Time Zone Management

I spent last week in Utah on Mountain Time and I found myself booking meetings in Europe, NYC, and the Bay Area regularly. I am certain that some of those meetings and resulting calendar entries are going to be wrong, wreaking havoc on me and multiple executive assistants. For some reason the cognitive load of managing multiple time zones in my head is really hard for me. I’ve gotten pretty good at doing the EST and PST thing and can do that in my head without much work. But once I get into three or four time zones at the same time, I can’t keep it all in memory.

I’m curious if there are any tricks, apps, or approaches out there for this sort of thing. I use google calendar on web and iPhone and I’m not moving away from that to solve this issue. So if the solution is to move to a new calendaring app, I don’t think I can go there right now.

But a companion app to google calendar that makes scheduling multiple time zone events would be awesome for me. Does such a thing exist?

And yes, I do have an executive assistant. She is awesome. But sometimes I need to schedule things in real time, or it is personal business which I don’t offload, or it’s something with friends which I also do myself. So while I don’t do a ton of my calendar and scheduling work, I do enough of it, usually on the go on my phone, to make this a problem worth solving. And maybe some of you struggle with this too and are looking for a solution.

So with that, any ideas or suggestions?

#life lessons

Comments (Archived):

  1. LIAD

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    1. JimHirshfield

      Very cool

    2. LE

      Interesting it’s like self driving cars for meetings.Anyway sad to see some of Israel’s best and brightest solving this type of “problem”.https://meekan.com/about-me……

      1. Matty Mariansky

        Meekan is working on building a robot to replace office managers and personal assistants.At the very basic level, The robot knows about your colleague’s time zone, weekend and work hours, so that he won’t suggest a conference call at 3am her time.Besides these details, building the AI to handle scheduling and office tasks turns out to be quite complex, and we’re lucky to have Israel’s finest on our team.[I’m a co-founder and handle product at Meekan][Plug: we’re raising a new funding round these days, contact me if you find Meekan interesting]

  2. Andy Wolber

    I wrote up a few tips re: time zone management for Google Calendar on the web: http://www.techrepublic.com…. You can display two time zones — and show the current time in several places on the side, too. And, on your phone, tweak the time zone, too.

    1. bogorad

      I liked your idea #3. “Create a new calendar for a different time zone” Thanks!

  3. John Belo

    You can define two time zones that show next to the calendar in Google Calendar and you need to go to settings to change the 2nd time zone from e.g. PST to GMT when you need it (while keeping a main time zone unchanged if you want). I find this quite useful to schedule meetings with my SF colleagues.I haven’t booked meetings via my iPhone recently so don’t recall whether the two time zones show up.

  4. Dan

    You can add a second timezone to the web version of Google calendar. It won’t solve all your problems but if you pick two benchmark timezones it can help. Otherwise I just make sure to change the timezone during appointment booking to reflect the timezone of whoever I’m meeting with. A quick visual confirmation after scheduling helps ensure I didn’t screw something up in my head and accidentally overbook.Definitely curious to hear how others manage this.

  5. kidmercury

    i’ve found it useful to use GMT as a reference, so i always evaluate everything relative to GMT. i.e. to me nyc is GMT – 5, chicago GMT – 6, tokyo GMT + 9….and then including the GMT reference in all time statements. “i have a meeting at 11:30 PM in tokyo (GMT + 9).” that let’s me know it’s at 2:30 PM london time 9:30 AM nyc time. still a bit convoluted but i’ve found it helpful especially if everyone gets on board with adopting a convention.

    1. Tom O'Keefe

      Like this.

  6. Tom Labus

    some kind of Fred robot that you send out.

  7. Chad Dickerson

    Others made reference to #1 below but I’ll be more specific and add another. There are two things you can do on the web side:1. In Google Calendar, go to Settings->General. Beside “Your current time zone” click on “Show an additional time zone.” You only get one additional one, unfortunately.2. Go to Labs in the same menu where you find Settings. Enable “World Clock.” You can check a few time zones you want to track. Whenever you click on an existing event or enter a new one, the World Clock on the right of your calendar changes to reflect that slot. It’s a good way to catch mistakes.

    1. fredwilson

      ooooooh. i had no idea. thanks Chad.

    2. Michel Pigassou

      Agreed, Google Calendar handles timezones very well. You can even have an event with a start time in one timezone and the end time in another (let’s say a flight!).

