Managing Time Zones

I find managing time zones really hard when the differences are large.

Eleven or twelve hours is particularly difficult for me. I have missed a couple of scheduled calls this week because I thought they were happing at entirely different times of day.

I am curious what tips and techniques all of you use to manage this sort of thing? I’m really struggling with it.

#Blogging On The Road

Comments (Archived):

  1. JJ Donovan

    I make sure all of my clocks are set to the time zone I am in and let the calendar application do the reminder. I don’t try to calculate the difference Then again, the furtherest time zone I have visited is San Francisco. Therefore I have no idea if this works in APJK

  2. jason wright

    i would have thought that a 12 hour difference is the easiest to manage on a 24 hour planet.

  3. cbarchak

    I use this site which lets you state multiple cities and a specific date so it’s aware of daylight savings transitions, etc and recommends compatible times at a glance via colo(u)r coding

    1. Chimpwithcans

      This should be integrated into Google Calendar (if it isn’t already)

    2. fredwilson

      That’s what I need

  4. awaldstein

    I am waiting to find the answer in the comments.I as well have no good answer.The body claims its own right to take control.

  5. GW

    I have a second time zone displayed in my Outlook calendar for my most commonly used alternative zone. I always send a calendar invite to give the other person the opportunity to tell me my time was off. For random time zones I don’t speak with frequently, I always check the world clock on my iPhone to confirm that I had the time difference right. If the call is set for an off hour when I wouldn’t normally be in front of a computer, I set a Siri reminder.

    1. Abs Ghosh

      I do the same

  6. Tim

    I’m glad to hear other people struggle with this issue. It’s fascinating how something so simple creates so much complexity to our lives.I do try to be as explicit as possible when working with people in other time zones which does help.

  7. William Mougayar

    The best way to manage it is not to try to manage it. Be there and enjoy your time zone. Most people around you are probably not thinking about time zones.

    1. awaldstein

      Perfect for vacation.Not so perfect when you have interspersed work stuff that you are integral to as most of us have.End up on a tram during a board meeting. Postponing dinner and so on.In the end this is unmanageable.The only time in my career I have ever had an assistant was when I traveled 50+% of my time with a big chunk internationally. A person is in that instance a good solution.

      1. William Mougayar

        I know I know. But I’m learning to appreciate the value of being in the moment without interferences. I will get alerted if it’s important.

        1. awaldstein

          Nicely said.I agree in many ways. I’m on Day 30 of my Headspace adventure of my inner space and it is a game changer.The Headspace app…This is about the moment and my tools to create mental memory to extend it through my life to the people i care about and my general demeanor.

      2. fredwilson

        Exactly. That’s my life right now

    2. PhilipSugar

      Enjoy your timezone. I enjoy mine. Not really hard to manage. But I really do believe in giving whomever or whatever you are doing full attention is key, and that really hasn’t changed in the last 25 years. Yes it has become much easier to get distracted.

  8. KrisBraun

    When scheduling, I make a practice of including a time zone (theirs if I know it) in the times being discussed or confirmed. Then I make sure there’s a calendar invitation, since it will show up in all calendars translated into the local time.

  9. Tom Labus

    Set one hour in the early evening for calls. That’s first thing here. Otherwise you’ll be getting calls all the time. Then you can go out for dinner.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s what I’ve been doing mostly.I tried to make early mornings work but have been messing them up badly

  10. marvinavilez

    I leave my computer on the NYC (home base) time zone…..This way all of my calendar systems are working as expected and most importantly I see the local time in the upper right hand corner.

  11. Hiro Maeda (前田ヒロ)

    I Use https://www.worldtimebuddy….Also I make sure that we both confirm on the google calendar invite.

    1. Josh Jackson

      This is exactly what I do as well.

    2. Jake Baker

      This is far and away the best one that I have seen — was just going to comment endorsing the same. I find that the challenge is getting the event/meeting accurately on the calendar and agreed during the “email/confirm” stage. Once I trust my calendar, it is much easier. +100 for World Time Buddy to help in this.

    3. rfreeborn

      And here I thought I was going to be smart and offer the same answer…but Hiro hit it

  12. Jason Helfstein

    Have calendar on phone update to local time with your events alerting you on local time and leave your tablet (iPad) on Home time so you can keep perspective what is happening at your office.

    1. fredwilson

      Yuppp. Doing that already. It helps. The big issue I’m having is what day, yesterday, today, or tomorrow

      1. Jason Helfstein

        I have an iOS app “world clock” that has a tab that lets you project future time/date and convert to Home time (NYC or WC). So app can figure out if it’s the next day vs. current day, which gets confusing with Middle East and Asia. It’s an old app, so not sure if still supported on major platforms.

