Most people who have used dual monitors will immediately attest to the large productivity improvement they provide.
Most others, who have never had the opportunity to try out dual monitors, know a fellow or two that have doubled their desktop real-estate. These people have probably thought to themselves “Hmm… that’s a nifty setup, but is it really that useful?”
These days, setting up an additional monitor on a Windows system is easy-as-pie and there are thousands of tutorials to get it going with most Linux distributions. Just click here for a list of dual monitor setup tutorials for Windows and the more popular Linux distributions.
Since the time factor and difficulty factor of the setup of dual monitors have all but been eliminated, the only remaining barrier between you and the world of multi-monitors is money. Monitors are on sale all the time and for the amount of increased productivity you’ll achieve, the price can almost be considered negligible.
If you are still uncertain about how much productivity would really be gained from having an additional monitor, I’ve compiled some ways that dual monitors can increase productivity.
Action Screen & Reference Screen: This is how I refer to my screens while I’m working. Whether you are programming, writing a paper, responding to emails, or chatting with a co-worker about a current project, it is often necessary to have more than one window open. Of course, this is achievable with one monitor, but no one likes to resize, squeeze, and fit multiple pages on one monitor like some evil Microsoft jigsaw puzzle. Most of the productivity increases from dual monitors spawn from this “action” and “reference” screen mindset.
Dual monitors allow me to work on one screen and open reference materials, chats, or webpages on the other. Not only does this save the time involved with minimizing and maximizing various windows, but it also lets me focus. The work is always on my screen, always in my view. This leads me to…
Increased Motivation and Decreased Procrastination: With your work always easily viewable, whenever you stray from productivity on your “reference screen”, you’ll be unable to escape the guilt of ignoring your work as it’ll be ominously glaring at you from your “action screen”. As a result, you’ll spend less time away from your work and more time getting things done.
Keep a Constant Eye on Dynamic Data: If you are one to find yourself constantly checking RSS feeds or waiting for downloads to complete, you surely realize the loss of productivity that is caused by reloading pages or waiting a few minutes longer than necessary when you didn’t see that download finish. An additional monitor will allow you to keep dynamic data on one screen while continuing with other pressing tasks.
Be Productive During Unproductive Times: Some of us like to be productive all the time or learning new things all the time. Sometimes while I am watching a movie on my computer, I find myself using my other screen to talk with a friend about a current project or plans we’ve made. I find myself looking up the actors in the movie to see in what else they’ve acted. This is debatable as a pro or con because sometimes complete attention is required for or enhances a movie experience, but I always find myself happy to have that additional monitor.
All in all, a multi-monitor system creates an environment highly conducive to focus and, at the same time, beneficial to multitasking, depending on the current needs of the user. I personally recommend anyone who is thinking about making the jump to either borrow a buddy’s monitor or even track down an old CRT monitor for a few days to try it out.
- Windows XP
- Ubuntu Linux
Useful Applications for Dual Monitors:
- Ultramon – This application allows you to extend the taskbar to additional monitors, easily set up multi-monitor backgrounds, and many other useful tasks.
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