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Bigger Is Better: How Large Monitors Can Change Workflow

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There are some things that we assume everyone knows. You can estimate the length of a second by saying “one mississippi.” If there is food on the floor, an unsupervised dog will eat it. And increasing the size of your screen increases your productivity.

Amazingly though, people don’t seem to know this. You can walk into offices just about anywhere that have marble floors, well-dressed staff, and competitive salaries—and see people hunched over tiny screens.

Writing for PCMag.com, Tim Bajarin sings the praises of a larger desktop screen:

[My old] 24-inch monitor did its job, though it was difficult to have more than two documents on the screen simultaneously. So earlier this year I obtained what I consider to be a game-changer: a 34-inch curved Dell monitor. I could not believe what a difference it makes in the way I work.

This is a guy whose bio says he “is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts, and futurists covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology.” I guess if he “could not believe what a difference” a bigger screen makes, the layman can be forgiven for not knowing.

But now you know. An industry expert told you. And we’ve already covered the incredible benefits of more screen real estate here on The Methodology Blog. But chances are you won’t go out and buy a new screen (or a second monitor. Or a third one.) So, let’s do a little math.

Large Monitor and Workstation

© Flickr user Fabrice Florin

At press time, Bajarin reports that you can buy the 34-inch monitor from Dell for $899. PCMag’s recommendation on the best 24-inch monitor of the year is $219. That’s a difference of $680.

Suppose your hourly salary is a paltry $10 an hour, and your efficiency only improves by 10% with the bigger screen. That means it will take 680 hours (about four months of full time work) for your screen to pay for itself. After that you’re getting more productivity for no additional cost.

Of course, you make more than that. And you’d better believe that Bajarin wouldn’t be saying this is a “game changer” for only a 10% increase. It’s a no-brainer to spend the extra few hundred dollars to increase your productivity. So why don’t people do it?

It’s Bigger Than Bigger Screens

It might seem like this is just about monitors, but upgrading to something better is a problem everywhere in technology. Think about the computer on your desk. Chances are that machine is about five and half years old. A new computer might cost the same as a week’s salary, but it would have a dramatic impact on your productivity. Not only do new computers run faster, they also have fewer problems and don’t require as much maintenance.

Likewise, chances are good your mobile phone is worn out. And it’s not just information technology: newer cars are significantly more fuel efficient than their older counterparts. The same is true for virtually any other complex piece of tech you use every day.

The crisis is that we get accustomed to doing things the way we’ve always done them with the tools we’re used to using. New resources are often better, but only if we take the time to acquire them and learn to use them. Remember: the tool you actually use is always better than the better one you don’t use. But it’s always worth at least considering investing in your productivity.

Go out and buy a bigger screen. Or, buy a second or third screen to add to your workstation. But more important: ask what would make you more productive. Do you need to work from somewhere else besides the office? Do you need fewer distractions? Do you need better support from colleagues? Or do you need to learn more about the tools you already have?

It’s always a good time to think about better tools. Review what you have, and decide what to do. You’ll either end up saving time, or planning for the future.

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Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter is a workflow and productivity expert. He is a nationally known speaker on topics related to personal productivity, corporate efficiency and employee engagement. Robby is the founder of AccelaWork, a company which provides speakers and consultants to a wide variety of organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, regional non-profits, small businesses and individual entrepreneurs. Robby has written numerous articles for national magazines and has over one hundred published pieces. He is also the author of several books, including Failure: The Secret to Success. He has also been interviewed by international news outlets including the Wall Street Journal. Robby’s newest book is The Battle For Your Email Inbox.
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