  13. Xavier Damman

    I travel a lot. The best that works for me: go out for a run ASAP when you land. Melatonin is good too. And for scheduling I ask people to book calls using calendly (I have a different link per time zone I’m mostly in)

  14. JimHirshfield

    Just stay home.

    1. Tom Labus

      leave phone home!!

    2. Mac

      Jim, I’m having trouble signing in using my Disqus account. I’ve tried numerous times over the past several days. It has worked smoothly for the many years I’ve joined in the AVC discussion. Any suggestions?Thanks. Mac

      1. JimHirshfield

        Try a different browser, maybe? Clear cookies/cache? I don’t really know. (FYI, I haven’t worked at Disqus since early 2015). Best of luck.

        1. Mac

          That’s how it is at my house. I’m usually the last to know. Hope all is going well for you. However, you must still carry some weight. I was signed in just as you responded. Nonetheless, many thanks.

  15. mfeinstein

    I rely on Google Calendar for this. I set every event to be in the actual time it is happening on my calendar and display multiple time zones on my calendar (I think that this feature is only available on the desktop Calendar). If an event is happening at 7 PM local time in a place I am going that is 12 hours ahead, it will show up at 7 AM on my calendar when viewing it from my home time zone.I always set all devices I have to be local time wherever I travel. Google will show me the time when an event should happen. Including the local time of an event in the meeting title is a good idea to make sure you don’t mess up. I tend to review the next day’s events to make sure I have everything scheduled at the right time, particularly on a long trip through multiple time zones.Google lets you enter events using whatever time zone you want. So, if a meeting is at 10 AM in my destinaton time zone, I can use my destination time zone to set the meeting time, even while I am still in my home time zone.

    1. fredwilson

      Hi Mike. I’m doing all of this but still messing stuff up. I think maybe practice makes perfect and twelve hours is, oddly, particularly challenging

  16. David Cooperstein

    I always let google calendar make the adjustment, and make sure my phone switches to local time.

  17. Thees Peereboom

    It is complicated, yes – especially when planning in diferent timezone 2 when you are in different timezone 1. I let Google Agenda do the work and put every meeting or call that is not in my home timezone in their respective timezone and have Agenda switch timezones automagically. Sofar this has worked quite well, though it looks funny in my schedule having meetings at 2 am. One has to be carefull with invites etc.

  18. scottfauver

    For years, I traveled to Tokyo 4-5 X a year (from NY), and then commuted to London (from NY) EVERY WEEK for 2 years.When I arrived in the evening, I’d take a shower and a short nap, then do something (dinner, jog, a walk etc.). Lots of fluids.I found the hardest part was waking up in the middle of the night, eyes wide open, and not being able to get back to sleep. Pills never worked.My solution was to have a book on tape with the headphone in one ear turned on for 15 minutes. This would get my mind off stuff and I would quickly fall asleep. The first couple nights I would still wake up 4-5 X, but the book on tape helped me to get in at least 6-7 hours of sleep — sufficient rest to make it through the day, and transition my internal clock quickly.

    1. PhilipSugar

      Here is the key for me. If you travel a lot you have to just embrace the fact that every so often you are going to get a shit night of sleep. Just embrace it. Don’t keep track of how much you slept. Don’t get up and do work, just convince yourself that just lying down is ok, and you will make it through the next day. Then usually that next night is a great night of sleep.

  19. Nathan Gilliatt

    1. Get used to the GMT +/- notation. It’s a good sanity check. Even if you don’t use it in communication, it’s a fixed reference for your conversion math.2. Always use time zones in written communication and include both (use one of the online calculators to check the difference as well as the name of the target time zone). I like to use the official abbreviations, as opposed to “my time” and “your time.”3. Use the calculators to navigate the hazard of different summer time rules.4. Remember that others also have trouble with time zones, especially the summer time rules (e.g., summer in the UK is BST, not GMT, but many events will say EST and GMT when they mean EDT/BST).

    1. PhilipSugar

      This is what I do.

    2. Fernando Gutierrez

      #4 is always a pain. Just yesterday I was early to a meeting because I didn’t check their conversion and they had used CET instead of CEST… I really think apps should adapt time zones to daylight savings instead, but I guess they are not gonna all change for me 🙂

  20. Ruhinda Ruganda

    It is easy when dealing with one time zone. Juggling multiple time zones becomes complex on many fronts. Using a human assistant to coordinate is archaic but fail safe. Almost like having a backup Quarterback on the sideline.This allows for rescheduling and changing tasks given your level of energy, mood…Sometimes the human touch cant be replicated efficiently giving you sound assurance.Truly a unique problem. Keeping your immune charged is always beneficial.

