Monday, June 13th, 2022

How I keep track of time zones when scheduling on social media

Graphic showing a map of the world with various points on the map highlighted and their time relative to Japan marked with clocks

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 5pm in LA, a bit of late one for New York for 7pm and a barmy midnight in London. Oh, and it’s yesterday.

Spreadsheets to the rescue

I built a spreadsheet in Apple Numbers to give me a quick visual run-down of what’s when and where.

Screenshot from my Apple Number spreadsheet. Note the color coding.

A single table shows me the overlapping time zones for Kobe and key points in the rest of the world. Adding a little color makes it easy to spot the working day (green), relaxing time (yellow) and where the day overlaps across the world.

If I want to hit the LA’s morning commuters, a quick check shows 11pm is a decent time to schedule a tweet. Looking to target the UK on LinkedIn? Sometime between 4pm and 7pm looks reasonable. I should catch most of Europe and Africa then too.

Of course, I have to remember that I’m scheduling for yesterday for some of these places. Sure, I might schedule tweets at 2am on Monday to catch the Hawaii commuters, only it’ll be Sunday there. I doubt many will be on the train to work.

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.

The Southern Hemisphere works a little differently, so I added one hour to their standard time, and deduct an hour for daylight savings.

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.

My name is Ross Hori

I'm a freelance writer, designer and photographer. By day I create articles, features and reports. At night I take photos and write fiction. Find out more.