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How I Save My Work From Errors and My Eyes From Strain
June 14, 2024

How I Save My Work From Errors and My Eyes From Strain

Reading Time: 3 minutes

For your health’s sake, please use an external monitor., Large external monitors are the best work-from-home hack.

This is One Thing, a column with tips on how to live.

I recently offered to give my youngest niece a spare monitor I had lying around. She turned it down, saying she wouldn’t really use it. In fact, she once typed an entire college paper on her smartphone!

If you have an on-site desk job, it’s likely that your company provides a large monitor. There’s a reason your employer expects you to work on a device other than your laptop or phone when you’re in the office. Most companies understand the importance of ergonomics, and that’s why their individual workspaces typically include a desk, an ergonomic chair, and a large external monitor.

In my main home workstation, I have a 40-inch ultrawide INNOCN monitor, which I love. At any given moment, my desktop contains about 200 folders and documents neatly arranged according to my peculiar system. As a freelance journalist, I’m always juggling a variety of projects, and having the ability to click numerous links and keep them open and visible, especially when I’m conducting research, is invaluable. On a different workstation, I have an ASUS ProArt 32-inch monitor, and my ‘small’ monitor is a BenQ 28-inch model.

My love of large monitors may be due partially to my past gig as a video editor. I would occasionally bring a project home to edit it on my MacBook, but proofing the final edit was always done in an editing bay on a large monitor that allowed me to clearly see all of the footage, text, and effects. The goal was to avoid the types of gaffes spotted in Game of Thrones, like a coffee cup seemingly from Starbucks or a water bottle featured in the background.

Not to mention that when you’re hunched over, staring at a phone or laptop, you’re exercising terrible posture, subjecting yourself to neck, shoulder, and back pain. And an external monitor usually necessitates the use of a keyboard and mouse, both of which can help you avoid sore wrists and other hand and arm problems that accompany working on small digital devices.

And this isn’t just my personal opinion. Plenty of research has shown an association between the use of smartphones and an increase in neck and back pain. Another study has found that smartphones, iPads, and smartwatches used in nonneutral postures can cause increased muscle activity and fatigue of your thumbs, wrists, elbows, arms, and shoulders.

Tiny smartphone screens can also cause squinting and eye strain. Tablets and laptops are a little better but still not ideal. You’ll be fine if you’re on small devices for a couple of minutes, but if you’re actually working or watching TV, this level of strain can lead to fatigue and headaches. Squinting can create fine lines and creases around your eyes, and looking down for extended periods of time can cause neck wrinkles, prematurely aging you.

Ideally, an external monitor should be 20 to 40 inches away from you, and the top of the monitor as close as possible to eye level. Many external monitors are adjustable, so you can fine-tune the height and also tilt or swivel it as necessary to achieve the best viewing angle.

According to Allen Conrad, the owner of Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in North Wales, Pennsylvania, you should choose a monitor that provides visual and structural ergonomic features. He explains the structural ergonomics behind how the monitor can be customized to ensure that it’s at the right viewing level: ‘A tilt function helps to prevent neck and shoulder strain, and being able to adjust the height centers it to your viewing area.’

Regardless of whether you care more about your health or your looks, a large external monitor can help to preserve both.


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