    3. daveschappell

      I recently discovered that Outlook has the same feature. You can add a secondary calendar by going to File/Options/Calendar/Timezones. Saves a lot of time.

  8. Joe Lazarus

    One thing that helps a bit is Google Calendar’s “Quick Add” feature where you type text describing the meeting and it converts the time zone automatically. For example, you could write “Call Joe 11am EST” and Google will do the math to put it in the right slot for your local time zone.

    1. Vasudev Ram

      Yes. they do that kind of thing. I read somewhere that they have features like that for their internal reporting systems as well, such as weekly reports, so that engineers can dispense with ceremony and just send an email with their weekly work details – the parsing takes care of filling in date and time fields, etc. in the back end software that gets the email.

  9. Ana Milicevic

    There’s no good all-encompassing solution but there are a couple of hacks. I use Google’s World Clock on Desktop. Mine looks something like this – whenever you click on a particular timeslot in your calendar all the timezones update to reflect current time so you can see what time it would be in all the other timezones. It’s really important to be vigilant though: for about a month last year they were displaying the wrong time for Tokyo (off by 2hrs).This doesn’t translate readily to mobile so I’ve made a mental hack: I have placeholders in my calendar for timezones that usually require some gymnastics to schedule (like US East Coast – ANZ or Istanbul – US West Coast). I’d love a service that takes into consideration the timezone of all proposed attendees and automatically suggests 3 best options for calendaring, w/ one-click accept & schedule to calendar.

    1. Ana Milicevic

      Btw, Hawaii is there just for wanderlust. I have yet to schedule anything even remotely business-related in HI.

      1. pointsnfigures

        I say let’s chuck it all and everyone move to Hawaii and we will set up our own startup community and change it to Libertarian Island.

        1. Aanarav Sareen

          I agree! Meetings on a beach = good 😉

        2. Ana Milicevic

          I’ll go book the flights right now

        3. Vasudev Ram

          Ha. The Morris West book “The Navigator” tells a story in which a group does something like that, but to a mythical island where Polynesian navigators go to die. This group goes there to live. Lots of stuff happens. Good read.

    2. Vasudev Ram

      >I’d love a service that takes into consideration …Good product idea.

  10. Sam Huleatt

    I’ve had this issue for years and the best solution I have found are AI schedulers. Specifically I use Clara, but there is also Amy (NYC based). These are great because unlike humans they will respond in real-time and integrate with Google Calendar. I’ve really been impressed with Clara, can’t recommend it enough if you’re willing to pay the $100 a month price.

    1. aseoconnor

      I’ve been using Amy for about a year now, and I love it. Super simple and easy to use.

    2. LE

      I wonder if that could be adopted for cold pitches and cold calling. Some variation of paying $x dollars for the right to pitch someone in some form (email, phone, even postal) with a simple acknowledgement that the person on the other end will at least pay attention to your message. The point of the $$ is not to enrich the recipient but to let them know you have seriously qualified them as a lead.

  11. Gili Golander

    I swear by Miranda for a quick multi-time zone check for possible meeting times.Beautiful UX is a plus!http://miranda-app.comAlso – multiple time zones on the Google Calendar.

  12. Sandro

    Google Calendar’s dual time zone option is great if you use the web interface but doesn’t come through to 3rd party clients like Fantastical or BusyCal. It also suffers if you have to do some multi timezone jujitsu. For those I use Timeanddate’s World Clock Meeting Planner – I have a few bookmarked with the group of timezones relevant to a team/project. Here’s one with SF, NYC, London, Paris, Pune and Sydney (yes, that one was fun to make happen and involved rotating and sharing the pain as there was always one group who had to suffer)https://www.timeanddate.com…

  13. the_infonaut

    Worldtimebuddy.com 🙂

    1. Jake Baker

      I used to work for a multi-national bank and this was by far the best visualization I found. Was just going to post it. Not sure it solves issue of integrating with calendars when on mobile but the visualization and interface were quite good.

    2. Kurt Stangl

      Worldtimebuddy.com is the best. They even have a handy little iPhone app.

      1. fredwilson

        oh yesssss. thanks

    3. Vasudev Ram

      Others have already mentioned these. Anyway:worldtimebuddy.comandtimeanddate.comUsed both; handy.The latter has a feature by which you can create a free personalized world clock, at a custom URL with theirs as the base (so you can use that URL from then on), with a few different time zones in it. So if you regularly work with people from say, New York, London and San Francisco, and you are in say Bangalore, you can see what the current time is in all 4 zones at a glance. But I don’t know if it has integration with any calendars like GCal.worldtimebuddy also has a sliding scale so you can see what the time is at other times of the day, in other places – useful for planning the time of a meeting to be convenient to all parties.And though both have the limitation of only 4 or so zones at a time, you can change those zones whenever you want.

