Multiple Monitors: Are They Good For Everyone?

I am big fan of using multiple monitors. I find that it increases my productivity, especially when I am doing research or drafting. At my office, I use a three monitor setup. At home, I use a two monitor setup.

My monitors at the office

Recently, however, I read a post from in which the attorney tried a multiple monitor setup and did not like it. He explains:

At first, I used the second monitor just for email, so I could work on the other screen. Bad idea. Having email open all the time is the ultimate attention diverter. At time I felt like I was watching paint dry, just waiting for another email to come in. Big waste of time.

Then I switched to using the second monitor as my “always” calendar. That was nice and convenient, but again, a big attention waster and a waste of a monitor.

Using the two monitors to view two documents was not all that helpful either. One, the monitors were different sizes, different resolutions, and had different contrasts. I found myself comparing the two monitors constantly, rather than actually getting work done.

I agree that using the second monitor just to check email is not a good idea. That really makes you a slave to your email. However, I do often use the monitor for my calendar and contacts, so they are convenient. On suggestion I would make, however, is try and make sure that your additional monitors are the same shape and size (the same model is actually ideal). As the author noted, using monitors with different resolutions can be very distracting.

The author concludes:

I have been using one boring monitor for two months now, and I love it. Two monitors may impress people, but when it comes to actually using them, it is not worth the trouble or the cost.

I don’t agree with this conclusion. Multiple monitors are worth the trouble and the cost; at least for some people. Not everyone will benefit from using multiple monitors. I don’t find this unusual. Instead, I find it normal. Different people use their computers differently. The fact that I (and many others) find multiple monitors useful, does not mean that everyone will. However, I would suggest that, if you have not tried multiple monitors yet, don’t let the post dissuade you. Give them a try.

I have talked with several people about using multiple monitors. I have yet to have any of them tell me that they regretted making the move.