Screens and Productivity, Correlating much?
That’s one of the biggest question I had trouble to find an answer for, aren’t we all?
I mean you may have a current set up which you believe is absolutely fine but at the end of the day are you effectively more productive ?
Hey, I’m *** and I’m a screenaholic, It has been 280 days that I didn’t use more than I actually need.
Indeed, I used to rock a 4 screens set up for on my desktop and I thought to be the most productive guy on the planet. I was close to invest to smoothen the screens brand, and to invest in a screen stand which are rather costly for what they do. Especially when you get into the 27 inches territory.
Although, Life decided that I needed to move in a temporary tiny flat and that for 6 months.
That tiny flat forced me to daily move my freshly acquired iMac out of the dinning table and the table being small I had only the iMac screen to work on.
And I came to realize I was just as productive with 1 screen or close to be rather than a numerous amount of screens.
Don’t be mistaken my 4 past screens set up was perfectly reasonably justified.
1 – 1 Side screen for emails / Skype – Bad
2 – 1 Screen for chrome with specific web apps – Useless
3 – 1 Main Screen for all main things
4 – 1 Screen for multimedia (music clips, spotify, movies) – Worse of the worse
If you pay attention to your behavior, you came to realize that your focus is on one or two screens at most and sometimes you may spend hours on a side screen with your neck flicked to it. (especially for big sized screens)
Haven’t you this boring task to do and thinking you may as well watch a movie while doing it ? After all you have the dedicated screen for it. Then the movie is too good leading you to drag your movie to your main screen and forget about this boring task.
What does the studies say about productivity and numbers of screens?
And so I came to realize that a great numbers of screens is unhealthy and started some research about it.
Conclusion of these studies is rather negative speaking of productivity but the user experience was better on dual screen set up.
Yet, some others studies wrapped up in a linkedin posts, with different tasks and different organisms, reported up tp a 50% gain to use a dual screen set up.
Which is rather confusing. Basically, we have studies contradicting one another while stating the obvious that a dual screen set is more productive.
Besides stating the obvious until now as in there is an obvious productivity gain using at a dual screen set up, I can’t help to think that there is more. I mean some studies could be biased from the start for sure to try to prove their pessimist initial assumptions, but still.
So far all the studies have proven is that the benefit in productivity gain to use a dual screen set up is more likely task specific.
So studies doesn’t help much, what now?
Here comes my finding on LifeHacker where actually, an article changed the way to approach of a multi screen set up.
The article is the only one I found mentioning the productivity isn’t necessarily tied to the quantity screens actually but more about the resolution and the quantity of pixels.That’s a very interesting angle to the question actually.
Now, some of users I know completely moved out a multi screen set up to a single 4K screen which can actually replace 4 screens in 1080p resolution.
Now there are 2 issues with such a high resolution. The font is very small and it is hard to read and therefore the screen size would play a factor.
For me 27″ in 4k isn’t useable my eyes are burning after 1 hour.
The second issue being that you need a good windows manager as it is extremely not convenient to resize & drag the windows to find its best suiting. Starting from Windows 10 the default windows manager is pretty decent.
On Mac, there are a couple of handy tools you could use such as Spectacle which allows you to snap windows to a preconfigured configured position, and Display Menu allowing you change the resolution with numbers rather than “Less / More Spaces” default settings and you can go above the default supplied resolutions.
Conclusion: No real proves of a productivity gain with a 3+ screen set up. And it seems above all to be a source of losing of focus and big neck aches.
I also know how great it is to want to rock the coolest set up on earth and It is generally the genuine and irrational reason to always want more screens.
I do have my doubts on the set up, and whether they are using all their screens for work. But let’s face it looks very cool and I love it:
Of course, it remains tasks specific but the point of the article is to question your current set up if you are using more than 2 screens to see whether you achieve enough or whether it could be optimized.
In Internet Marketing you need a lot of things and not at the same time and therefore, I do see a gain for at least a Dual Screen set up at least for Windows users which also owns a Windows VPS they need frequent access to.
The ideal number of screens remains of course tasks specific and according to the user preferences. How far you are sitting from the screen, how is your eyes sight, and the gear you have. However, having a pixel approach sounds more effective rather than thinking of a number of screens.
What about you guys, how many screens are you rocking?