HomeGadgetsCan Having Multiple Monitors Increase Productivity?

Can Having Multiple Monitors Increase Productivity?

Using one monitor at a time? So 2010s. Jokes aside, it’s become undeniably common to see people using two, three, or even four computer monitors at once. Some people use multi-monitor setups for gaming, others for work, others for creative projects (or all three).

Presumably, these multi-monitor users aren’t just showing off, so what benefits do they gain from using dual, triple, or quadruple-monitor setups? It turns out there are a lot of potential upsides to multi-monitor life! Up ahead, our guide to the world of multiple monitors will help you understand this increasingly common office practice. 

How Does a Multi-Monitor Setup Work?

Multi-monitor setups have two commonly used modes: mirrored display and extended display.

Mirrored mode simply creates an identical copy of your primary screen on the secondary screen, which is often much larger. This is a popular option for trainings, product demo sessions, and presentations, as well as for people connecting their laptop to a larger display.

Extended mode instead allows the user to work with multiple monitors as if they were one single screen. This mode is generally more popular and versatile, and it’s how most people use their multi-monitor setups. You’ll have the option to extend the display left, right, up, or whichever way suits your fancy. It’s perfect for anyone who needs access to multiple information flows at once, and it works on both laptop and desktop computers.

Potential Benefits of Using Multiple Monitors

Obviously, not everyone needs a multi-monitor workstation. However, there’s a growing trend toward them, for the simple reason that multiple monitors really can be a genuine game-changer for people in a wide variety of industries and professions.

One study on the use of multiple monitors found that workers might be able to improve productivity by as much as 42 percent when using a multi-monitor workstation. Capturing even a small percentage of that potential increase could be a true breakthrough for anyone’s productivity, thanks to benefits such as:

  • Less Window Switching: Since a single display often isn’t large enough to display all the windows you need at once, workers often have to toggle endlessly back and forth between multiple windows. This can be especially annoying when executing cut-and-pastes or click-and-drags from one window to another. Multiple monitors reduce the time that many people spend switching windows by 15 percent, according to a Wichita State University study.
  • Multi-Tasking Workflows: Do you like to keep a notes document open during video conferences? Have an open Teams or Slack chat window while you’re working on other projects in case something comes up? Watch Curb Your Enthusiasm in the background while you clean out your inbox? All of these workflows (and many others) can benefit from the possibilities of more than one monitor.
  • Lower Eye Strain: Working on a single screen, especially a small one, can be an unpleasant experience for anyone who needs to look at lots of small details while they work. Using multiple monitors gives workers’ eyes a break and allows them more room to spread out their apps and documents.
  • Redundancy: Setups that use two or more monitors can offer a redundant backup if your main monitor goes out. Hopefully, you’ll never need this benefit — but if you do, you’ll thank yourself for thinking ahead and giving yourself the means to salvage some productivity until you can restore your normal setup.

Finally, if you’re adding multiple monitors to your home office setup, consider the personal benefits as well as the professional ones! Some gamers like to use multi-display systems for ultra-widescreen gaming, which can look truly awesome and deliver a new level of game immersion.

Potential Benefits of Using Multiple Monitors

Setting Up Multiple Monitors

Multi-monitor workstations might look highly advanced and technical, but they’re actually quite simple to set up. These are the basic steps for getting multiple monitors set up in your workstation:

  • We’ll start by assuming you’ve already got one monitor in place. Take your second monitor and set it up next to the first one. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different angles and positions for the monitors until you find one you like.
  • Plug in your new monitor to its power source and then connect it to your computer. Both monitors should be connected to your computer now. The easiest way to connect monitors is usually via HDMI, but USB-C ports are becoming more common as some integrate DisplayPort capabilities. If your computer doesn’t have enough ports or the right ports, you might need an HDMI splitter or another type of adapter.
  • The next stage is slightly different on PC and Mac, but the process is generally similar. Access your computer’s settings and click the option to change display settings. You’ll find options that allow you to set which monitor acts as your primary display, change the orientation of your displays, change aspect ratios, and more.
  • Enjoy your cool new multi-monitor workstation!

Choosing Monitors for a Multi-Display Workstation

Choosing Monitors for a Multi-Display Workstation

The monitors you use can make a big difference in the productivity gains your multi-display system can deliver. Here are some characteristics to look for when choosing monitors for this purpose:

  • Size: Since two monitors occupy considerably more desk real estate than one, you’ll want monitors with a size and form factor that fits your needs. Most users prefer two of the same size display for consistency’s sake, but there’s usually no reason one can’t be larger than the other. That might even be desirable if you’ll be using mirror mode for presentations.
  • Orientation: Some multi-monitor users like having a vertically oriented monitor as one of their displays. This is especially popular for coding and for people who keep a chat window open while they’re working.
  • Resolution: Typically, to avoid a distracting difference, you’ll want two monitors running at the same resolution. 1080p Full HD is the standard today, and just about every modern monitor supports it. However, most people using a main monitor in 1440p, 4k, or even more will want to choose one that offers the same resolution.
  • Bezels: Monitors with the smallest bezels possible are generally the most desirable option for side-by-side monitor configurations. This will give your setup a unified look that minimizes the distracting space in between monitors — and it’s a must if you’ll also be using your monitors for widescreen gaming.

If you’ve never tried working with multiple monitors, it’s worth exploring! Even if you don’t think you need it, you might be surprised at the improvements it can create in your workflow.

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