Can you guess which ONE piece of technology can make you TWICE as productive?

Not only does it look cool to have a huge monitor on your desk but you can also get a LOT more done. A new study by the University of Utah commissioned by NEC proves that if you have multiple documents open at the same time (and who doesn’t?), you’ll be up to 52% more productive if you also have more screen space.

Here’s what the research shows.

Users with different skill levels were given one of three monitor setups:

1. a single 20-inch monitor
2. two 20-inch monitors
3. a single 24-inch or 26-inch

Then text and spreadsheet tasks were observed and analyzed. It’s no surprise to find that a single small screen is the least productive for any kind of task. For text tasks, dual screens boost productivity by 44% and widescreens by 52%. Spreadsheets tasks came in at 29% and 26%, respectively.

People liked using more screen real estate. While researchers found the “preference measure” isn’t as good at predicting productivity as screen size, it helps to be happy! This is the order of user preference, worst to best: single 20-inch, single 24-inch, dual 20-inch and single 26-inch. Users felt the “break” in screen space with the dual configuration — even though it provides more actual screen space — wasn’t quite as nice as one big screen.

And who improved most by adding more screen space? Novice users. So if you want to get good at something fast, give yourself more room to do it.

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