I want to share with you something that feels like a very hot take in 2024. Something I didn’t think I would ever go back to.
I think I have returned to being a one monitor kind of guy.
For so long I gave my wife grief because she would never set up multiple screens and now I am seeing the light.
Last year we had a home office space shuffle at home which meant I was using my laptop in a few different places around the house. Our son’s bedroom, the dining room table, or out in the world at the library. Previously I was always all about a multi-monitor setup where the laptop connected to a second monitor for what I had always thought was the most productive way.
I also would have assumed that the next change would be in fact, adding a third monitor. When I last worked in an office, it was quite the flex to have a wall of monitors in front of you. It made you look so important and busy. But unless you have a job that requires close monitoring of something, having those extra screens is actually just a giant distraction.
But thanks to having to get used to only using my laptop again, I got used to the ease of one screen. And you know what, it’s not that bad. It’s still highly efficient and I don’t feel like I am slowing down. As long as I have a mouse, I am good.
In the age of multi-tasking and information overload, the debate over the number of monitors on your workstation is always a hot topic among productivity enthusiasts. I even jokingly told my friend about my thoughts and anticipated a blowback for such crazy talk.
While some swear by the efficiency of a dual-monitor setup, I am starting to stand firmly in the camp of simplicity and focus, advocating for the use of just one monitor. In this blog post, I am going to delve into the reasons why I believe one monitor reigns supreme, offering a number of benefits for productivity, ergonomics, cost-effectiveness, environmental impact, and aesthetics.
One of the most significant advantages of having a single monitor is the ability to immerse oneself fully in the task at hand. With only one screen to focus on, distractions are minimized, allowing for deep concentration and increased productivity. Unlike with multiple monitors, where the temptation to multi-task can be overwhelming, a single monitor encourages a more disciplined approach to work, leading to greater efficiency and better outcomes.
I used to spend so much time arranging what was on each monitor and remembering where everything was, I now see it was throwing me off from actually being focused. I admit, I had a pretty nice routine of what was on each screen, but it was a lot of work to get there. A reboot would mess it all up.
Also there is no more fumbling with settings when you move around from different spaces and setups and not having to set up the multi-desktop thing.
In addition to promoting focus, a single monitor setup also offers ergonomic benefits. With just one screen to view, there’s less strain on the neck and eyes, as there’s no need for constant head movement between multiple displays. This reduction in physical strain can lead to improved posture and overall comfort, making for a healthier and more sustainable work environment.
I have totally noticed the difference of looking straight all the time. No looking around. No adjusting for different heights. It’s much more like watching TV than before when you would be bouncing back and forth. I also feel I am sitting better and not adjusting my posture as much.
Now, while this isn’t that true for me as I am still using my laptop, just closed and not on my desk space, it is definitely cheaper to have less monitors. For those thinking of having many monitors, if you only have the one, there a lower initial investment required. Maintenance costs are also minimized compared to running and managing multiple monitors. By investing in a high-quality, larger single monitor, you can maximize both utility and value without breaking the bank.
But I will say, where you think you are saving by not having a lot of monitors, there is a good chance that money is going into an arm for your monitor or any of the nice accessories they have for monitors.
One area I have realized is not ideal with my one monitor setup is for the camera. When I need to do a video call, my camera is on the laptop, not my large monitor. So to truly have a smooth setup, I am going to need to purchase a camera to sit on top of my screen.
Beyond the financial considerations, choosing a single monitor setup can also have positive environmental implications. With fewer monitors in operation, energy consumption is reduced, leading to lower carbon emissions and a smaller ecological footprint. Additionally, by opting for a more minimalist approach to your workspace, you can help minimize electronic waste and contribute to a more sustainable future.
Last but not least, a single monitor setup offers the advantage of enhanced aesthetics. With fewer screens cluttering your workspace, you can create a clean, minimalist environment that promotes visual harmony and reduces distractions. This might be my favourite reason for moving back down to one monitor. It just looks nicer. When was the last time you were watching HGTV and you saw them set up a desk space with many monitors. They don’t. Because it looks busy and cluttered and stressful. I don’t want to be the guy in the Dumb Money movie with multiple screens. I am not a day trader. Furthermore, the flexibility of a single monitor allows for greater customization and personalization, enabling you to create a workspace that reflects your unique style and preferences.
Not having to move stuff around every time you bring your laptop back to your desk is nice. Having space for your tea is nice. An uncluttered desk is where it’s at and it all starts with less gear.
To wrap up this somewhat hot take, while the allure of multiple monitors may be tempting, I now firmly believe that simplicity is the key to unlocking maximum productivity and efficiency. By embracing a single monitor setup, you can enjoy the benefits of immersive focus, ergonomic efficiency, cost-effectiveness, environmental sustainability, and enhanced aesthetics. So before you rush to add another monitor to your workstation, consider the number of advantages of keeping it simple with just one screen. Your productivity—and your neck—will thank you for it.
If you don’t agree, let me know in the comments and why? Have a good one.