Vincent Ritter

My screen monitor, spaces, gaming pc and workflow debate

I'm just going to say it... I'm not a "second monitor" type of person. My day, and night, job is coding for a living. Yet, I never had the need to ever use a secondary screen - OK, perhaps I did once when I had to build this calculator and there was a massive spreadsheet involved.

I do however use Spaces on macOS like a boss. I always loved that feature. Every section having a purpose to play. At the moment I limit it to 4 spaces. Space 1 is mainly Safari and whatever else I may randomly open that doesn't have a space assigned. Space 2 is just for coding, VSCode, Xcode, Android Stu... urgh, you get the idea. Space 3 is other dev stuff, like the device simulators, terminal and Tower (git client). I also tend to keep Sketch open there for design stuff. Space 3 is the most cluttered. Space 4 is comms, email and messages... sometimes Skype. Lastly, my music app runs full screen at the end - I tend to dip in and out of there throughout the day (sometimes I use Spotify and other days Apple Music).

Heavy left and right swiping is normal between Screen 1 and 2 through a web project. For mobile development it's Screen 2 and 3... and of course screen 1 for Stack Overflow!

So now that's out the way, it dawned on me that this is very productive for me. I can zone in on one section and concentrate on it. Recently I was toying around with the idea of getting a monitor as I want to build a small gaming rig, to drown out the stress... But whilst a bigger screen would be nice... I think it would totally destroy my zen with the laptop screen. I went from a Ruby Red iMac to a laptop so it's pretty much engrained in my DNA.

It doesn't help that I'm a fully fledged "Gemini" - that means I don't like being stuck to one place for too long. Yeah, it's hard to deal with things sometimes... but meh. So, I like to move around. In fact, I'm sitting in my daughters room on her little IKEA armchair... typing this. Woah, she's got so many toys! Comfy chair though, might just steal it!

My laptop has exactly what I need, it has its function and through years of trial and error is the bare minimum to be productive and happy. When I open it up, it has what I need.

Does my short term desire warrant me to make changes to my workflow? Do I pursue the idea of a main big monitor that is hooked up to the laptop (I have a small clean desk, so I would have to buy a bigger one to accommodate)... and also the gaming PC? That would clutter my desk for sure, I would really cringe at the sight of it. When I unplug the laptop to go and sit on this nice comfy chair, would I be able to adjust quickly enough giving my now smaller limitations of screen size?

I don't know the answer. If I had items hanging around, for free, so I could experiment I would give it a try. I'm thinking of setting up something similar to this (given there was a no-cost barrier):

With the above, I can keep the desk at the maintained minimum... I'm not a fan of cables so having a wired keyboard and mouse would slowly suck the life out of me. Although, I could get a dedicated keyboard and mouse for the PC... I wouldn't mind switching around. Having a laptop and a screen on the table at the same time would slowly destroy me... hence the Mac mini.

With the above though, I would loose totally out on the mobility of my trusty laptop. I would be tied to one place. Knowing me, that would slowly eat away at me. I just can't sit in one place for a long time, I need to move and change scenery. Personality trait of mine!

Whilst change is good, I'm worried that my inner self and my personality will just cry out. I'll have a mutiny on my hands!

Did I mention TouchID on the laptop is a life saver?

Oh so many questions and thoughts...

It's funny, I wanted to write about how limitations are good, and how the screen size on a phone should remain small to keep you productive and on point of what you want to achieve... giving it greater, but focused, utility. Like it should be. Well, for my needs anyway.

My daughter wants her chair back now.