Fast and Light: Productivity for Traders

So things have been rolling along wrok-wise here in Hong Kong. My latest project is working on efficiency of the traders and salesmen here in the office. With a short staff, my job is to make the current staff more productive at what they do. I am drawing on my daily online readings at and which I’ve been reading for a few years. Back in high school (when I had a lot to juggle), I used some of the productivity tactics to help balance everything.

As with any office, I started with email as the biggest drain of resources. Email hasn’t changed much since its inception and implementation into office life but the number of emails sent has increased dramatically. Traders, in particular, get a truckload of email each day. Upon inspection of my uncle’s email inbox, he had…25,000+ messages, just in his inbox. Good god, man, don’t you delete anything?

I set up an altered version of the Getting To Done (GTD) system that is often touted on the web as a very simple and easy way to work on productivity. It centers on the “next action,” meaning a list actions that must be completed. With email, a “next action” designation goes to any email one must reply to, find information for, or act upon, taking over two minutes. Anything under two minutes, should be completed immediately upon reading. The idea of separating out these particular emails is that a person often leaves emails in the inbox to reply to later but one also leaves all kinds of other emails in the inbox too forcing an individual to scan, read, and reread the inbox each time one checks his email. By separating out the “next action,” it’s a mental relief to know exactly what you need to do next. Combined with a few filters and deleting (or for gmail users, archiving) everything else, this system can quickly and efficiently clean out one’s inbox.

A trader’s life is a little ADD, if you ask me. There are phone calls, alarms, talking rate quotes, etc. that are constantly distracting, demanding attention. It’s a wonder they get anything done.