Cheap Productivity Booster: Add a monitor

Sometimes I am doing so many things at one time that I lose track of where I am and need to stop and scan my environment for clues to what I was last doing. Because each of us at SOS wears so many hats, most of us multitask every day. We have found a simple and inexpensive way to increase productivity.

First I must tell you that I resisted doing this for about a year. Seth and Manon had both expanded their world view as had two of our programmers before I decided it was something that might be useful. This simple solution is adding a second monitor to your desktop.

Okay, okay…I know. What could you possibly need with a second monitor? After all, your desktop is already hopelessly cluttered with stacks of paper (at least, if it is like mine it is) and there is no available real estate for adding something as silly as a monitor. That is what I thought. Then I added one.

Now I am able to spread the six or eight applications that I keep open all the time across two screens so I can see and use multiple programs at one time. This is especially useful if I am working in bookkeeping and spreadsheets simultaneously. I can go back and forth from one program to the other by turning my head and clicking. In the past, I could only view a small window into each application if I wanted both on my screen at one time.

One Monitor
One Monitor

You can see how scrunched things are above.  Below is the image of two monitors, side by side. My two open programs shown overlapping on the screen above have now gone to five open programs plus Google Sidebar. I still have several other items in my program tray that are not currently maximized, but with the two monitor arrangement, I can easily see my multiple tasks at one time.

Two Monitors
Two Monitors


This is especially useful for those of you who keep a product (like SOS Software or some other mental health billing software) active on your computer all the time. You need it there ready in case you have a phone call from a client, so you can check someone in when they arrive to see their psychotherapist, so you can enter their payment when they leave. But today you are also actively writing letters in your word processor, you are working on spreadsheets you have created by exporting some of your reports from Office Manager, and you are occasionally checking your email. With two monitors, all those tasks can be visible at one time!

To add the second monitor, you need to be sure you have adequate inputs on the computer box. Then use the Windows Control Panel > Display Properties > Settings to select which monitor is primary and to verify the appropriate settings. Just Google ‘dual monitors xp’ or ‘dual monitors vista’ without the quotation marks to get guidance from Microsoft about just what to do in your operating system.

We all have too much to do, so finding the most efficient and cost effective ways to get that work done is very high priority. Let us know what kind of steps you have taken to increase your efficiency. Have you considered multiple monitors?

To enter you comments, just click on the title of this article and enter your thoughts in the box at the bottom of the page.

0 thoughts on “Cheap Productivity Booster: Add a monitor

  • Mike Varney says:

    Not an option for everyone, but my productivity was increased by going to a Mac. But seriously, after switching, I find myself fighting much less with my system. I have to run an XP VM (virtual machine) for a couple tools I need for my job, but otherwise everything else is native or via Java.

    — M

    • Certainly not an inexpensive option, Mike. I am sure for some people it is a great way to go. I have never used a Mac but find that some people have a strong preference for them. As a psychologist, I wonder if there are certain personality characteristics or certain brain function styles that prefer the Mac OS. We have a few SOS customers who use our products in a virtual machine, but even most of our customers who prefer Mac use our products on PCs.

      All that said, the screen real estate would be the same and multiple monitors would increase ease of access no matter the OS. Thanks for adding your comments.

  • Kathy,
    That is a fantastic suggestion! It will be very helpful with my real estate websites, software and applications, as well. It should save me a lot of time and aggravation.

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