Is your computer screen big enough?

Computer

Takeaway: Microsoft has found that a bigger, or second computer monitor makes you about 9% more productive. If you do a lot of computer work, a bigger (or second) monitor might be a great investment.

Estimated Reading Time: 1 minute, 29s.

I recently bought a big, honking new computer monitor. Over the last year I’ve grown accustomed to writing and working on my 13″ MacBook Pro, but I recently felt the urge to pony up for the new 27″ screen—more than double the screen real estate on my laptop.

And holy cow, what a difference.

Productivity is inherently difficult to quantify. Especially when knowledge work is involved, it’s much more of an art than a science. For example, it might feel effortless to write while using the bigger screen, but what if the words are crap? (The Gettysburg address was, after all, only 272 words!) But I have noticed that the extra real estate has made me more efficient at a lot of the tasks that used to feel cramped—like moving information around, cross-referencing documents, reading long research studies, and more. And I’m not the only one who feels this way.

According to Microsoft, increasing how much screen real estate you have—whether by buying a bigger monitor, or by using two screens instead of one—is a surefire way to become more productive. The company has found that users are at least 9% more productive with a bigger monitor—while that may sound like a small number, that is equivalent to 45 minutes of improved productivity over the course of an eight hour day. (They discovered a 50% improvement in productivity in some users, but that figure only measured the speed of simple tasks like copying and pasting.)1

If your job involves a lot of computer work, picking up a larger, or second monitor may be worth it.

A bigger screen may not make you better at your job—but if you need the space, it will probably make you more efficient.


  1. Sources: Toward Characterizing the Productivity Benefits of Very Large Displays; Two Screens Are Better Than One

  • Andy M

    Wait ’til you upgrade to dual 27″ Chris, then you’ll really know what desktop real estate feels like! I can’t imagine going back to a single monitor. I tend to use one for focus task, then have source material, calendar, evernote etc running on the second.

    • Oh man, I’m tempted. May have to bite the bullet!!

  • SRK

    Yes, you are absolutely right. I work a lot on computers and handle a kind of job that need referring to many different websites and need to keep multiple windows open. One suggestion i made right at the beginning was to get a second monitor and boy did it help !!!. We could get a lot more done in the same time and more accuracy and quality. Now that i am used to that setup, I hook up my home PC monitor to my lappy using the other port on the monitor, when i work at home.

  • Poom Pitichat

    After I read this post, I bought a Dell 24″ monitor to connect to my MacBook Pro. The one I got has an awesome feature which I can flip from a horizontal screen and make it into a vertical screen! I love working with multiple screens now — super easy to read articles and work on different documents :)

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