There is a good reason why working with two, or even three displays is becoming the norm. Research shows that using multiple monitors boost productivity and well being.
How multiple monitors boost productivity
If you are working for a skimpy boss who insists that everyone should make due with their laptop only, then you should find multiple arguments to convince him or her in this blog post.
Sitting hunched over å laptop 40 hours a week is the same as asking for trouble. Even without an external display, there are things you can do to not make expensive trips to a chiropractor a part of your life.
Start with getting a laptop stand and an external keyboard
A laptop stand can be anything from an ultraportable piece of plastic to a sleek design thing in brushed aluminum. In my home office, I have a sturdy plastic stand from 3M. For travel, I use å light weigh collapsable model. At work, I have a different solution. More about that later.
The key element here is to raise your laptop screen to something akin to eye level. To be able to do this, you have to have your laptop standing close to vertically, or on a stand like in the below picture. This will demand a mouse and a keyboard if you want to do more than look at your computer.
Get an external computer screen
Now you got your laptop standing vertically and you are using a proper keyboard and mouse. You have improved your ergonomics. Now the time has come to improve your productivity.
Why two monitors are better than one
A study by Jon Peddie Research found that using multiple monitors boost productivity by 42 percent. With an external monitor hooked up to your laptop, you should start using the bigger and better monitor as your main display. Personally, I like to reserve my laptop screen for email or Todoist and work on the bigger monitor.
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How multiple displays make you more productive
- Faster switching between applications
Instead of flicking between different applications using the Alt + Tab shortcut, you can just move your eyes to find the information or your mouse pointer to switch to the other application.
- Working side by side
When comparing information between two sources, you can do this without having to switch between applications.
- Copy and paste
If you need to copy and paste information, you will save time when moving between two applications because you can do this without losing track of where you are in the different applications.
- Monitoring information
If you are waiting for that super important email, just leave your email program on one of your screens and keep working on the other(s).
- See more information
Being able to see the whole document without having to scroll makes it so much easier to get work done. Anyone who has been working on a large Excel sheet knows what I’m talking about.
Get two external displays
Most desktop computers support having two displays. If you have a laptop and a docking station, this will most likely support two displays as well. If you have the space on your desk, having two external displays should be a priority.
Depending on your laptop and docking station, you may find that your laptop will support two external displays – plus the laptop display. You may have to restart your laptop in order to get this to work but with a little patience you should be able to have two large displays for what you are working on, plus using your built-in display for email.
Landscape view vs portrait view
The landscape view is how most people are used to look at whatever they are doing on their computer, but there are serious arguments for turning one of your monitors 90 degrees.
Landscape view is best for:
- Excel files with a lot of columns
- Most pictures
- Adobe Lightroom
- Comparing two documents on the same screen
- Having two applications side-by-side
Portrait view is best for:
- Surfing the web
- Reading long documents
*if your resolution is good enough to display all information.
In defense of using the horizontal view for movies.
Size is not the most important
When selecting a computer screen, you have to look at more than the number of inches. This number tells you something about the physical size of the screen. What it does not tell you is how much information you will be able to see. This is determined by the number of pixels.
I have experimented quite a lot with monitors, both at home and at work. I can attest that multiple monitors boost productivity. Personally, I think that it is also reducing the number of errors since I can check other applications without losing track of where I am in my work.
At work, I have Dell laptop with a USB-C docking station. With a little bit of experimenting, I got my docking station to support three external screens with the lid closed. Two of these screens are in portrait view, making it easy to compare long documents side-by-side. The third screen is in landscape view. It has a high resolution, making it possible to have Todoist or Outlook on one side and still have space for one more application.
At home, I have a 34-inch ultra-wide monitor in landscape view and a 24-inch monitor in portrait view. The 34-inch with enables me to have three applications side-by-side.
Don’t miss the follow-up to this blog post: