Boosting productivity is no easy task. We're inundated with calls, e-mails, and now, Slack messages. But a three-monitor setup can go a long way in changing that.

For the last several years, I've been using three monitors to manage my daily workflow. The main monitor in the middle is a 27-inch screen, and it's flanked by two other 27-inch monitors on the left and right. That's plenty of screen real estate, for sure. But without it, I'm lost.

Not too long ago, I was traveling and I needed to get some work done. Left without the help of my three monitors, I was forced to turn to my MacBook Pro's 15-inch screen. In my daily life, I'm often tabbing back and forth between windows, checking e-mail, and Slacking with co-workers. When I was using my MacBook Pro to do that, everything took longer.

Whereas I normally look at one screen or another in my standard setup, on my MacBook Pro, I was forced to minimize windows, use keyboard shortcuts to jump around apps, and finally, I had to reduce the window sizes to show more on the single screen. It was a nightmare.

A three-monitor setup solves those problems.

But don't take my word for it. In 2017, Fujitsu Siemens Computers published a study that analyzed whether multiple monitors boosted productivity. The company found that two monitors increased productivity by 25 percent compared to single-monitor setups. Three monitors increase productivity by 35.5 percent.

When I'm at peak productivity, I'm using the screen in front of me as my main, active display. I'm using it right now to write this column. I might also use it to review contracts, write up documents, or evaluate spreadsheets.

My right monitor, which for no apparent reason, is the one I use the least, is where I keep my e-mail. Living in the browser, my e-mail is readily accessible to my right and the place I'll click over to when I want to see what's happening in my world.

Interestingly enough, I also put my Slack window on the right screen. Since it's smaller than my e-mail window, I can do double duty and interact with Slack while I'm looking over it at my e-mail.

To the left is my utility screen. I use it for research, checking the news, or anything else I might need to complement what I'm doing on the main screen. Suffice it to say, the browser running on my left display is critical.

Of course, in today's work environment, using multiple screens is nothing new. Companies often give employees two monitors to do work on and in many cases, you'll hear employees say they can't live without the setup.

But I'm here to tell you that two monitors is too few. And if you really want to boost your productivity, three monitors is critical.

In today's work environment, we interact with too many apps -- and not enough content in the outside world. One monitors were ideal when we were analyzing items that lived in the physical world and input information about them in our computers. But in a digital-first world, everything lives on the screen. And trying to jump between windows to get work done is impossible.

But don't take my word for it. In 2017, Fujitsu Siemens Computers published a study that analyzed whether multiple monitors boosted productivity. The company found that two monitors increased productivity by 25 percent compared to single-monitor setups. Three monitors increase productivity by 35.5 percent.

Of course, there are downsides to using three monitors. You need to have enough room on your desk and it can be a power drag. But that's a small price to pay for dramatically improving productivity.

So, give three monitors a try. It might take some time to get used to the experience, but once you do, you'll never look back.

Published on: May 9, 2019
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