I usually push my PC, taxing its resources to their limits. This is shown by the jam-packed row of open programs lined up by my Start button. That list makes me feel busy and productive. I take full advantage of the ability Windows provides to switch between open programs by minimizing one program to maximize the window of another. I've become adept at using the Alt + Tab key to quickly change from program to program.
Several years ago, I bought the biggest monitor I could afford -a "20-incher." I wanted to have more than one program open on my screen without having to switch back and forth between programs. The new monitor helped: I had my Outlook email open on the left side of the screen while I worked on a letter in Microsoft Word on the right of the screen. Soon, I learned to arrange my open windows so that I could actually see three programs at once on my big monitor. But with three programs open, each window was smaller and required inconvenient scrolling.
I made the decision to cross over into a computing realm once reserved for the top echelon of serious of graphic designers: the dual monitor setup. It seemed extravagant -after all, why would a non-graphic-designer and non-air-traffic controller need multiple monitors?
The practicality of my new set up soon became obvious. The price was not exorbitant. As with all technology, the cost of flat-panel monitors has plummeted to a fraction of their introductory cost.
I have gained more workspace. Flat panel monitors now require a tiny footprint on one's desk as compared to the behemoth, desk-space-robbing CRT monitors of yesteryear.
I can now have a full screen of email and with a slight turn of my head see a screen split between my web browser and MS Word. It truly feels like I have a second computer.
With less time spent minimizing, moving and resizing the windows of my open programs, I'm certain I can quantify an increase in my productivity.
Setting up a dual monitor display is fairly simple. A representative at your local computer store can point out the required hardware -usually a dual-video adapter card that accommodates two monitors (less than $100) and, of course the second monitor of your choice.