Efficiency is the name of the game. The less time you spend on a task, the more time you have to spend with family, friends, toys, vacations, etc.
If you’ve read some of my other articles, you know that as a former engineer, I can’t help but be obsessive compulsive about making processes and tasks as efficient as possible.
As I was sitting at my “command station” (desk in my office) contemplating what this article should be about, I noticed I had an answer sitting right in front of me! My command station itself, particularly, the computer monitors.
Now I know in this day and age, the tablets are taking over the world as they are portable and much more ergonomic relative to a lap-top computer; however, the one major drawback with these is simple: ONE screen!
Eeeeek! When I hear “one screen” all I can think about is numerous windows mixed up with numerous tabs. You open one window, and then when you need to open the window with something else (a spreadsheet for example), you waste time clicking through even more windows trying to figure out where you left that darn spreadsheet. I dealt with this for years until I saw a 2-monitor set-up. This was foreign to me at the time, and I didn’t even know it existed. I was shocked to see that you could drag the cursor to both screens, yet, each screen acted as a separate monitor!
To make a long story short, below is a picture of my current command station.
Needless to say, once I tried the multi-monitor set-up, I’ve never looked back. Now, is the above overkill? Maybe. What I should note though is NOT all five monitors are used for real estate. Besides real estate, I love the stock and financial markets, so I do quite a bit of stock trading. The two monitors on the right are what I use for this.
Everything in real estate starts at your command station (or should!).
Think about it. You take a call about a potential deal. What is the next thing you do? I hope you’re not saying to yourself, “drive out and check the property in person”! The first thing you should be doing is your research to see if the property even justifies you spending money on gas along with your valuable time to go see it. This is all done on your computer! Get tax records, check comps, run deal analyzer spreadsheets, look at location on map, etc. There are a boatload of things that should be done before you ever step foot outside your office door… again, ALL this happens from your computer.
2-Monitor Command Station
Although this isn’t “my” ideal set-up (more on that in next section), it is a great place to start, especially if you’re used to a single monitor. I have two 22” monitors. The size isn’t ‘that’ important, but the more space you have to work with, the less clicking all around you need to do. Imagine this…
You get a call about a potential deal. On one monitor you have your deal analyzer spreadsheet open. With the other monitor, you go to all the appropriate places to fill in the numbers you need on your spreadsheet. You find one number, you drag cursor to other screen and plug in number. There is none of this minimizing and maximizing windows in order to fill in what you need to.
I understand this is just a microcosm of an example and you’re thinking, “how much time did you really save?”, but when you add things like this up over and over and over again, things begin to come to light in a new perspective. Besides the time saved over the long haul, what about just the psychological gains? No more frustration. No more kicking your dog. From a purely “sanity” perspective, it’s a no-brainer to me.
3-Monitor Command Station
For the beginner, this would probably be a bit overkill; however, it makes a great thing to have as a goal. (“Get to the point in my business where it makes sense to have a 3rd monitor.”) In my set-up, I use three 20” widescreen monitors.
This set-up makes my due diligence a breeze. One monitor is dedicated to the MLS (I am a licensed Realtor), one monitor is dedicated to “additional research” (Google, tax records, craigslist, maps, email account, etc.) and the third is dedicated to spreadsheets.
When a call comes in, I can quickly begin pulling comps from the MLS, finding tax information, and plugging information into my spreadsheet all the while NEVER having to get confused/frustrated about “now where did I minimize that window to?!?!?!”
When some emails me, same thing. On one screen I have the email opened with all the details in it, and then I use the other two monitors to begin “double-checking” whatever the person’s email is claiming. Truly a breeze.
First off, do not… and I repeat DO NOT go and buy the top of a line monitor. If you’re business is a professional gamer, then yea, that would make sense. But we’re not gamers, we’re real estate investors. All you need is something that will turn on.
I personally would not go any smaller than an 18”, but that is totally a personal preference thing. One thing you ‘do’ want to make sure of is that they are the same size. Don’t get a 22” to go with your 18”. They don’t need to be the same brands either. A monitor is a monitor. In fact, my 3-monitor set-up has monitors from three different companies.
Don’t pay more than $100 a piece. That’s what I always aim for. A great place to start your search is Dell’s Outlet site. Another great place: eBay. Sure, you’ll be getting something “used” or “refurbished”, but again, we are not professional gamers. We just need data. As long as the thing turns on, we have what we need.
Check your video card. I’m not computer whiz, but I believe most computers come with the ability to host two monitors. If you want to go with the 3-monitor Command Station, you’ll probably need a different video chart. This isn’t a computer forum, so I’ll just leave the issue alone and tell you to Google “multi-monitor video cards” and you’ll get all the information and reviews you need.
I know all this can be done from a single screen device, but it comes down to preference. Before you go and make any purchases, be sure to ask yourself just how much time you stumble around with a single screen, but probably more importantly, ask yourself “how frustrated does it make me?” At the end of the day, looking into a potential upgrade of your real estate command station is worth at least a thought.
Top Photo: izzatFulkrumYour Real Estate Command Station by Clay Huber