If you are anything like me, at any point in time you have several browser windows open at once, many different tabs open in each browser, and several other programs lurking in your computer’s task bar which you are constantly switching between.
I work on my computer a lot. I use many different programs depending on my task at hand. I am constantly monitoring different sources of information, from RSS feeds, several different email boxes, social networking streams, and different blog commenting threads.
All of this means that I have a lot going, computer-wise. Sometimes all of this going on at once really puts a damper on my productivity because I have a severe lack of ability when it comes to multitasking.
What I finally tried the other day has given me hope that this mass confusion and ill-fated attempts at getting things done can finally have an end! I finally broke down and tried to set up dual monitors in my home office setup. While I am still learning to use it properly, I have already noticed a massive difference in my level of concentration and productivity.
As a blogger, there are several ways to use such a setup (which I am still learning) but I think there are many different ways a dual monitor setup can help someone be more productive. Here are 6 of them:
1. Working and previewing at the same time
While working on a project (or article), you can set up dual monitors to use one monitor to work and use the other for previewing your work. For instance, when blogging using WordPress, if you hit preview, a separate window (make sure you open it in a separate window as opposed to a tab) will open containing a preview of your article so far. If you set up that window in the second monitor, every time you hit preview the page will just refresh. That way there is no switching between tabs or windows! A similar setup can be useful for a design professional.
2. Testing in multiple types of browsers
You can use a different browser in each monitor. For instance, I am currently using Firefox on one monitor and Chrome on the other (sorry Microsoft!).
I am doing that because certain sites run better or smoother on Chrome while I still enjoy the extensions and usability of Firefox but a coder or designer may be interested in viewing their work in multiple browsers simultaneously in order to see how it looks in each.
3. Testing multiple screen resolutions (color settings, etc.)
Yes, you CAN have different settings on each monitor. For designers this could be an awesome help! It all depends on what you need to see. If you have a hard time reading, set the resolution a bit lower on the one you do reading from and keep the other one at a more reasonable resolution.
4. Making a lot of phone calls & recording data at the same time
If you are constantly running down a phone list, it may be helpful to have a list constantly open in one monitor while working or recording data in the other one. Not having to constantly hit Alt-Tab (to switch between windows) or Ctrl-Tab (to switch between tabs) saves a LOT of time, believe it or not. Also it’s harder to lose your place if the view is never lost.
5. Getting work done while keeping up with what’s going on
I’m currently doing this one! I like having the ability to work while glancing up to see who’s saying what on Twitter or Facebook. I also like keeping my email off to the side for glancability without losing my place on what I am working on. Plus I like to keep my RSS reader over there.
I suppose someone could also keep the news on a separate monitor so you can keep up with it while working.
6. Being entertained while working
Today’s Internet allows you to watch many TV shows online. That doesn’t even count sites like YouTube! You can also have a movie in your DVD drive. I suppose you can be entertained on the side while working. Please note, this could be taken both ways. You can look at it like it’s stupid because you’ll be distracted and obviously lose any resemblance of productivity OR you can see it as a way to at least get SOMETHING done during down time.
To be honest, I’ve tried having video on while trying to work and I can’t do it, however I am sure there are those of you out there who can pull off some sort of light work while being entertained.
If you have the room, and you can afford it, go ahead and give dual monitors a try. I’m loving it so far! AND if you have any more productivity tips using dual monitors, let us know!