Because the market is down, I made some limit orders today for my 2011 IRA monies. I'm not trying to "time" the market, but rather since my IRA money was sitting in cash I decided that today was a better day to enter some orders.
We use our IRA money to invest in individual stocks and I use the Fidelity research tools to start my research. If you've got a Fidelity account, click on research, then click on stocks, then click on preset expert strategies. From that list, you can pick the strategy that matches your goals and personality. I'm a bargain hunter, so my favorite strategy is "bottom fishing." From the bottom fishing list of picks, I then use the research tools from Fidelity or I'm also fan of Morningstar and Google Finance.
After I've made my selection, I normally buy my stocks via a limit order that is good until I cancel it. A limit order can only be filled when the stock reaches a certain price. So, today I put a limit order in for a stock that was $14.56 at close yesterday. I'm already looking at a bargain stock so my limit order is normally just below the trending price for that particular stock. So, my limit order was at $13.75. Good until cancel means that limit order will sit until its filled, meaning the stock drops to $13.75 ,or it just sits as an open order and I can come back and cancel it later.
Disclaimer - I'm not a financial advisor or expert, this post is simply a description of my pattern and practice and it may not work for you.