Is your computer screen too small for all you have to do? If you are working with multiple programs and browser windows open, with social media running in the background, you may be using every bit of real estate on the screen. That is where the idea of having two monitors comes in to play. Having dual monitors gives you more room for each program and web browser.
I like to use two monitors when I am writing. Having one screen open to my word processor and the other to my research materials makes it easy to read my notes or consult websites and other documents while writing. Dual monitors can also make it easier to check for changes and corrections when proofreading a document.
Those extra seconds spent repeatedly clicking or switching between programs as you work can really add up, and you will work more slowly than when you have the space to have everything you need displayed neatly in front of you on dual monitors.
A second screen may also come in handy for monitoring social media, email or instant messaging without having to leave what you are working on. If I want to watch a video of a webinar or an online course, I can play it on one screen while I work on something else on the other screen.
Dual monitors are not without their disadvantages, though. The very things that can make you more productive can have a negative impact on your productivity if you let them. It can turn your desktop into the computer version of Bloomberg News, where there is so much happening on the screen you can not process all of it. If you are easily distracted, having your Twitter feed or other social media constantly changing in front of you can keep you from doing any real work. It is up to you to make sure that your second monitor makes you more productive, not less.
How does it work? I have a second monitor that I sometimes connect to my laptop PC. After plugging the monitor in to my laptop, I right click on the desktop background and choose Graphics Properties. From that menu, I choose Multiple Displays or Extended Desktop. (The exact choices will depend on your operating system and hardware.) Once the settings are applied I can move my mouse between screens as if I had one large monitor. To move a window from one screen to another, I just grab it with my mouse and drag it to the other screen. Cool!
Although many computers can now accommodate dual monitors, if yours doesn’t you may need to upgrade your video card. Added to the expense of the second monitor, you can be out several hundred dollars. The investment can be worth it if you get more done in less time, often with better quality. However, if your major advantage is being able to play Angry Birds during an online client meeting, it is probably not worth the money.
If you are satisfied with the amount of space on your screen than you may decide that dual monitors are not necessary. Let me warn you, though: Once you have worked with two monitors you will not want to go back to just one!
Image Credit: MrChrome at en.wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], from Wikimedia Commons