Increase Your Monitor Size – Increase Your Productivity

by Brad Isaac on March 11, 2008

Researchers found that if you increase the size of your monitor or added on another monitor, your productivity would increase by 40%. If you buy an additional 24″ LCD Screen to go with your already existing one, your productivity will go up on average 52% above those who use 18″ LCDs.

Researchers at the University of Utah tested how quickly people performed tasks like editing a document and copying numbers between spreadsheets while using different computer configurations: one with an 18-inch monitor, one with a 24-inch monitor and with two 20-inch monitors. Their finding: People using the 24-inch screen completed the tasks 52% faster than people who used the 18-inch monitor; people who used the two 20-inch monitors were 44% faster than those with the 18-inch ones. There is an upper limit, however: Productivity dropped off again when people used a 26-inch screen. (The order of the tasks and the order of computer configurations were assigned randomly.)


So if I am doing the math correctly, the 40 hour per week worker would add 20 extra hours of work. This is provided he is both productive during 40 hours AND someone who is on the computer for all that time. So the cost of the additional screen – even at over $400 would more than pay for itself in the first month.

If you were considering justifying it for your home based business, you’d simply calculate how many hours you spend really working on your business. Then multiply that by .50. So if you put in 20 hours per week, you’d squeak out an additional 10 hours with the larger screens. Now, how much is that additional 10 hours per week worth?

Let’s say for argument sake, you are making $10.00 per hour in your side business. That would be an additional $100 per week – or $400 per month

100 x 4 = $400

So your extra monitor would pay for itself in 1 month, give or take.

As someone who does use 2 monitors, I can say two monitors do increase my speed and productivity. Especially when copying from one document to another. Also when doing a complex install or configuration, I can read procedures on one screen and configure on the other. It saves screen minimizing and expanding…

What’s your monitor set up? Do you use more than one? More than two? I’d be interested to know how adding monitors has increased or decreased your productivity.

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March 11, 2008 at 4:09 pm


This is just the sort of logic I need to justify my emotional desire for a big LCD monitor.

I love your line of thinking here.

Andrew Seltz
The Go-To Guy!

P.S. When I inherited a 23″ LCD monitor at the office a couple years ago, my productivity with website related tasks went up sharply. My experiences seem to track with what the researchers found.

Brad Isaac March 11, 2008 at 5:28 pm

Ha ha…so I’m a bad influence. ;)

I’ll tell you what. Since I went with a widescreen laptop – or notebook like the kids call them these days, I can’t even look at a square monitor without feeling like I’m “boxed in” and I’m normally not claustrophobic.

March 11, 2008 at 7:08 pm

I’m not sure how I used to get by with one small monitor. At work I have 2 small monitors. I often use one for reference material, windows explorer, etc and in the other one I have my code. For web development, it works great to show the page in a browser on one monitor and code the page on the other monitor. At home I have a 22 inch monitor, so I just put apps side by side.

March 11, 2008 at 10:27 pm

I remember the first few months of my current job. I asked the CEO for a bigger screen. I was mostly dealing with graphics and couldn’t possibly work as well with a regular-sized monitor. He was convinced and gave me one of the largest in the whole office. Now, the only thing I realize that will be better than a large monitor if our computers were all Macs!

March 12, 2008 at 7:23 am

As usual when quoting ‘researchers found’ there is a bigger story behind the summary – particularly when the sponsors are screen manufacturers.

It’s not just screen size, it is work area. It depends what you are doing, how you do it and the tools you are using to do the job. (For example you can probably increase your productivity enormously for a lot of tasks if you get rid of those windows, learn the keyboard shortcuts and write command scripts to automate tasks – hard on Windows, but much easier on Linux and Mac).

Essentially it all boils down to providing people with the right tools for the job.

Xavier T March 12, 2008 at 12:29 pm

I have a 12″ laptop and when I’m home I will hook it up with my 17″ external monitor. Then I will use extended desktop feature by Windows so that I can work on my documents on one screen while using the other for googling or messaging.

March 13, 2008 at 2:30 am

I wonder whether it also considers laptops – with using the trackpad instead the mouse and so on (i guess this is a materia for a whole different research). Also there is the question of OS – I switched to Mac recently and I chose the 13in one just becouse o mac’s default features like showing all windows and Spaces. However such research always raises doubts about my own productivity – did I trade off 40% of my time for a cheaper laptop?

March 21, 2008 at 2:07 pm

Darn, I knew I should have spend the extra money to get a 24″ rather than the 20″ iMac!

Well, at least I can happily say that I use a second 20″ monitor, so I can reach the 44% level ;-)

Good thinking on this post, love the math.

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