I've recently created a crypto trading journal using Trello.com (a free project management software), and it's been a huge relief over spreadsheets and standard document-based trading journals.
First thing to know before watching this video or switching everything over... Trello isn't a replacement for spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are definitely still king when it comes to numeric and financial data crunching.
What is Trello? Trello is a project management platform that let's you keep track of projects and tasks in a visual workflow environment.
Building project management right into your journal gives you the ability to manage your trades in a process-oriented and create actionable workflows while preserving and tracking your process at the same time.
Here's what my crypto trading journal looks like:
I'm a visual learner and process-driven kinda guy and every time I see a spreadsheet I die a little death inside, so I started using Trello to journal my crypto trades and it's been a positive addition to my cryptocurrency journey and learning process.
The video above goes through my entire process and shows you a duplicate of my exact journal with redacted information. I've included the basics below with links and my entire process, so you can always come back here to review.
You can also access a public version of my cryptocurrency trading journal Trello board right from this link and make a copy with everything including my labels intact - so steal my crypto journal, improve on it, and let me know how you're using it in the comments below.
Why keep a Crypto Trading Journal?
So why does everyone in crypto recommend keeping a trading journal?
It's simple: keeping track of your altcoin and bitcoin trades gives you a permanent place to reflect on your decision making process so you can improve over time. You can review and learn from your mistakes and successes, evolve your process, and manage risk better.
Having a process is key to success. A process for risk management. A process for finding trade entries. A process for finding exits. Every process you create needs to get refined, battle-tested, improved or discarded with data.
If you enter into every trade or decision with no process and have no way to track historically what did/didn't work for you, it will be much harder for you to improve over time.
I'll use myself as the prime example for why you should start a crypto trading journal.
I started trading in 2017, jumping onto the hype-train like thousands of other people as Bitcoin and alts suddenly started coming out from the shadows and getting mainstream attention.
I challenged myself to learn the basics, opened a Binance account and created a Metamask wallet, and dove in with my characteristic zeal and lack of foresight.
I made tons of trades and I honestly have no idea why I entered each trade. Something on the chart looked good, I guess?
If I'd journaled every trade I now could look back on my journey and improve my process. Unfortunately, I have almost no record of that time and any data I could have reviewed is now lost.
I FOMO'd into pumps. I made bad TA decisions. I made bad FA decisions. I actually made a few good decisions, too. All of those actions and decisions were great learning opportunities, especially the failures.
What Should You Record in Your Journal?
What you record in your trading journal is up to you and should reflect your process, but I've added a few ideas below based on my process.
The important thing is to build context for your future self, so when you go back to review your trades weekly or monthly, you know exactly what you were thinking and why you chose to make the decisions you made.
What do you add to your trading journal? Tell us in the comments.
Why Use Trello Instead of Spreadsheets and Doc's?
There's upsides and downsides to using this process for a trading journal. It's not for everyone and as I mentioned above it won't replace a spreadsheet if it's hard numbers you want to crunch.
This is best for visual learners and people who want a user friendly way to access their journal via mobile, want to segment their trades based on filters (labels), or want to include basic project management functionality right into their journal.
So let's go through some of the Pros vs Cons of using this system vs. a spreadsheet.
What's my dream scenario?
If I could combine my crypto trading journal process with a spreadsheet that was being automatically updated via Zapier.com or something similar, that would really take this to the next level for me!
Any suggestions for deeper automation with this process? Let me know in the comments!
My Crypto Trading Journal Process Step-By-Step
The overall design of my Trello board visually represents the process each item must go through in order to reach completion.
Each list on the board represents a "phase" an idea, task, project, or trade goes through during execution.
I'm only journaling actual trades.
I give each trade the label "journal", that let's me use my board for all my crypto interests while segmenting trades I want to journal, but you can easily use one board for just your trades, another board for masternode projects you're working on, and another for your mining projects, etc.
Items (cards) on the board move from left to right through each phase until they're finished or abandoned.
Here's all of my lanes from left to right with the top item being the leftmost lane on my Trello board:
Each card may have it's own set of tasks (checklists) and processes that it must go through in order for me to mark it as done, or to trigger a decision. Each card represents a new trade or a new project.
Let's say I get an idea to "Buy altcoin $XYZ" based on a chart I was looking at.
Here's the step-by-step process my new idea will go through.
- I create a new card and add it to my far left lane, "Idea / Research / Task". At this point the item is just an idea, I don't know if I'll start executing on it yet or ever.
- Fill in the basics on the card itself, giving it a description, labels, any research I've done, due dates, or whatever I want.
- I regularly review items on this lane to move to the right. As priorities and markets shift, these might become suddenly important, or irrelevant.
- Anything that seems urgent or most exciting to me I move to my Filter board.
- The Filter board is where I start to critically examine an idea. Does it meet my basic criteria? Does it align with my overall goals? Is it really important or just some whimisical time-wasting idea? Anything that satisfies my requirements moves to my Top Priority board. Everything else goes to Abandoned or back to the Idea board.
- Once items are on the Priority board it takes on a new significance. I now start researching the idea, looking for provs vs. cons, risk vs reward, basic fundamental analysis on the company or idea, etc.
- Anything that satisfies my requirements now goes to Due Dilligence. This is where I strive to go deep on the fundamentals and technicals of a coin. This lane is just for investing and trading decisions for the most part.
- If it makes it through this, it finally ends up on my "In Progress" board, where I actually execute the idea or trade.
- Once done, move it to finished or abandoned or whatever.
Starting a crypto trading journal is good risk management and can help you become a better trader by giving you historic Win/Lose data.
Personally, I've found having a visual drag-and-drop tool with project management and segmenting capabilities to be one of the best ways to track and record my trades and to keep me on my game.
The final clencher for me when looking for a new solution was mobile + web access so I can always update my trades from anywhere.
Let me know in the comments if you use this process and have any ideas or feedback!
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