Thoughts by Bruno Bernardino

Going back to one monitor

How I ended 6 years of a multi-monitor habit

January, 2015


Since I started practicing minimalism and mindfulness, I’m always looking for the next thing that I can find is not essential, to declutter my house and mind.

Over the past 4 months I started reducing the use of my second screen.

After 2 months, I decided to just go ahead and turn it off.

It’s amazing how the less clutter allows me to focus more and single task, ending up in feeling more productive in my work, and practice mindfulness on it more frequently (since there’s not a ton of things going on at the same time).

Focus creates time. Time allows for new experiences.

Size matters

Before reducing the use of my second screen, I tried working a few days on my laptop (13”), as a kind of proof-of-concept.

For most things, it actually worked out fine. I was used to 27” + 24” screens, so it felt small, but it worked decently (not awesomely, how most work goes :D).

For the tasks that required me to constantly check more than one app (like coding front-end, where the browser, web inspector, and coding app need to be open), it was crippling. It didn’t work.

I realized it was more about the size of the monitor(s) than the number of monitors. Obviously, this has been debated before.

Single-task, single-task, single-task

Having multiple monitors, I always left one for “communications”, where the chat, To-Do, and apps of the like lived.

While it sounds like a great idea (and I loved it for a long time), no matter how responsible you are, it actually makes you lose focus from time to time, when you just glance to check if there’s anything important happening.

Those are crucial milliseconds, not because of their length, but because of the focus they can take away.

There are very rare situations where I need to “multi-task”, like while coding for front-end or in meetings, where I split-screen the 2 or 3 apps I need to constantly check (I split-screen the apps using window magnet). Splitting the screen is possible in a 27” screen, but not so much in a 13” one.

Focus

In sum, I’ve found myself less distracted and more focused on getting important things done with one monitor than with two.

It might not work for your situation, and I used to think it wouldn’t for mine, but still I suggest you give it a try. Shut down your secondary monitors, keep just the main one, and force yourself to use that one only, for at least a couple of weeks.

It was strange in the beginning, but it is paying off.


Bruno Bernardino

Written by Bruno Bernardino.
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