Why You Should Use Multiple Monitors

Phase 1 – 1 Monitor (1994 – 2012)

For years, I have used a single monitor and never thought twice about using 2 or more monitors.  From the time I first started using a computer (I think I was ~10 years old), it was mostly for email, web surfing or games.  Even as I started to teach myself various programming languages, I never felt the need to have more than one monitor.

I went through college with a single monitor and even through my first several years of developing software.  Then I started to notice something.  Even if I wasn’t multitasking (which I try to avoid as much as I can – another post on that to come later), I found myself needing to look at multiple things at one.  I needed to reference the requirements and/or design when developing a piece of software.  I needed to enter information from one source of data to another (ex. information about meetings from Outlook to the time tracking tool).

More and more situations began to emerge and I found myself trying to solve the problem.  I started printing things out, but I went through a lot of paper and ink and my desk became a mess.  I used Alt+Tab to switch between applications, but felt a lot of wasted effort and lost time doing this.

Phase 2 – 2 Monitors (~18 minutes)

So as I started planning to open my wine and liquor store, I decided it was time to purchase 2 monitors to replace my dated single 19″ Acer.  I looked around and found a great deal on ebay for (2) Viewsonic VX2250wm-LED 21.5″ monitors.  After tax and shipping, they came out to $125/monitor.  I picked up an EVGA GeForce 6200 graphics card from Amazon for ~$50 which would allow me to connect the two monitors.

Once I received the monitors and the new graphics card, it only took a few minutes to install.  I hooked up the two monitors and was instantly in love.  Not only were these 2 monitors larger than my previous one, I could have several more applications running at once.  After about 3 minutes of use, something dawned on me … I now had a third monitor that I wasn’t using (the 19″ Acer) and I still had another VGA connection on my computer (the computer had 1 VGA connection and the new graphics card had a VGA and a DVI).  So why not hook up all 3 monitors?

Phase 3 – 3 Monitors (2012 – Present)

So after the short-lived dual monitor setup, I had 3 monitors hooked up.  Now I didn’t  know what I would even do with 3 monitors (plus my laptop), but if nothing else I could display some amazing wallpapers.  So you will notice in the image below I had to open a few different applications just to show the setup off.


After using this setup for a few days, I could tell that 3 monitors was the way to go, so I ordered 1 additional ViewSonic monitor so the monitors would all be the same size (there might have been some OCD kicking in).

In the following months, I could not work without at least 2 monitors.  Whether it was developing a website, creating marketing materials, ordering inventory, doing accounting or whatever, I found that I could do it faster and more effective.  In the few hours outside of my day job and family time, I was able to get through everything I needed to run both the real estate business and the wine/liquor store.

 Some Example Uses:

These are just a few of the ways that I personally use my triple monitor setup.

Creating/Editing Website:

  • Monitor 1: Demo website with sample content/layout for reference/ideas
  • Monitor 2: Content Management System to create and edit content on the website
  • Monitor 3: Actual live website that can instantly be refreshed when changes are made

Creating Marketing Material:

  • Monitor 1: Sample marketing material either scanned in or found on the internet
  • Monitor 2: Application (Publisher, Photoshop, etc) being used to create marketing
  • Monitor 3: Dropbox open to folder of various marketing pieces for easy access

Morning Productivity:

  • Monitor 1: Tweetdeck/Seesmic Desktop with all my social media accounts
  • Monitor 2: RSS reader with RSS feeds that I subscribe to
  • Monitor 3: Gmail/Google Calender with new email and schedule for the day

Tom Sylvester is an Entrepreneur, Real Estate Investor and Lean/Agile Coach.  He has started multiple businesses and is passionate about helping others achieve their goals, both personally and professionally.  He lives in Rochester, NY with his wife and daughter.  Follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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