Last week, a colleague set up dual monitors for my desktop system, and it makes all the difference in the world for the way I write big documents. I can drag and drop content easily; I can keep track of multiple files, and I can monitor my email, twitter account, whatever…without sacrificing screen space. I can’t imagine why I would ever go back to a single monitor system for my writing. The change to dual monitors makes things much easier, and I can get documents done faster with fewer problems.
Qui tam complaints can be huge. Recently, I was working on amending a complaint that totaled more than 200 pages. I was adding content and expanding the number of pages, so the document was becoming unwieldy. I estimated I had about a hundred pages of new material to incorporate, and I was worried the new content would be confusing and overly technical.
I was also working with a colleague who had his own ideas about what to add and what to change in the document. This meant that in addition to making my own changes to the document, I had to figure out how to incorporate my co-writer’s ideas efficiently. I usually write alone and hand the document off to one or more proofreaders. This project was different. We wanted to reconsider every aspect of it – content, organization, wording – everything. And we wanted to evolve the document by working together simultaneously. An asynchronous approach, handing my updated version of the document to my colleague after I was done, wasn’t going to work.
Fortunately, my colleague suspected that my desktop computer needed to be updated and that my existing set up was not the most effective way to go about the job. He walked into my office and immediately criticized my monitor, my mouse, and my keyboard. He demonstrated, to the extent he could, the advantages of dual monitors, and he recommended a track ball and a split keyboard. I had been vaguely annoyed with my computer set up anyway, and I was slightly intimidated by the task we had before us, so I was easily persuaded. Off we went to Best Buy to purchase two new 23” monitors, a Logitech trackball, and a Microsoft split keyboard. The package cost a somewhere between $500 and $600, depending on what new cables we had to add. We went back to my office, and he set everything up.
Writing heaven ensued. I had an open file with a list of paragraphs to include in the document on my right screen with the original document open on the left monitor. I highlighted a couple of sentences on the right and dragged the language to its spot on the document and dropped it in place. Oooohh. I got shivers. This new set up was going to work well.
My colleague insisted on setting the monitors far back on my desk. I am used to working with my monitor very close; my eyesight is not terrific, so I initially had problems seeing the menu line in software and the names of files in directories. Because my colleague felt so strongly about the need for increased distance between me and the monitors, he tinkered with display settings to make it work. I don’t really know what he did or what settings he changed, but the current settings work great. I can read everything on both screens without strain. I am a little worried about replicating the display settings should something go wrong with the computer. I’ve decided to try not to think about it and to enjoy my new system.
The dual monitors are so helpful that I am trying to figure out why I’ve never seen other attorneys use a similar system. I thought back to all the attorneys’ offices I have seen, and even for the attorneys that write almost exclusively for their practice, I have never seen a dual monitor system. After getting used to the system over the last week, I am convinced that it’s the best way to manage the writing demands for my practice. I won’t be returning to the single monitor set up any time soon.