    4. fredwilson

      i will check it out. thanks

    5. Ashish Aggarwal

      Yeah, I have been using this one. Even their apps are incredible simple and easy to use and saves me a lot of time and headache to get the right times for many people. I constantly set meetings with teams in India, Brazil, Europe and the US.

    6. JamesHRH

      V cool.

  14. Matt Zagaja

    Fantastical and iCal do this without much issue. Just remember the following truths:1. Generally your calendar is going to set an event in the time zone you are currently in (or your home time zone) by default.2. If you have already entered a time for an event then changing the event’s time zone will change the hour that is displayed but it still happens at the same time.The reason people get tripped up is that they are in PST and someone asks them to meetup at 7 pm for drinks when they return so they set a calendar for 7 pm while on the West Coast and then the computer conveniently translates that to 10 pm when they go to the East Coast. So when you create the event you need to make sure you create it with the time zone of the place you will be in when it occurs. In the war between optimizing for conference calls and optimizing for roaming nomads, the conference calls won.The escape hatch you can use is to turn on time zone support (if you are an Apple user) and then new events will display the time zone pop-up by default. You’ll also get a drop down menu on your Mac to change the currently displayed time zone, and it won’t shift the displayed time zone automatically when you move. You can then lazily just put everything in the east coast time zone knowing that everything you input occurs in local time. The only thing you have to be careful of is making sure correct time zone is set when you send others calendar invitations.

    1. William Mougayar

      Isn’t Fantastical closing down? I think I saw a notification relating to that.

      1. ShanaC

        what? so is sunrise – its functions are merging into Outlook

      2. Matt Zagaja

        They just ended support for the older (1.0) version. The newer versions are still chugging along :).

  15. Sean O'Donoghue

    Time Buudy app Is the best I have come across

  16. William Mougayar

    One thing I’ve learned the hard way is to not manually change the time on my smartphone or PC, because that would mess things up. The devices are good at knowing where they are, and if you change it manually, it will offset the existing calendar entries.Think of it that NYC is +3 and central Europe is 6 hours ahead at +9, except London which is +8. That’s it, no? Good thing you don’t have Asia to also account for. There are World Time Apps that can help too.

  17. Hugo Wernhoff

    http://www.mymeetingtime.com has helped us for scheduling. We often have meeting participants in 3-5 different time zones simultaneously.Found it on LifeHacker.

  18. Tom O'Keefe

    On iPhone you can use Time Zone Override to lock in one Time Zone on your calendar. This is only helpful if you don’t mind scheduling all of your appointments relative to EST or PT, for example, or doing something like what @kidmercury is describing below (using GMT as a reference point). Guessing there is a similar feature on most Android phones/in Google Calendar.

  19. Evan Rudowski

    Hi Fred. I use ScheduleOnce for this. You can have your assistant update your availability in ScheduleOnce. Then if someone wants to meet you and you agree, send them the link to your booking page. They select from your available meeting times. ScheduleOnce does all time zone conversions for you and the requestor. No back-and-forth to find a mutually agreeable time. Works really well. I have no interest in ScheduleOnce — I’ve just found it to be super useful!

  20. pointsnfigures

    have similar problems when I get invites from different time zones. goes into my calendar at the wrong time, and I have to manually adjust. I am on an iPhone with iCal.

  21. Daniel Vogel

    I have my google calendar app on iPhone, but I also have my calendar sync’ed to my iPhone’s native calendar app. I found that scheduling different time zones on the native app is a lot more intuitive/easier than the gmail one (easy to select different time zones + check for conflicts). And since they’re sync’ed, it’ll automatically show up everywhere google.

  22. Nawaz Imam, CFA

    Calendly seems to work very well

  23. Brad Lindenberg

    When you edit an event in iOS or Google calendar you can select the time zone to set it to when you pick the time – attached is a screen shot from iOS.If you know the EST or PST equivalent to the meeting time, just set the time zone to EST or PST and to the time in that time zone and it will be correct in everyone’s calendars. Hope that helps!

