Image credit: Brett Morrison/Flickr
The dual-monitor setup is an enticing way to make it look like you're extra-productive. Multiple monitors just scream power user. Practically, however, the set-up can be more of a hindrance than a help. What if using a single display allowed you to improve your focus and get even more work accomplished?
That's what developer Cory House discovered after he got rid of his second monitor. Initially, House experimented with LG's 86cm widescreen display, but found its width encouraged the time-wasting habit of repeatedly fiddling with window sizes to fit multiple apps on a single screen. He settled on a 61cm 4K monitor combined with virtual desktop functionality, eliminating the need to constantly shift his attention from one side of the screen to another.
While he still has the same windows open, the virtual desktop eliminates the annoyance of looking at multiple monitors. "The far left virtual desktop is always my browser, the one to the right is my editor," wrote House. "So I treat virtual desktops like physical screens that reliably present the same content." Virtual desktops make it easy to keep apps and accounts separate, and Windows 10 users can customise their virtual desktop experience with a bit of software.
The simplification of his workspace helped him get work done even when he wasn't in his office. Since he pared his screen number down to one, House was able to rely on the same window arrangement and virtual desktop function on his laptop.
It isn't surprising that reducing the number of monitors can help you get more work done. After all, use of multiple monitors enables multitasking, which can actually reduce your productivity.
Consider the negative effects multitasking has on the brain, like decreased functional memory, or increased time needed when switching between tasks. The very idea of "multitasking" is erroneous: in reality you're simply switching focus from activity to activity, an action shown to decrease your ability to discard irrelevant information.
Dividing your attention and focus by multitasking can make you more distracted, and hinder your ability to perform well at any one task. Studies claiming increases in productivity due to a multi-monitor setup aren't always legitimate, especially considering the ones funded by companies like Dell and NEC, who both manufacture desktop monitors. It doesn't mean you have to ditch your monitor and start working on screens the size of iPads, but paring down your workspace to one display could prove more beneficial than having a command center at your disposal.
Why I Stopped Using Multiple Monitors [Hackernoon]