Hardware

Do You Need a Multi Monitor Setup to Be Productive? A Personal Perspective

  • Does adding a second monitor to your computer increase productivity?
  • Can you work on a laptop just the same as you would on a desktop with a monitor?
  • Is more screen real-estate helping you work faster and better?
Dual monitor settings Windows 10 - BinaryFork.com

Since the early 2000s, I’ve been using a dual monitor setup to work. Even in the few years when I’ve used a laptop as the main computer, I’ve found that adding a second monitor helped significantly with productivity. But is it really necessary to use multiple monitors, where’s the point of diminishing return, and what’s the best setup?

Here are my personal thoughts on multi-monitor setups. I hope you enjoy my findings and get something out of reading this article.

Why Use Multiple Monitors?

First, I think we should address the question: Why Use More Than One Monitor? Well, I think here the principle “the more the merrier” applies perfectly. More screen space means you can open more app windows and keep them in front of your eyes.

Even if you’re a keyboard shortcut guru switching between apps to bring them in the foreground or send them to the background takes a little bit of time. This means losing a few moments every time you need to switch apps.

Yes, you can tile multiple windows and keep them visible together, but some apps just need more space to show enough info, so tiling doesn’t help much.

Another thing I’ve found is that my multitasking-oriented short-term memory got so bad that I need to constantly bring apps to the foreground. No, really, my brain got so bad from constant multitasking that it’s significantly more productive for me to just keep everything I need at one point on the screen.

Moving my eyes left to right and back is way faster than constantly switching between running apps.

There are plenty of other small reasons to work on more than one monitor, but those are limited use cases. That’s not to say they don’t matter if you find yourself in that use case. Let me know in the comment what’s the special reason you’re using two or three monitors.

Even if you’re not using multiple monitors, you should consider using multiple desktops in Windows to keep your workspace neatly organized.

Does Adding a Second Monitor Double Productivity?

As with so many things in life, at some point adding more becomes a nuisance or, in the best case, doesn’t add much besides cost.

Personally, I like using two monitors. I’ve had at some point three screens and found it pointless since one of them got neglected most of the time. Our vision is pretty narrow and there’s nothing you can do about that. That’s how our bodies are engineered. If you look at a page of text that covers the entire screen, you’ll see that you can’t focus on everything at the same time. In fact, the focus is very narrow.

Two monitors are better than one, but are not twice as good

That brings into question why we’re using such a big screen, but let’s not forget our eyes move very fast, so covering one or two monitors without moving our head is possible, as long as those two monitors are not huge TV screens that span too much to the sides and vertically.

But I digress. Two monitors are better than one but are not twice as good. You won’t work twice as fast, that’s for sure. Depending on the apps you’re running, keeping a second app open and visible at all times can prove very efficient.

Sometimes this will help with making fewer mistakes, which is also tied up with being more productive since you don’t have to lose time correcting what you did wrong in the first place. Plus, some mistakes cost more than others.

Desktop Monitors vs Laptop Screens for Work

I don’t have much to say here, besides the fact I kind of hate working on a laptop.

Not using a laptop for work is a great productivity hack, if you ask me.

Sure, it’s the perfect device when you travel, and when you have to do occasional work, but for working full-time I think even a 15.6-inch screen is too small.

And don’t get me started on the bad posture and its effects on your health in the long run. Most professionals agree that working on a laptop too long is going to take a toll on your body sooner rather than later.

So yeah, desktop computer monitors are the way to go, even if you only use one.

What’s the Ideal Multi-monitor Setup?

I’ve tried a few setups over the years, but I may have finally found the one I’m most comfortable with: one big monitor right in front of me and one vertical smaller screen on one side.

This means I can focus on what I’m doing without having to keep my neck on one side and occasionally glance at the other screen to look at the secondary apps.

Dual monitor desktop setup - BinaryFork.com

My current setup consists of a 32-inch main monitor and a 24-inch portrait monitor on the right side. My office space prohibits me from using the second monitor on the left side, but I do reckon it would work pretty much the same.

Update: I’m now using three monitors: 27-inch 4K plus two 24-inch Full HD models (one portrait, one landscape. Initially, it seemed a bit too much, if you know what I mean, but I’ve quickly adjusted to the increased desktop space. I’m now thinking 4-monitor setups are too much, but who knows…

Now, how about you? How many monitors are you using? What’s their configuration and what changes do you plan on making in the future, if any? Let me know below.

Avatar for Ionuț-Alexandru Popa
I'm a writer and Editor-in-Chief at BinaryFork. I am passionate about technology, science, space exploration, and movies. I started writing about tech more than 20 years ago, after graduating in Computer Science.
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