How I keep track of time zones for scheduling

Ross Hall

December 16, 2021
(Updated on December 9, 2021)

Screenshot of a Google Sheet showing different timezones as they relate to Japan

Japan is pretty much ahead of everyone in the time-zone stakes. Apart from bits of Australia and the whole of New Zealand, the developed world follows me through the day. That makes scheduling work, meetings and social media challenging.

A couple of clients took full advantage of this quirk. They can send me stuff at the end of their working day, knowing they’ll get the next iteration back by their morning. Review sessions are a little awkward to arrange, but we get there.

There are plenty of tools in Google Calendar, Outlook and JIRA to help manage time zones. Which is great, just sometimes I want to look at something that shows me 8am here is a reasonable 2pm in LA, a bit of late one for New York for 6pm and a barmy 11pm in London. Oh, and it’s yesterday.

Google Sheets to the rescue

A single sheet has the overlaps for time zones. If I want to schedule something on Twitter to hit LA commuters, it’s an easy cross-reference. Adding a bit of colour makes it easy to spot the working day (pink) and relaxation time (green). Funny how there’s a lot of the former and not much of the latter.

Final prompt: a reminder that I’m scheduling yesterday for some of these places. Sure, I might schedule tweets at 2am on Monday to catch the LA commuters, only it’ll be Sunday there.

Daylight savings

All this changes twice a year thanks to some countries adding and deducting an hour. Japan doesn’t go in for such silliness, so the time differences shift over the year. I’ve added a crude “add an hour” to shuffle the daylight savings time for those who follow them. There’s no science to it, so for a couple of weeks a year it might be a little out of kilter.

A replacement for proper scheduling tools?

Short answer: no. Google Calendar and Outlook do a far better job of scheduling than I can.

As a ready reckoner, it does the job.

I'm Ross, a digital editorial designer and content creator from the UK now living in Japan. I help growing companies plan, source, produce and promote a range of content. Find out more

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