WFH Tips & Tricks | Dual Monitors
In the current COVID-19 world of Work From Home (WFH), Remotely Working offers tips and tricks to make WFH easier. If you have an issue you would like discussed or a favorite trick you’d like to share, let us know and we may feature it in an upcoming column. You can submit an article here.
Last month Gloria Greene provided guidance on filtering your emails in Gmail. This month, Paul Brouillette gives some tips for remote workers who are working on two or more monitors for the first time.
I’m reluctant to admit this, but until the pandemic, I had never worked on dual monitors before! My desk in the office was too small for two monitors, but I often used my laptop side-by-side with my desktop computer and that seemed adequate. I routinely printed out documents, e-mails, and remittance notifications (on recycled paper, of course!) because it gave me the satisfaction of checking something off a list! Even more, I relied heavily on using the numeric keypad on my keyboard, having learned how to key numbers on an adding machine in High School Bookkeeping.
For the first 60 days after I started working from home, I was pumped. I bought a pneumatic laptop stand and working on the laptop seemed bearable. I viewed it as a personal challenge to increase my speed when keying numbers on the top row and to work between multiple documents on a 14-inch laptop without printing any documents. I used highlighting to satisfy my need to check things off lists or to mark items that required attention or were completed. I was on a roll!
Then, like many others around the world, I hit a wall. Working on a 14-inch laptop had taken its toll on my eyes and neck, even with the laptop stand, and my productivity was suffering. My institution informed us that we would not be going back to the office until June 2021 at the earliest. After months of resistance to make my living room look like an office, I finally decided to move some things around to accommodate a desk that had been in the attic for 15 years. I bought two monitors and a hub to connect the monitors to my laptop, and I scoured YouTube for videos to watch on how to set everything up.
After trying a few different configurations, I came up with a setup that works well for me and my productivity has increased significantly, while lowering my stress level enormously! Here are some tips I would suggest for anyone who has never done this before and is contemplating a similar approach:
- Read the user manual for your laptop to determine if there are any limitations to working with dual monitors and if you have the right ports to connect everything; you can find most user manuals on the internet in PDF format
- If you want to be able to unhook your laptop from the monitors easily to use it somewhere else, consider buying a hub or docking station so you only have to disconnect one port
- If you decide to use a hub or docking station, read the specifications carefully to make sure it will work with your laptop and monitor(s)
- Depending on what laptop/operating system you use, search the internet for videos that walk you through the setup of multiple monitors to a laptop
- If you still need to use your laptop for video calls, make sure you do not click on a monitor that is not duplicated from your laptop while you are on a call – your microphone may cut out!
- Similarly, make sure that you configure your monitors so that your mouse will move logically across screens from left to right and right to left
- Pin the Settings Menu to your toolbar so that you can get there easily to reset the screen resolution or other settings if you disconnect your laptop from your monitors and vice versa
p.s. I am working in a Windows environment, so I’m hoping Mac users in the SRAI community will share their tips and tricks too!
Authored by Paul Brouillette, Sr. Grant Administrator
Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard