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Should I Get a Second Monitor? How Multiple-Monitor Productivity Gives My Office a Boost

I have long been an advocate of having at least two monitors in your workspace. For my own individual office setup, I use a 27′ iMac with a 27″ LED Cinema Display–and I’ve never looked back.

Having the space to actually get work done is what it’s all about. In fact, the ultimate lifestyle tool, for those who want to get work done and get back to their lives, might actually be the second monitor.

Not convinced?

In this article, I’m going to go over some of my reasons for doubling up on monitors. If any of these apply to you, you should strongly consider a multiple monitor set-up, either for your personal office or even your entire workplace.

You’ll Save Money (Or At Least Be More Productive)

I know, I know. You’re thinking, “how can buying an extra monitor actually help me save money?”

Well, in 2006, the New York Times reported that introducing a second monitor can increase your office’s productivity by up to 30 percent. That’s a huge benefit for most offices. Enough, in fact, that some companies have started switching to a multiple-monitor setup for all of their employees.

That’s what we’ve done in my law office. By giving all of our staff a laptop and an additional monitor of their own to use, we rarely have to deal with chronic time wasting problems that come from working on one small screen.

Even if you don’t go that far, there are a number of ways that adding a second monitor to your personal workstation can increase your productivity.

Smoother Communication

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It’s much easier to collaborate online if you’re taking advantage of multiple-monitor productivity. As anyone who’s tried to simultaneously video-chat and work on the same monitor, there’s simply not enough space to do both. Either you give up on work entirely, or you end up trying to talk to a tiny square in the corner of your screen.

By introducing a second monitor, space issues become a thing of the past. By keeping your collaborator on one monitor and your work on another, you’ll have more time for both.

Easier Comparison

Any task that requires editing or comparing versions of a document is virtually impossible with a single monitor. Consider the process of checking the data on two spreadsheets on a single monitor—the hassle of pulling up a file, trying to remember the data on it, inevitably forgetting… it’s not fun.

Needless to say, introducing a second monitor to your desk vastly improves the experience of comparing files. Editors, bookkeepers, and collators all benefit from the ability to look directly from one document or spreadsheet to another.

Learning Opportunities

On a related note, both teaching and learning become easier with two monitors. Complicated tasks are much easier to teach when there’s more space to work with, and it’s nice to be able to separate personal work from the teaching space.

The benefits for personal learning are even more dramatic. For those used to the hassle of a single monitor, the ease of following a fullscreen instruction video on a separate monitor is a breath of fresh air.

Better Multi-Tasking

Most guides to office productivity will tell you not to multi-task. While that’s good advice in general, it’s not always realistic. There are times when even the best planner has multiple things on his or her plate.

In circumstances like these, multiple-monitor productivity can be a huge help. You’ll save time that would be spent switching between different windows and tabs, pulling up different documents, or referencing sources. In short, the necessary evil of multi-tasking will become much less of a headache with two monitors involved.

Separate Work and Play

Many office workers find that having multiple monitors helps them keep their work-time and break-time separate. If you can constantly see Facebook minimized in the corner of your screen, there’s a constant incentive to click it. However, if you keep your social life on a separate monitor, you’ll feel less temptation to check your notifications every five minutes.

Ease of Use

Perhaps the best reason to bring multiple-monitor productivity to your office is that it’s easy. The only set-up cost is the price of an extra desktop monitor and that has even gone down in recent years. After buying the monitor, the actual installation can be performed in just a few minutes.

You’re Probably Equipped to Handle It Already

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Finally, consider that most modern computers are already set up to handle multiple monitors. Thus, doing all your work on a single monitor is actually a waste of the average GPU’s capabilities. You’ll be getting the full, intended experience by taking advantage of multiple monitor productivity.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the choice of whether or not to spring for a second monitor has a lot to do with what you use your computer for. I’m a pretty big advocate for multiple-monitor productivity, but even I have to admit that there are some offices where adding a second monitor to every workstation just isn’t practical.

Nevertheless, I highly recommend that you give the two-monitor setup a try, at least in your personal workspace. You’ll likely find that the subtle benefits of a second monitor improve your daily workflow. What’s more, avoiding the tiny frustrations of a single monitor setup will leave you feeling more relaxed at the end of your workday. Before long, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without two screens.

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