  21. Leon Grin

    1) On Google Calendar, choose the appropriate time zone when creating the event. Right next to the date and time on the event’s page you will find a “time zone” link. 2) Add alerts to the event.3) Make sure your Android phone is set to automatic. Settings > general management > date and time > automatic date and time. 4) Make sure your Google Calendar mobile app is set to use your device time zone. Go to Settings > General > Use device time zone.That way, when you arrive at a location, and check your calendar on your phone, you will see the events on your local time zone. And receive alerts accordingly.

    1. Paulo Trezentos

      I vote in this one. Simple and efficient. Works for me.

  22. Henry Poydar

    My remote team built and uses, which has a natural language interface. E.g, “Best time for a call between LA, NYC, and Sydney” or “5pm in Berlin for me”. Has a web interface but also works as a bot in in Slack, HipChat, and MS Teams. After picking the right times for a meeting, we just use Google calendar for the invites.

    1. Ana Milicevic

      Neat! I keep saying how I wish I could command-line script my calendar. Can I add that to your team’s roadmap? 🙂

      1. Henry Poydar


    2. fredwilson


  23. Brent Beckley

    TimeBuddy is the best app I’ve found for scheduling meetings across multiple timezones; it can also add them to outlook calendar, which should be configured to change to your local time

  24. Marissa_NYx

    I use the delightful Miranda app to figure out the times but the only way it works for me is to send an email to confirm the meeting and write out the times/timezones in long hand eg. 5.30 pm EST Thursday October 12 / 8.30 am AEST Friday October 13Write it out then pop it in the calendar . The old fashioned way. That way if I’ve got the day wrong – and I have done exactly like you, missed calls on account of getting the days the wrong way around – the other side will (hopefully ) pick it up.

  25. Steve

    Could you schedule in UTC or add UTC to the invite, i.e. ” we are meeting at X EDT / Y UTC?” That would give everyone a common time.

  26. Ushir Shah

    Similar to other posts, this is what I do as I have offices around the world and travel every week:1. In Outlook calendar, I added a second time zone so along the left border, I my home TZ and the one I communicate with the most for meetings.2. When sending a meeting invite, I use the TZ button feature in Outlook to set the actual TZ of the meeting and schedule it based on whatever time was agreed upon, and not defaulting it to my systems TZ.3. I let Win10 and my iphone auto update to my local TZ so my system clock represents where I actually am since I am usually planning meetings in both my home TZ and in the TZ I am visiting.4. I have pinned 5 TZ on my start menu in Win10 as live tiles so when I click Start, I immediatley see the times of the 5 places I need to see instantly. I do the same in my iPhone world clock.5. I also added additional clocks in the Win10 date/time app so when I hover over date/time in the lower right taskbar, it brings up the current time in 3 places.6. When sending a calendar invite, I always manually type the actual time with TZ in the body of the appt, in case something gets shifted with daylight savings or other tech glitches, I can always look at that to see what it’s supposed to be.I’m sure there are other, better tips, but this has been working for me for a while.

  27. Judy B

    I always put the time zones in the meeting subject line Ex: “Status Meeting 9am EST/2pm UK/3pm Germany” that way no matter what happens with anyone’s calendar they can always tell what time the meeting starts in their time zone

    1. Mitchell Henderson

      Yes this is the best most foolproof way. All flights, all conference calls, and all onsite meetings in different time zones contain meeting time in EST in my subject lines.

    2. Fernando Gutierrez

      I used to do that, but not anymore. People tend to look only to their own time zone and don’t check the conversion, so if whoever sends the first email makes a mistake everything goes down. It should be easy, but I find many people making mistakes due to daylight savings and then someone is one hour early to the meeting.

  28. Ana Milicevic

    I have designated days (morning & evenings) for calls w/ 12+ hr timezone difference places. We reschedule when I’m also traveling (i.e. often) but by now I have a mental model of the best times to speak w/ each continent so it’s least inconvenient. I also have World Clock in my calendar which visually helps when scheduling.

    1. fredwilson

      I need that mental model. I deal with companies in five different time zones

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        Same case. What we do is try to schedule things that need people in different time zones in US-morning/Asia-evening/Europe-early-afternoon, which is the only time we all overlap in a relatively comfortable way.And always schedule in one time zone. We use UTC, but you could any as long as it is only one. It is easy to keep track of where you are in relation with only one timezone.

  29. OurielOhayon

    1. change your google calendar to your local time zone 2. add in settings a second column for your original time zone 3. install world clock pro on your mac and phone. 4. ask all your event to have 2 reminders 24h and 12 h before. done

    1. Gili Golander

      I’ll back what Ouriel recommended. Instead of #3 I use Miranda, a beautifully designed and oh so useful phone app for checking the time in multiple locations. Great for planning a multi time-zone meeting.

