Do You Have A Favorite Timezone?

Probably the biggest challenge I’ve faced since moving from the east coast to the west coast (well, other than trying to curb my lust for all things bubble tea) is the timezone. I’m not much of a morning person to begin with, so when I lived in Tampa I’d usually get up at 9-10AM, which I didn’t feel too guilty about it, since it was 6-7AM on the west coast. Mentally that was justifiable to me. Kind of how alcoholics/frequent flyers justify drinking before noon — after all, it’s 5PM somewhere. šŸ˜‰

Now living on the west coast — surprise, surprise — I’m not really getting up any earlier. And for that matter, Seattle winters certainly don’t help in keeping me up and productive, since it’s dark about 16 hours a day. Of course the issue when you get up at 9-10AM on the west coast is that it’s 12-1PM on the east coast. And as much as I’d like to say “so what?” the reality is that stuff happens on east coast business hours, at least in the miles & points world. Whether it’s airline news or emails, it sucks to wake up as people on the east coast are on their lunch breaks, and then spending all day trying to “catch up.”

The nice side effect of living on the west coast is that usually evenings die down a bit earlier. That’s not necessarily exciting for me since I’m a night owl, as I end up just watching reruns of Shahs of Sunset on my iPad till I fall asleep (and that’s assuming it’s not a blood-pressure raising episode where GG turns into a crazy… oh wait, that’s every episode).

So as much as I try to set an alarm and tell myself I’ll get up at 6AM, it just ain’t happening. I mean, it does happen in the sense that I set an alarm for that time every day, but it doesn’t happen in the sense that somehow I never seem to hear it.

I’ve come to realize lately that I also have timezone preferences for where I travel to. Y’all know I love Asia, but the timezone kills me. Being on exactly the opposite time of the US east coast means having a really screwed up schedule. I try to do touristy stuff during the day, get some work done at night and then again in the morning, but I just end up not being able to sleep and staying up all night, to the point that by the end of a week-long trip to Asia I’m on US east coast hours (which perhaps in Bangkok isn’t necessarily a bad thing…).

Conversely, in terms of timezones, I love being in Europe. Since my family is from Germany and I spent the first ~15 years of my life exploring it extensively I’ve been devoting much more travel to Asia. But lately I’ve been doing some more Europe travel, and I’ve realized that I love being in that general timezone.

I can get up at a reasonable hour, get a bit of work done, spend several hours outside sightseeing, get back mid-afternoon, get some more work done, go out in the afternoon and have dinner, and then get some more work done before bed. It’s awesome, because I always feel like I’m ahead of the game. Heck, when I open my laptop in Europe mid-morning I can hear Gary Leff‘s alarm clock going off (I’m pretty sure usually I go to bed the same time he wakes up).

So as weird as it sounds, I find I’m much more relaxed when traveling to Europe, since I don’t always feel like I’m “missing” everything going on in the world and behind, but rather feel like I’m ahead of the curve.

Similarly, even though Hawaii is just a five hour flight from Seattle, I haven’t gone there once since I’ve moved here. Being yet another three hours behind the west coast is terrifying to me.

Am I nuts? Anyone else have similar feelings or a favorite timezone?

Filed Under: Travel
  1. I live in HKG now, with UTC+8, and it works very well for me (for work and otherwise), since I’ve always gotten up very early and gone to bed quite early as well.

    I think as you age you’ll sleep earlier and wake up earlier as well. šŸ˜› Just a few more years….

  2. I actually think I’m most ahead of the game on my schedule, because whenever I do wake up at 4 or 5am, it’s daytime in the States, and I can deal with my work relating to the States (since it’s still business hours), and by the time I’m done I can deal with stuff involving Asia. I’m done by lunchtime or so for the day, and I have (more or less) the entire day to myself, tending to Europe if necessary.

    But somehow I am suspecting that one can modify a schedule to fit a timezone, and vice versa, without missing too much one way or another.

    That much said, I really disliked being on the West Coast, because I feel like I am completely behind NYC, LON, and HKG as far as business is concerned. I have to break work down into several chunks (morning and evening), which doesn’t leave me a lot of time to do personal things.

  3. Move stuff back to your room at home, Lucky and go live in the FCT.
    German speaking, check.
    Good Service, check
    Sleep rooms, check.
    Airplanes nearby, check.
    Connected to the world, check
    now add
    Time Zone good, check.

  4. Here in the US I prefer the Central time zone. Not too early, not too late, and a relatively short flight to any corner of the country. As for international time zones I prefer Asia. Although it doesn’t keep my job from bugging me entirely it does cut down on the miscellaneous phone calls. If they know you’re that that far off from home office time they’ll call, but being twelve hours off seems to put the breaks on most inquiries, even for them. When I’m flying it’s 99% for leisure and 1% for business. If I have to travel on business I’m in and out as quickly as possible. Two hours if possible, two days at the most.

  5. It’s funny, I’m your opposite, I love traveling in Asia precisely because I can get up in the morning — right at the end of the US East Coast business day — and reply to everyone’s emails before they leave the office.

    Then I have the entire day in Asia while folks in the US are out of work. That releases me from the pressure of staying connected. I can spend my day ‘not working’ without falling behind.

    When I’m in Europe, the bulk of my afternoon and evening overlaps with the business day back home — not relaxing.

  6. I think Hawaii time would work in your favor. I go every year and I ALWAYS wake up at around 5:30 in the morning there

  7. I live my life around UTC. My wristwatch has been set to UTC for as long as I can remember and I simply think in +/- hrs from that. Makes life a lot simpler.

  8. My vote for Asia, too. Europe is more convenient for staying in touch with colleagues in the US however I find staying in touch with wife much more difficult.

    The worst overall for staying in touch with other key regions is India and thereabouts, especially the ones with the half time zones.

  9. PST is tops at one thing – watching playoffs. 5pm game times are perfect for the sportsbar right after work. Plus if your NFL team is playing the early Sunday game you get to start drinking at 10am šŸ˜‰

  10. PST is awkward, seems like they are behind the news, TV programming, even NYE feels off over there, like the rest of the world is already drunk or asleep and they are still waiting for midnight.

    I love EST, favorite, but I also love European ( Central ) time zone.

  11. Personally I prefer one timezone for everyone so I’d never get confused with the recalculating time when travelling… but if I were to have a favorite, it would be Asia time as well. I agree with Gary that it is nice to take a break from the bulk of business hours in the east coast while I’m in Asia. šŸ˜‰

  12. I guess you already made up your mind about moving to Germany; now you just have to convince yourself that it is ok, right?

  13. Couldn’t agree with you more Ben. Not only do I love European/African time, I love coming back from them too. Nothing better than waking up at 4 am and being 100% alert, fully rested, and ready to go to work without disruption. That seems like the best compromise with life on the East Coast, although IMO it seem like 2pm-10pm East Coast time are the least productive hours of the day.

    Gary’s point of view makes a lot of sense too — if you’re work is largely reactive towards demands from others. As mine is mostly mixed, or even a bit demanding of others, I’d prefer to be on the front end of their cycle.

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