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

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