  30. Ludwig

    I add the timezone in my iPhone Calendar. Works just fine. (Make sure to turn Time Zone Override off)

  31. Pointsandfigures

    yes, me too. fortunately it doesn’t happen a lot for me; I went to 24hour time, and put two clocks up-one with home time and one with time where I am at. honestly, when you are in Asia and have to rejigger to US, it’s fatiguing to look at

  32. Jack Byrne

    Google calendar times can sometimes be confusing, especially when they display as GMT. I put the day-time and zone in the subject where it isn’t converted. This works as long as you make the calendar entry, or make an additional one just for you. (I also like adding a second time column on the left side of the calendar on my tablet or laptop screen Google calendar.)

  33. goldwerger

    I constantly live in multiple time zones. This is what I do using Outlook, but can apply to any modern calendar software:(1) always make schedule entries in their original time zones (e.g. ET, PT, etc) and let the software calculate the result(2) always show 2 timezones on the left size, so I can instantly see what time any meeting is on 2 different days around the world 3 if I could but outlook doesn’t allow). I regularly switch to have a “main” time zone and a “secondary” time zone based on where I am, so I can always quickly see my day in local time zone, and in the most relevant secondary time zone.Otherwise, it’s a bitch…;)

    1. fredwilson

      Yes it is !!!

  34. John Pepper

    I’m almost hesitant to share this. But I think it’s important for all of us. A few days ago you wrote “…this is a long planned vacation with my wife and some good friends so I won’t be working or taking meetings.”. I think I would just stick with your original sentiment. People will understand… and if they don’t… well, that says a lot.

    1. fredwilson

      That was an attempt to stave off the work. It has worked. To a point. But some work is truly urgent

  35. Florida

    I use the Klok widget in my iOS homescreen to keep track of times and see at one glance what a proposed time translates to in each location. Not sure if available for android though.

  36. JaredMermey

    Using MixMax for scheduling allows you to choose the time zone the invite appears in and it will update for your calendar. It’s nice bc you can choose a city.I live in LA but most if my business is on the east coast or central time zone. I just pick the city or time zone that whoever I am speaking with is in and it adjusts on my google calendar.PS – why do we still have time zones? Why not just one time zone and it is light/dark at different times of day in different places.

    1. JaredMermey

      I also keeps my computer and VOIP on Eastern time while my cell phone is local time.

    2. PhilipSugar

      It is called GMT. Greenwich Mean Time.

      1. JaredMermey

        Yes, I understand. Unfortunately not used pervasively

  37. Mac

    You went in the wrong direction. Go East next time. You’re like a diver reaching the surface too quickly.1. Spend a couple of days in Paris (take meetings, sightseeing, shopping, dining, etc.)2. Stop in Beirut next (take meetings, sightseeing, shopping, dining, etc.)3. From there, layover in Dubai (take meetings, sightseeing, shopping, dining, etc.)4. Then, on to your Asian destination.[Note: there is no money back guarantee]

  38. On Freund

    Google calendar is actually really good at this. My two favorite time zone features:1. Showing multiple time zones in your calendar view2. The ability to determine a time zone per meeting (e.g. so you can schedule to 2pm ET even if your current time zone is PT)

  39. BillMcNeely

    i juat had this issue this am. I’m in PHX doing adoption stuff but lining up an interview back in Dallas.

    1. creative group

      BillMcNeely:Best weather in the country for eight months forward.Enjoy the weather. Arrogant Butcher if you are a carnivore and Vegan House if you enjoy vegan fare (Even if you don’t you will not be disappointed)

  40. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:”I am curious what tips and techniques all of you use to manage this sort of thing? I’m really struggling with it.” – FredThis inquiry has been addressed several times via the blog post last year when Fred was asked didn’t he have an assistant helping with his schedule, etc. (No.?)Contributors provided four great apps in Android and iOS

  41. ErikSchwartz

    Two time zone clock on Android…I do wish google calendar handled time zones better.

  42. sigmaalgebra

    > I am curious what tips and techniques all of you use to manage this sort of thing? I’m really struggling with it.Solution: Don’t travel to different time zones. So, N-S, fine; E-W, nope!

  43. Lawrence Brass

    Set 3 slots for: Asia/Oceania, America(s), Europe at your convenience, when you are available for them. Set a gentle notification for each, so you can reach a calm place to sit down and have your e-meetings. Let them do the fine coordination.+ get an Apple Watch into your hybrid Android/Apple experiment 😉

  44. Jan Almuni Bagaria

    I recommend using Iphone clock app adding the main citiy clock’s, I have more than 10 clocks. It has worked really good for job interviews I recently had. When you add the event on the calendar I put the city and the difference in time.

  45. Dirk Van can schedule multi party calls across x times zones for you by simply cc her in your emails and she takes you off the coordination.