Circa 2006 I was a huge proponent of computing with dual display setups. I often used my MacBook Pro with the lid open and an external display attached. A multiple monitors setup is supposed to make you more productive and efficient on your computer, but does it truly do as it claims?

The problem with dual displays is that they are pretty lame to use, your options for positioning are either to position them so that when you look straight ahead you see the seam between the two monitors, not ideal. Secondarily you could position your dual displays so that one monitor is directly in front of you with the second off to the side — this creates the additional problem of your second monitor now being less useful and quite often unused.

At some point in 2008-9 I started just using one display — this only after I measured my use of the second display finding that I rarely used it.

Since that time I have held the opinion that one, large, monitor is the best action to take in the name of productivity.

Now I am even questioning just how large of a monitor you need.

Trent Walton has an interesting post on the matter, you should pop over and read it, but here’s his main point:

I noticed something interesting the day I was confined to just 13” of screen space. Even though I couldn’t see everything I needed to operate and reference at once, I became more focused. Only seeing one window at a time enabled me to mentally hunker down on the task at hand. My actions felt purposeful; my decisions, deliberate. Surprisingly, my productivity didn’t suffer.

I too have noticed that on my Air. For about a month I have been debating and failing to pull the trigger on a monitor for my home. Monetary concerns are certainly a factor, but the bigger factor is that I quite like just having the small screen.

So as I stare at this 24″ Apple LED Cinema Display as I am typing this post, I can’t help but wonder: what if I ditched it for just my MacBook Air screen?

I’m not certain my productivity would suffer at all, in fact, I am writing this post in full screen mode — so no change there.

I can think of just a handful of tasks that would be slightly more cumbersome, but as Walton says:

I did slow down, but also experienced a calm efficiency[…]

Meticulous. That’s one thing that I am never really described as, but something that I greatly admire and respect. If you watch the excellent TV Series “Breaking Bad”, the character Gustavo “Gus” Fring is, perhaps, one of the most meticulous people on Television.

Every time he removes his jacket you watch as he carefully folds it, rests in, and smoothes it (watch this video starting at the 1:30 mark to see what I mean). Everything action that Gus takes is meticulous and I love it.

So, I am going to give it a go. For at least the next week my largest computing screen will be thirteen inches. My goal isn’t that I will instantly be more meticulous, my goal is that I will be instantly less distracted.

Originally posted for members on: September 21, 2011
Follow along on RSS,, or Twitter.
~I would appreciate it if you considered becoming a member.~