Time zone maths

What time is it in…?

Keeping in touch with your friends and family in various parts of the world is easy enough in these days of the social media and the internet. Email, social media and so many other methods enable you to update each other at any time of the day or night.

It’s only when you make telephone and Skype calls that you have to invoke ‘time zone maths’. It’s so easy to get the time difference wrong, especially when Daylight Savings Time kicks in for some countries.

Time differences around the world

Once, when I was in Tokyo, I was woken at 2am by a telephone call from the UK. The caller knew I was in Japan but had only guessed the time difference and had got it very wrong!

The way I dealt with time differences when calling the UK from Japan was to have my computer set to UK time so all I’d need to do was quickly glance at the bottom right of the screen to confirm it was a good time to call. We got into a routine. When it was 9am in Tokyo it was 6pm in the UK which worked well for all of us. In the summer time the time difference was eight hours rather than nine, so 9am would be 5pm. It soon became second nature to calculate the time.

Then I moved to Germany. With only an hour’s difference between here and the UK it took me quite a while to get used to it! My computer is now set to local time as I got a bit confused and made a few phone calls at inappropriate times. But again, I’ve got used to it and phone conversations are now held at sensible hours.

Time zone converter

If you have friends and family on different continents or even different parts of the bigger continents, you may find it easier to use a time zone converter.

One I’ve been playing with is ‘Time and Date’ which has all sorts of useful tools. Another is this which is far simpler, includes an alarm and a stopwatch but doesn’t seem to include an option to find out what the time is in countries other than where you currently are.

You can set up your own personal world clock by storing those locations you regularly call and then you can see at a glance what the time is there. There are also time zone converter apps to download for your phone or iPad. All very useful!

Getting your time zone maths correct means making international telephone calls is much easier for everyone.

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