Looking for ways to increase your work output and accomplish more every day?
Some swear by multiple screens, but you might wonder if that’s just another form of multitasking. And if you’re a productivity geek, you’ve probably heard that multitasking actually increases the time it takes to complete tasks.
Multitaskers might think that they’re performing multiple tasks simultaneously, but in actuality their brains are just switching attention from task to task very rapidly. And every single time the brain switches its focus, it takes time to readjust to the new task and hit its stride. While that refocusing may only take a fraction of a second, those seconds can add up quickly if you’re constantly switching between tasks, reducing your productivity by about 40%.
Knowing that, it may be hard to believe that paying attention to multiple computer screens can actually improve your productivity. Don’t we have enough to pay attention to on one screen? What about the time it takes to switch your attention between screens?
But some studies show that adding a monitor could boost your work output by 20 to 30%.
With multiple monitors, you can see all the information you need in front of you at once, instead of clicking around or hitting awkward keyboard shortcut combinations to find what you need.
But don’t expect an automatic productivity boost just by hooking up another monitor — it all depends on how you use it.
The trick is in pixel management: learning how to optimize the screen real estate you have to perform the tasks you need. And of course, your specific setup will depend on the type of work you do and the information you need in front of you. While an app developer might need three or four monitors to optimize their workflow, a writer might just prefer two for writing and research.
Confused about which monitor setup is right for you, and how you can optimize your screens for the best productivity boost? Check out the research-based tips below, and you’ll be able to reduce your multitasking and boost your output with multiple screens.
How to Use Multiple Screens to Get More Work Done
Switching between windows and tabs while working might only take a second, but when you compound these seconds over the course of a day, a month, a year – surely there’s a more efficient way to work?
Multi-screens: productivity boosters
—How long it takes to move from one tab or window to another
A University of Utah study found that people working on multiple screens were:
- 6% quicker at getting on with the job
- 7% faster at doing the work
- 10% more productive
- And had:
- 33% fewer errors
Multi-screens have also been found to be:
- 24% more comfortable to use
- 45% easier for task tracking
- 28% easier for task focusing
- 38% easier for moving around data
How to make the most of your multi-screens
Here are a few industry specific examples of how to make multi-screens work for you:
Increased productivity, efficiency and ROI: keywords that will bring a smile to every manager’s face.
- Compare documents at a glance and save time from not toggling between windows and tabs.
- Extend long spreadsheets over two screens and save scrolling time.
- Have emails and task lists opened up on your secondary screen and use the primary screen for your main work.
Expand your blank canvas, and expand your possibilities.
- Refer to reference material without toggling back and forth.
- Edit detailed sections on one monitor while seeing the finished product on the other.
- Work with multiple creative programs simultaneously.
Picture and video editors
Never miss a pixel by having enough space to zoom in, out and around.
- Place editing tools on one screen while using the other for actual editing.
- View images at different monitor resolutions and color settings simultaneously.
- Prevent mistakes in video editing while viewing the video in full-size preview before burning to Blu-ray or DVD.
Get a real-time feel for your work in progress.
- Have your development environment running on one screen and your application running on the other.
- Test websites on multiple browsers simultaneously.
- Compare code or documents quickly and easily.
Tips for successful multi-screening
Different operating systems have their own perks and shortcuts when it comes to multi-screens:
Mac OS X Mavericks
View a program in both monitors by going to ‘Mission Control’ and choosing whether or not programs should have separate ‘Spaces’.
Tell an app which screen to open on by creating an additional ‘Space’ in ‘Mission Control’, right click the app and choose to assign it to the desired desktop.
To view the menu on both displays, go to ‘System Preferences’ and then ‘Displays’. Change options in the ‘Arrangement’ tab.
Set your Apple TV as your second screen through AirPlay. Just make sure both devices are on the same local network.
Switch Windows 8 App to any monitor by going to the upper left corner of the monitor you choose, bring up the ‘App Switch List’ and switch the app from there.
Move Windows 8 apps across monitors by using Win + Pg Up & Win + Pg Down as keyboard shortcuts.
Launch Start screen on any monitor by changing the settings in the ‘Charm’ bar.
Show taskbar on all displays by selecting that choice in ‘Taskbar Properties’.
“There is no waste in the world that equals the waste from needless, ill-directed, and ineffective motions.” — Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Sr.
- Triple Monitor Madness – extremetech.com
- Tips for Using Multiple Displays in OS X Mavericks – macworld.co.uk
- 6 Ways to Set up Dual Monitors to Be More Productive – makeuseof.com
- Add a Second Monitor – mobileoffice.about.com
- 7 Windows 8 Tips to Make Better Use of Dual Monitors – nextofwindows.com
- Benefits of Multiple Monitors – sewelldirect.com
- 10 Reasons Why You Need Dual Monitors – techradar.com
- Productivity and Multiscreen Displays – toriandesign.com
- What Are the Usability Benefits of Using Multiple Monitors? – ux.stackexchange.com
- Using an External Preview Monitor – videomaker.com
- Work and Play Better with Multiple Monitors – windows.microsoft.com
- Popular Science Monthly, Vol 91 No 4, October 1917 – books.google.co.uk