Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Writers' Lab: A Quick Hack to Writing with Less Disturbances

Do you recognize yourself in the following description?

You are trying very hard to write a paragraph, and just got into the flow of writing. But then you need to add a table or figure, and you need to start switching between programs. By switching and multitasking, you feel like you lost your momentum again, and you end up slacking around for another 20 minutes, before hitting the keyboard again.

This problem often arises when two programs are both equally important for your work, a situation that can occur when you start writing about results that you have stored in spreadsheets.

You will need to go back and forth between your spreadsheet and your writing, continuously. And this continuous switching might slow you down. In fact, this continuous switching might make you lose your train of thought. You can get tempted to click that internet icon on your task bar and start reading the news or hanging out on social media platforms.

I made huge progress when I applied this super-simple easy trick:

Use two screens

No, seriously, adding a second monitor to my desktop has been one of the best productivity hacks I applied over the course of the past year.

Suddenly, I could place a spreadsheet next to my text document and start discussing my results while looking at the additional screen, showing me the spreadsheet.

For large calculations, I can now easily have two spreadsheets open next to eachother and see if I haven't copy-pasted the wrong column from one sheet into the other (something that has happened to me too often).

When I'm planning out my next week, I have my planning document in the left screen, my Google Calendar in the right screen and my planning on my table.

For me, having two documents available on two screens has been such a lifesaver. Before adding the second screen, I didn't even realize how much friction occurred in my work simply from changing between programs.

Do you use an additional monitor? Do you recognize the benefits I described?

1 comment:

  1. I did just that! I extended my notebook's view with a widescreen 20" monitor. It saved my life during the analysis and writing stage. I opened my spreadsheet full of data on the monitor while writing on the word document on my notebook's screen. It really saved me a lot of time and I probably made less mistake too.

    I totally agree with you and I'd recommend all to do the same too.