lists, streaming news, videos, account balances, indices, and more, all in one convenient place.

Doing It All

You asked. We listened. Check out the enhanced experience.

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