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.
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