There is a simple solution to improve efficiency and I’m surprised how many haven’t tried it: using two monitors. This isn’t a new concept. The AICPA says it can boost efficiency by 50 percent, according to this article from

When I need to compare two documents or use information from one window to complete a task in another, I’m far more efficient if I use two monitors. I avoid repetitive toggling back and forth or minimizing and maximizing windows or printing. In addition to the green benefits of working with less paper, consider the time savings of fewer keystrokes and printing time, as well as ensuring you’ve picked up the correct number to paste into the new spreadsheet—I’ll bet you’ve often toggled back and forth several times to check.

Using two monitors, it’s easier to handle these kinds of tasks:

  • Prepare reconciliations. I have the general ledger application screen on one monitor, and can cut and paste quickly to a spreadsheet on the second. And I can compare a prior reconciliation to the current month, which is useful for complex reconciliations. (If you’ve ever prepared or reviewed a tax provision, you get what I’m talking about!)
  • Follow multistep directions. I can read a help screen or an email from the IT department to do something in an application open in the second monitor.
  • Keep an eye on email. I keep my email window open on one monitor to quickly scan incoming emails while I’m working in the other monitor.
  • It’s even possible to put worksheets from the same workbook onto different windows.

It took me only half a day to get comfortable using a second monitor and finding the physical arrangement that worked best. You can stack the monitors one above the other or put them side by side (my preference).

I have a second monitor that travels with me as needed to supplement my laptop. Now I no longer have to squint at small text trying to have more than one window open on my laptop screen. In fact, the larger monitors available today make it comfortable to view four windows at a time.

As more work is done in soft copy, using more complex applications, don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting a third monitor!