Awareness of Time Zone

We don’t need to take care of time zone issue when we don’t travel, and have no contact to the world outside our own.

But the world changes. We fly around the world, and we have conference calls instantly connect the both side of the ocean – effectively confusing us about the time zones. In this article, I want to share some of the useful tips about remembering time zones.

3 Hour Rules in Summer

United States uses day time saving. I am happy that China do not use it the confusing system – otherwise since they started on different date, it will be even more complicated. Think about Arizona! They are in Mountain Time Zone, but does not observes the Day Time Saving, so the time difference between California and Arizona changes from 1 hour in winter to 0 hour in summer.

In summer, it is easy to remember that watches of guys in US is 3 hours behind of China. PDT (Pacific Day Time) is actually 15 hours behind of China (UTC-7 vs. UTC+8), to make the calculation simpler, I just remove 3 hours from China time, and switch morning and night. For example, currently it is 7:10a in Shanghai, and it will be translated to 3:10p in California, today.

Special Moments

Other ways I remember the time difference is by remembering some key moments. For example, I always remember that at the time California people started to leave office, the people in Shanghai start to work. It is in well sync, without 1 minute of delay.

That is the moment of 6 pm (going home!) of PDT, and 9 am in Shanghai (start of a day’s work!)

Based on that moment, sometimes scheduling meetings is easier.

The other special moment is mid-night of China is the starting point for people in California to work – 0:00 AM in Shanghai maps to 9:00 AM in PDT.

Awareness of Time Zone

The most sensitive time to get aware of time zone is the time when I just travelled. For example, although it is just early in the morning, I have a sense that it is beautiful afternoon of California, with the Sun set few hours later. People are busy calling each other, work on Excels, at the exact moment. That becomes very real feeling, not just by theory. Basically people have the ability to live in another time zone if you keep calling people there, and keep constant connection by Skype or video conference. That is exciting experience for me.

Europe? I have never been to Europe and really have a hard time to establish that type of feeling of presence. By theory, Berlin, which I called most often, is 6 hours behind us at the current moment. So I always remember the best time to call Berlin is 6 hours after I started to work, which is 3:00 PM.

6 thoughts on “Awareness of Time Zone

  1. ray

    Don’t forget London is currently GMT +1 ( one hour behind the rest of western Europe).

    Funny you talk about Berlin , I’m actually going there next week.

    Life would be much simpler without Day Saving Time.

  2. gn

    timezone allows people to have a natural living. On the surface it is about making life easy, but it really is a control issue. I traveled to XinJiang years ago and found it was very strange that the sun set at 10pm… and people still have to show up at work at 8am. It is insensitive and not natural.

  3. Liu Dongyang

    The first time I came to this issue in daily life is also concerning Xinjiang.I have a friend in Xinjiang,and I once give him a call at supper time.Asking if he was at the dining hall,he told me that he was having class,and there was still two hours left for lunch time…

  4. cookie

    i got 3 clocks by clicking the clock on my tray, so it’s okay. i think you already get used to that by working at microsoft for over 5 years.

  5. stephen

    Sunrise in Shanghai during summer is around 5AM and sunset @7PM, I do wish the city can institute day light saving time by pushing forward one hour which can save electricity and prolong other acitivies.

    BTW, a vast country like China uses only one time zone unable most people to enjoy natural living fully as mentioned by gn.

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