  24. Joe

    I have been using weekcal app for quite some time; am using various calendars, it allows integration of Google Calendar as well. Sweet feature is multi-time-zone support; which even allows setting event-specific timezones, ie. schedule a new event, say in Austin / TX timezone and local time there, it will display in the app in your time-zone; ie time zone you are currently in. Good thing is you can still use Google Calendar as your main source, so you do not go through the ordeal of migrating your data. few dollars well invested IMHO

  25. Stephen Bradley

    Related question – can anyone help? If I receive a calendar invite someone created in Outlook, and I pick it up from my Android Gmail app, there appears to be no way to see what time the meeting is scheduled for! That seems crazy (!) but I haven’t found a way to resolve it yet. Anyone??

  26. Henry Poydar

    http://SlashTZ.com – natural language time zone conversion calculator with a “command line” interface (responsive web, Slack, HipChat.)Neat and most applicable feature in this case: “best time for a call between nyc, london and berlin” or “best time to reach Tokyo from Salt Lake City”

  27. OurielOhayon

    i google calendar you have a specific settings where you can pick the time zone of the destination and set the meeting at the right hour. but i always felt google implemented it wrong.

  28. Les Vogel

    With Google Calendar, I just append the timezone I’m scheduling the meeting for. like ’10am PT’

  29. Marissa_NYx

    I use the Miranda iPhone app to keep all the time zones listed . It’s free for 3 time zones . This is my starting point when setting up a meeting – I can see the proposed meeting time in different cities before it is scheduled . That way you don’t have to memorize the time zones – brain can relax 🙂

  30. creative group

    TIME ZONE MANAGEMENT ADDRESSED:MLK Quotes not often known:http://flip.it/ALA8N

  31. dan_malven

    Google calendar let’s you set the time zone of the event itself. When you enter the time of the event you can also enter the time zone. Works on browser (at least Chrome, which is what I use) and Android. On Android there is also a handy feature that lets you first enter the country and then it gives you the different time zones within that country to pick from

  32. Alex Moore

    When you’re in Gmail on the web (and help our your EA), try Boomerang Calendar’s secondary timezone feature when scheduling: http://boomerangcalendar.co… Makes it easy for you and easy for your recipient, right inside Gmail.

    1. Evan Hammer


  33. switchedOn, Inc.

    Hi Fred,I’ve been using Sunrise, which nicely sits on my desktop Mac and devices, and let’s me send multiple times for people to choose.The people can view the link and select the time which works for them. They view it in their time zone.Integrates to most major calendars, so not Google specific.Slick app

  34. daryn

    I worked on a project once where I had to build a travel itinerary planner with time zone calculations. Man, that was rough.And of course the owner was travelling the world in late-march/early-april, including a trip to Israel, where at the time daylight savings was very ad hoc. Ugh.

  35. Justin Fyles

    As a sidebar, programmatically dealing with time zones and daylight savings time is a disaster on most platforms, so it’s not a surprise that a lot of software doesn’t handle it perfectly. There are plenty of libraries to help, but the whole process of storing data in one time zone and displaying it in another has all kinds of implications.For example, in 2015, DST ended on November 1st at 2am. If you went for a 2 hour bike ride at 1am, and then looked at your monthly Apple Health totals at 4am, would you expect the bike ride to count for October or November? If it counts for October, does that mean October 31 had 25 hours? If it counts for November, does it mean that November 1 had 25 hours?Different products handle this in different ways, so there’s no way for the consumer know what to expect.

  36. Supratim Dasgupta

    I used Calendly a lot. You set up your availability on it based on your time zone and anybody in any time zone can setup a meeting with you because he sees the times in his local timezone. Best is most features are free.If you want to know what time is somewhere now..Just google “name of place” time now..e.g. India time now and it directly shows it.

  37. jason wright

    trains have a lot to answer for

  38. Adam Monago

    Hi Fred, I use the Timescroller widget and app for Mac/iOS. It lets me set up all of the cities I care about and you can use a slider to see what time a proposed meeting will be for all participants.

  39. Bruce Krulwich

    First, any Google search bar lets you type “time in Japan” (or wherever) to quickly check time anywhere. You can also use “time in area code 312.”Second, I found the lightest clock widget and have a phone screen with clocks fot all the places I deal with. Since I’m a high tech person based in Israel, I’m constantly working with other time zones. That screen makes it easy for me to check out times.Third, I self-enforce a policy of always creating calendar items in the other person’s time zone, not in my equivalent. I always create the calendar entry without inviting the other person, and see where it came out on my calendar to match what I expected, and only then invite the other person.Thanks for an interesting discussion!

