From my point of view, doing international business is one of the most enjoyable things you can do in a business career. And if you are going to spend around 90,000 hours of your life working, why not have fun.
I said this to someone during the week as I am planning a trip in November to London and Abu Dhabi. Which reminded me that planning the trip isn’t anywhere near as much fun. When I went to put the flights in my diary I realised they started in one time zone and finished in another. Bugger – I hadn’t been using my current setup last time I flew internationally for business. Traditionally I have had an excel spreadsheet showing meeting is each different time zone, and most of my travel was to Asia so it wasn’t a big deal.
But now I keep all my data in the cloud using Google Calendar synced to each of my devices, so I wanted a new solution that would be seamless, minimalist, ubiquitous and most of all, elegant. Frankly, I want my calendaring solution to “just work” no matter where I step off the plane.
Luckily for me though Google & Apple had had a think about this in the free products that I use.
1. Under the General Settings for my Google Calendar, you can choose an additional time zone to display on the Calendar. This means I have an instant visual comparison of Melbourne and say Abu Dhabi. When I am talking to someone teeing up meetings, I can see their local time.
2. When creating a new event entry in you Google Calendar, you can set a separate time zone for the beginning of an event and the end of event. This means that correct elapsed time will show for a flight, and I don’t have to deal with timezone weirdness in my calendar. Especially if I arrive yesterday.
3. Under the Google Calendar settings, you can then swap the displayed time zones for your calendar. Which means my meeting which is currently displayed as happening at 1:30am Melbourne time, jumps up to 2:30pm in the afternoon London time.
4. My Google Calendar syncs with my iPhone and every other device I have. Fortunately Apple’s iPhone supports multiple time zone attributes for events and therefore everything sycs and works the way it should. Under “Settings | Mail, Contact & Calendars | Time Zone Support” I can change my phone to make it think its operating in a different time zone. Any meetings I create whilst the phone is set to that time zone, will also be reflected in the correct time zone back in my Google Calendar. This means that when I step off the plane in London & Abu Dhabi, I change my time zone in the phone, and everything looks normal. Lunch is happening at lunch time.
Be the way my friend who travels internationally far me frequently than me says the whole time zone issue does her head in, so when planning a trip, she adds plenty of slack because she assumes she will make mistakes. So I thought I’d share my solution with her, and write up my notes in-case anyone else feels that way.