Productivity Tip: Use more than one computer monitor

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This may be obvious to some of you, but I want to talk about how you can boost your productivity by using multiple computer monitors.

So first, what do I mean by using "multiple monitors"? Most people that haven't tried this think that every computer has exactly one screen, but that doesn't have to be the case. Most computers (even laptops) have a plug for an additional monitor so that you can set up two screens side by side. You can even install additional graphics cards in many computers so that you can use as many monitors as you want (as you can see in the picture above).

I know what you're thinking. Why in the world would you want more than one screen? It seems confusing, pointless, and expensive. Obviously it's cool to feel like a super-villain in an evil lair, but other than that, what's the point? Let's address each of these concerns:

The first time you try using multiple monitors, you'll probably feel overwhelmed. You have to drag your mouse back and forth across the different screens. You have to decide where you want each application to show up. You have to keep track of which screen you're supposed to be looking at.

For the first 30 minutes, all of these are legitimate concerns. After that, everything will seem obvious and natural. I used to work as the "company computer guy" at a start-up company. Every time we hired a new employee I set two monitors up on their desk. Almost every single person told me they didn't need two monitors. A few people actually asked me to get rid of the extra monitor because it took up too much desk space. I would say to these people, "I'll come by later and get rid of the extra monitor". Needless to say, when I came back later, no one would let me take the second monitor because they were already so used to it. I promise that you'll be the same way.

This one is easy. There have been plenty of studies which suggest that using two monitors instead of one can improve productivity by between 9 and 50 percent. You may not understand why until you try it for yourself, but the difference between one monitor and two monitors is night and day. This isn't just about feeling like a super-villain.

Now that we know how much a second monitor can boost productivity, the cost of a second monitor is easy to justify. The 24 inch widescreen monitor in the picture cost me $200. even if a second monitor only boosts your productivity by 10%, you'll only need to use it for a few months before it's paid for itself. I personally think that a second monitor boosts my productivity by closer to 50%, so it's worth the $200 after only a few days of work. Given how much money you probably spent on your computer and the software running on it, spending $200 on an extra monitor to make you more productive is a no-brainer.

So here's the basic summary: If you only have one monitor (or you use a laptop), go out and buy another monitor. Seriously. Do it right now.

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