If you’re not already doing so, one of the most productive (and cost effective) technology changes that you can make is to add a second monitor to your computer. Adding a second monitor is inexpensive, (generally under $200 for the monitor and an additional video card, if you need one). If you already have an extra one lying around the office, so much the better. And unlike lots of other technology upgrades, adding a second monitor won’t tie up a whole afternoon – or longer – and make you want to pull your hair out.
Having a second monitor will allow you to open one program, such as a word processor, on one screen while viewing another program, such as your legal research program, on the other. With two monitors you can easily look back and forth between what you’re drafting and your research or other supporting materials. It more closely simulates working with books and a legal pad, which many of us are much more comfortable with, and you can cut, copy, and paste from one program to the other without having to close and re-open the various windows you’re working in. You’ll be amazed at how much time and aggravation this will save you.
Some people recommend that your monitors be the same brand, size, and shape, and that they be set to the same resolution and placed edge to edge. This seems to be easier on the eyes. Don’t despair, though, if you can’t get a second monitor just like the one you already have, or if your primary computer is a laptop. I use a second monitor with my wide-screen HP laptop, and I’ve found that it’s nice to have a second monitor with portrait orientation to go along with the built-in landscape one. That way, no matter what type of document or program I’m working with, one of the monitors will be right for it.
Even with my laptop, I found adding a second monitor to be “plug and play” easy, since the Windows operating system has had built in support for multiple monitors since XP was introduced. All you have to do is plug in the second monitor and then, in Windows XP, just click Start | Control Panel | Display and select the Settings tab in the Display Properties dialog box. You’ll see a Display field with a drop down box. Select Multiple Monitors and then check the box beside Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor. Click OK and you’re done.
You’ll be amazed at how much time multiple monitors will help you save. You might even be able to go home early.