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The case for rejecting the multiple-monitor setup

(ENTREPRENEUR) Multiple monitors may seem like a great way to be able to see all of your work and to-do tasks, but not everyone agrees.

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We’ve all seen some variation of the multiple monitor setup. In fact, you might have your own two or even three headed monster of a desktop setup back home. With today’s collaborative business environment and an app for almost every task imaginable, it’s easy to see why the multiple monitor setup has taken off.

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We need more screen, because more is available to us. There’s more communication streams, more apps and more information. However, more screen may not necessarily translate to increased productivity.

The Solo case

Cory House, a Pluralsight author, software architect and speaker among many other titles, agrees. In his “Single Monitor Manifesto,” House makes a case against the multiple monitor setup.

His main argument boils down to one belief, less may sometimes mean more.

First of all, it’s easy to be critical of House and dismiss his claims assuming that he has a simple job, free of the complexities of business. However, I’d argue that being a software architect and author gives House even more reason to benefit from a multiple screen setup. In fact, House had his own multiple monitor setup, but sold it a few years ago.

His reasons for abandoning the setup are simple, increased focus and simplicity.

House writes, “If my email or social media feeds are available at a glance, then I’ll check them constantly. This isn’t just unnecessary, it’s counter-productive. In a world of endless distractions, being able to focus on a single task for an extended period is a seriously valuable skill.” Emails and social media feeds are just some distractions that multiple displays make more likely.

Yes, both may be necessary for work, but more often than not they add nothing to inform our current task.

Instead they prevent us from what famed author, Cal Newport, calls “deep work.”

“Deep work is becoming increasingly hard in our distraction filled economy, yet also becoming increasingly important and rare. The few who can spend their days on deep work will become extremely marketable and successful,” says Newport in his book, Deep Work.

Distracted before you even begin

Multiple monitor setups can also lead to a complex set of configurations. Managing these configurations could end up being a distraction in itself. House describes his own conundrum in running multiple monitors.

“I ran a 34″ LG ultra-widescreen monitor for a month. At first, I loved it. But after a few days, I was surprised to find my opinion soured. It was far too wide to maximize my windows, so I found myself spending too much time fiddling with windows. What should I put on the left today? What’s important enough to be in the middle now?”

The solution, instead of fiddling with multiple windows across multiple screens, why not decide ahead of time what’s most important. Display that information or task front and center, then move on to the next point of focus.

Old school

One screen and one focus is an old school approach to productivity. However, in a time when workers are constantly feeling burned out and wantrepreneurs jet from one idea to another, perhaps going back to this old school approach can bring us to a new level of productivity.

#OneScreen

Staff Writer, Arra Dacquel is a San Francisco based writer. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from UC Davis and is currently studying web development. She’s obsessed with tech news and corgis, but not in that order.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. JC

    May 1, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    As a podcaster, I love my 3 headed monster – especially when I’m writing up my show notes.

    Monitor 1: Logic Pro X Main Window
    Monitor 2: Chrome to do research on topics we discuss in the show
    Monitor 3: Writing Up the show notes before publishing.

    I’m sure podcasting isn’t the only craft that can find that many useful. But yeah, I don’t think you need 6 like there was on the machine Swordfish.

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Business Entrepreneur

Small businesses must go digital to survive (and thrive)

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) A study at Cisco reveals how digitizing small businesses is no longer optional, but critical to success, thanks to the pandemic.

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Black woman working on a laptop on a couch, running her small businesses' needs digitally.

As digital transformation efforts ramp up due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study released by Cisco has highlighted some key insights into how small businesses will need to adapt in order to survive in the “new normal.”

The study, conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC), analyzed more than 2,000 small businesses across eight different markets, including the United States, Canada, Germany, Mexico, United Kingdom, Brazil, Chile, and France. Using a four-section index to assess a small business’s digitalization efforts, the research found that 16% of companies said they were “thriving and feel their businesses are agile and resilient.” While 36% stated they were in “survival mode.” Regardless of where they were ranked in the index, the study concluded that 70% of firms were in the process of ramping up digital transformation within their company due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the digital divide that was already present in the small business market, and it is forcing companies to accelerate their digitalization,” said Daniel-Zoe Jimenez, AVP, head digital transformation & SMB research at IDC. “Small businesses are realizing that digitalization is no longer an option, but a matter of survival.”

The study also highlighted several challenges associated with digital transformation. The three biggest obstacles that businesses seem to face during the process were digital skills and talent, budgetary issues (lack of funds or previous commitment of funds), and cultural resistance to change. Despite these roadblocks, 45% of companies surveyed stated that they expect over 30% of their business to be digital by 2021. And 32% responded that they are planning on developing a digital strategy. This included investing in talent with the right set of digital skills moving forward.