    1. William Mougayar

      what’s the name of that widget? I’d like to try it. There are dozens like that on Google Play.

      1. Bruce Krulwich

        There are many. After an hour of so of checking, I found this one to have the smallest memory footprint and the lightest impact on the system when many are installed. I just add 6-8 instances of this widget to a single screen, it seems very efficient. But as you said there are many. https://play.google.com/sto

  40. PhilipSugar

    I do two things. All my meetings I translate to eastern time zone. My computer never changes time zones. Each night I check my schedule for the following day. My phone always is on local time and that is how I live

  41. Anthony Painter

    synchronize by Solv LLChttps://appsto.re/au/TC7hw.i

  42. Jonathan Nation

    Here are three non-technical things:1. try to be aware of the time zone that the other person is in2. never assume you know what time zone a person is talking about3. always include the time zone when you are talking timeIt’s like area codes for phone numbers – if you are use to dealing with multiple, you get to the point where instead of assuming that you are talking your default local, you just say the 10 digits as opposed to only 7.Then, all the little things about inputting into Google Calendar with time zone becomes easier.

  43. ShanaC

    1) Things like Amy, which tend to have “time zone awareness” built in2) Many, many people report that having a version of their schedule on paper and syncing it with their digital calendar first thing in the morning/at night makes them much more realistic about the use of time/their sensitivity to time on their end (aka, if you moved between time zones, you will be more sensitive to the change in the paper version than a digital version) Something about how paper visualizes time/limits the ability to project a time change/limits the ability to create infinite appointments/lists

  44. tak_lo

    I’m located in Hong Kong and have loads of European/US calls, and primarily operate via iPhone. I use two processes:1) If I roughly know the timezone, I use Sunrise and input proposed city location and time. This “pencils in” a cal booking that stacks to my time zone that i compare and change, if need be2) If I don’t know the timezone, I use Synchronize app (https://itunes.apple.com/en… to figure out. The app has a great interface to figure out timezone changes. I input the city, see what time is proposed, and give feedback whether it works or not

  45. aneela

    +1 for http://www.worldtimebuddy.com/ love the visual comparison of time in diff cities. makes it much easier to suggest a meeting time!

  46. Aashay Mody

    I suggest Sunrise calendar which becomes an extension to your phone keyboard. You can schedule things on the go as you are chatting with a friend etc

  47. Douglas Crets

    Any clock app in your existing android phone will allow you to set clocks for dozens of cities around the world. all i do is take a quick look at the clock of the city where my calendar request comes from and set my time.

  48. Alex Kornilov

    I had the same problem before. I was looking for a solution for some time and then found World Clock by Seense (https://www.seense.com/the_…. It has an awesome slider which shows you time in different place instantly. It is a standalone app and doesn’t mess up with any calendar.

  49. jdelvat

    Here’s a trick we use when people come from multiple timezone into the same conference: we simply start the meeting title with the time in the local timezone.Replace: “Meeting with CFO” with “1 PM: Meeting with CFO”.Even if your cellphone is not configured right, you can still figure out what time the meeting starts.

  50. Joe

    Boomerang for Gmail (and GCal) is a nice plugin that makes time zone switching easy amongst other things. Been using it for years.

  51. Matt

    Try Miranda. Basically a way better timezonebuddy. Between outlook, gcal, and sunrise each tries to handle time zones in a different way, but honestly just having a simple calculator like Miranda is what I’ve found to be most useful.

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  53. kgutteridge

    Personally I use everytimezone.com, which has a handy thing of showing you rough office hours as well

  54. Yvon Chou

    Have you seen https://sundial.teleport.org ? Great tool to manage timezones if you have a global group of people / remote team where you want to stay on top of locations and also office hours.

  55. Florida

    Klok widget (https://itunes.apple.com/us… has earned a place on my iphone – you can configure several clocks and also check what time it is at a given time of day elsewhere in each timezone. Very useful for planning meetings/telcos on the fly, and phone doesnt need to be unlocked.

  56. Colin

    Fred, as an American living in Berlin with parents living in HK I often encounter similar difficulties. One thing I’ve picked up from Germans is to only ever use military time (14:00 etc) in my correspondence. Time zones are complicated enough without adding AM/PM mixups to the mix…