Many years ago, I made a move that will change how I utilize my computer(s) for good.
Yesterday, I posted a blog post about Mouse Without Borders – a program that lets you use one mouse/keyboard to control multiple separate computers. However, what if you only have one computer? Did you know that there have been multiple studies (like this and this) showing the increased efficiency and productivity through using a two (or dual) monitor setup at work or home? It is true and totally awesome.
When I purchased my first self-funded computer in the middle of college, I discovered this dual-monitor configuration and through the years, the many benefits it gives to the user. While this has been possible for years with modern graphics cards, HDMI, and DVI – it has grown in popularity and use.
To describe what dual monitor setup is pretty simple, but profound. It is two monitors…connected to your computer (or one connected to your laptop, etc). As you use your computer, you are no longer confined to a single document, webpage, or activity – your desktop now spans two large areas of screen real estate. Users are able to drag windows, applications, and other tools back and forth between the two windows with ease.
How can I use this at work?
Have you ever been working on a report, project, or presentation but are needing to reference another window for data or information? Stop switching between windows and be more productive by having your reference material on one monitor and your project on the other. Your eyes will be able to scan to both pages seamlessly, you will make fewer mistakes, and get things done more quickly.
Here is another example that I use frequently at work – I use one monitor to work with students at my desk. I can move it to a place where my student or family can see the info I am talking about. Whether it is info about a college, working on their 4 year plan within Naviance, or showing a parent their student’s current grades – being able to see the info on this second monitor increases the level of info shared.
The possibilities are endless and the effort to make this change is small. If you are working with one monitor currently (or only on a laptop), work with your admin or district to fund the secondary monitor – see recommendations at the end of the article. They are all nearly plug-n-play and if there is any struggle with getting it setup, you can contact your IT or on site computer guru! You can also feel free to email me any questions and I can attempt to assist.
How to make this experience even better:
This concept can be taken to (awesome) extremes!
There are a few applications that further improve your experience with the dual monitor setup. Programs like UltraMon and DisplayFusion bring features like setting individual taskbars on each monitor, add the ability to have one large wallpaper spread the width of both screens (instead of mirroring the same image on both), and quick buttons to move a window between the monitors. These two programs are either for pay or have a paid version, but you may find the cost worth the benefits.
Another tip to improve the system is to buy two of the same monitors (or at least monitors that support the same screen dimensions). This will let the transition between the two monitors be more natural. This is mostly an aesthetic suggestion, but you may find it helpful if you are getting into this setup from scratch.
If you have not experienced this yet – do yourself a favor and get an early Christmas gift this year and purchase a second monitor at work or at home.