Those decisions fall in line with Cisco and IDC’s recommendations. These include creating a three-year technology road map and building a workforce with the right skills to succeed in a digital world. Other suggestions include finding the right technology partner, and keeping up with industry trends. Leveraging financing and remanufactured equipment can aid with cash flow and budget requirements.

As small businesses continue to adapt to consumer behavior and the whirlwind of ever-changing rules that have come with the coronavirus, digital transformation will continue to play a major role in the post-COVID world. According to the report, if half of the small businesses surveyed can reach the second-highest tier of the index by 2024, those companies could end up adding an additional $2.3 trillion to the eight markets’ gross domestic product (GDP), contributing to the global economic recovery.

As we approach the six-month mark of the pandemic, just when and how the “new normal” will emerge is still uncertain. But there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel for small businesses — even if it’s faint green and contains zeroes and ones.

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Business Entrepreneur

Choose your startup business partner wisely

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Creating a startup business with a friend sounds amazing, but consider carefully if you may be better off as friends.

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Young couple working on startup together.

So, you want to be your own boss? Maybe get out and into a new career to crawl out from under the corporate drone motif? What better way to do it than to go into a startup business for yourself?

Hundreds of Americans have ideas that could turn into a new career. But not as many have the support structure, either financial or social, to make these dreams become a reality. A few of these people might look for someone to go into business with to help with the financial burden.

Can you think of a better way to start off a new business than with your best friend by your side? I sure as hell can.

My best friend and I get along great in our personal time. We’re both zombie horror nerds. He’s straight, I’m gay. He’s a cop, I’m an out of work geophysicist/bartender/writer – the jokes don’t quit with us. Our typical nights together include drinking at bars and smacking the other one upside the head as deemed necessary. We’re both slightly better than Neanderthals some days. And most importantly, neither of us should be trusted to work together.

Now of course that’s probably more specific to my situation, but let’s just realize that finding two people who can be the closest of friends and business partners is pretty rare.

There are a few people who have figured it out though and you can find a number of pointers online for new/established startup companies. A few of these tips include: Lots of structure to try and keep the fun at home and the business in the office, clearly defining roles, honest open communication, and strictly defining fiscal expectations.

So basically, it’s like committing to another marriage, which is what another set of people do for their startup business as well. Numerous married couples have put together careers and their relationships, and a great many of them are very successful.

So, if you have someone who you can commit to another potentially lifelong relationship with, and you trust to follow all of these rules, then go for it.

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Business Entrepreneur

Kanception simplifies your project management with nested tasks

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) There are already many available options for project management tools. Kanception.io offers a new approach with nested Kanban boards.

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Project management tool by Kanception.io shows nested Kanban boards.

Project management tools are a project manager’s best friend. They help organize client requirements and keep track of team tasks, timelines, budgets, and various project restraints. Being able to streamline and delegate work in one place helps PMs be more efficient. At least, they should.

If a PM has to spend more time managing the software rather than managing projects, that clearly isn’t a good sign. The key to productivity is finding the platform that best suits your needs. Any new or seasoned PM will tell you that even the best scoped out projects will receive last-minute requirement changes from stakeholders. So, taking into consideration extra padding to make adjustments for a project’s new feature is important.

So, what is the best project management tool? There are a lot of good management software tools out there, and each one is slightly different. Finding the right one is difficult because there is no one-size-fits-all software. Thanks to Kanception.io, that decision just got a little harder (or easier).

This “team based project management software” has simple boards and cards just like Trello, but with an added kick. And better yet, it’s free!

Getting started with Kanception is simple enough. You sign up for a free account on their website and start creating your board. Using the “Invite Team” option, you can add and share projects with teammates. After you’ve named and created your board, you can create cards (tasks). These cards can be moved from the Backlog to In Progress with a simple drag and drop operation. But creating your Kanban board doesn’t have to stop there!

This Kanban board has a nested card feature. Large tasks can be broken into “bite-sized, nested subtasks.” It’s a Kanban board within a Kanban board within a Kanban board. The levels of nesting are infinite. To access any nested card, all you have to do is single-click on a card. Then, you are easily taken to that card’s inner Kanban board.

The tool also lets you track time and project planning with the Gantt chart. By double-clicking on a card, you can schedule to-dos. With the calendar, projects can be viewed at a glance. This is helpful when you are trying to display tasks in terms of time.

“Here at Kanception, we believe apps should be intuitive and simple to use,” Kanception’s website reads. On the surface, the app does appear very straightforward. Overall, if you work with large projects and need a more organized approach, this could be the project management tool for you. The nested Kanban boards will help break down all your subtasks into clean and tidy bits.

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