Two Ways to Adapt to Different Time Zones on Your Calendar

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I do a lot of travel, outside of my time zone and into overseas time zones. It never ceases to amaze me how many people don’t understand time zones and time zone management, especially on their calendars.

There are two simple ways to manage time across different time zones.

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The key is to make sure no matter what location you’re in, you are consistent and that your appointments show up at the right time on your calendar.

It seems obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people only think in terms of their own time zone. When you land in California and you’re from Washington, D.C., you want your calendar to be accurate.

The same is true when you travel overseas. It doesn’t matter where you are.

Here are the two approaches to managing time on your calendar.

Method 1: Living in your own time zone

If you want to be in your own little world, you can convert every time zone into your own local time zone, that’s okay. Just make sure that you’re consistent with it.

For example, I live in Washington, D.C. If I’m traveling to California, I’ll be going into Pacific Time, which is three hours behind my Eastern Time zone. If I want to live in my Eastern Time world, I can do the conversion in my head before I put it on my calendar.

That would mean that, if I set an appointment for 10 a.m. in California, I can do the math in my head and put it on as 1 p.m. Eastern Time on my calendar.

With this method, I don’t have to worry about time zones at all, because I did the translation in my head. When I land, my phone updates to the new time zone and things are already set, so the appointment will show up correctly as 10 a.m. Pacific Time.

The great part about this method is that when you’re at home you never even need to worry about specifically setting a timezone on your calendar.  Your calendar will default to the timezone you’re currently in (or, more accurately, your calendar is currently set to, which is typically the one you’re in).

The complexity of this method is that you have to remember to do the conversion in your head.  If you happen to be traveling in Europe when you set the appointment, it may not be that easy to do that conversion and make sure you do it right.

Method 2: Living the way the world works

Using this method, you’ll put everything in the appropriate time using the appropriate time zone.

So I would schedule the appointment in California at 10 a.m. on my calendar as 10 a.m. Pacific Time. The calendar itself will do the conversion for me, and it will show up correctly, no matter where I am.

This is probably the most foolproof way to manage your calendar, but, it does require the extra step of actually specifying the timezone when you’re creating the event.

One Comment Add yours

  1. John Estrada says:

    The other big challenge with time zones is that in today’s business world, even if you aren’t traveling, you are likely dealing with people in other time zones. I wonder how much time has been lost by people not showing up for a meeting because they thought it was 1pm “my time”.

    I find it interesting to see how various companies deal with it. My experience is that people who are remote offices in different time zones than the main office tend to handle it pretty well. It is usually the people in the main office, especially those that don’t travel, that don’t think about it and simply expect others to deal with it.

    The best plan of action is to always qualify the timezone whenever you set a time. Of course then it helps if you know the difference between standard time and Daylight Saving Time but that’s a whole other discussion.

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