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.
- 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
- 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