Daylight Saving is upon us once again – causing great confusion across the nation. Time change trips up even the most experienced world traveler and international business professional. This crash course will give you the basics of getting your bearings as the time changes and never mess up scheduling a meeting again.
This post focuses on time change in the United States.
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Standard versus Daylight Time
First and foremost, it’s important to understand the difference between standard and daylight time – and it’s completely counterintuitive.
Standard time is active for about four months out of the year – starting in early November and ending in early March.
Daylight time is active for the rest of the year – starting in early March and ending in early November.
We’re in Daylight time for most of the year. Feels like that should be Standard time, right? No, it’s Daylight time.
Not Everyone Observes Daylight Saving
There are little pockets of the United States that don’t participate in Daylight Saving so it’s important to use the time zone acronyms appropriately. While interchanging the S and D throughout the year may not seem like a big deal, you could be making disastrous scheduling mistakes by not using them correctly.
For instance, you may be scheduling a meeting in July in Phoenix and some emails say “12:00 pm MST” and others say “12:00 pm MDT.” Well, in July, 12:00 pm MST in Phoenix is actually noon (correct!), and 12:00 pm MDT is actually 1:00 pm in Phoenix.
As of 2020, the following US states and territories do not observe Daylight Saving: Arizona (excluding the Navajo Nation), Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, The Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
When the Time Changes… and When It Doesn’t
We all know the sayings “spring forward” and “fall back”. In March, you “spring forward” and “lose” an hour on the day. In November, you “fall back” and “gain” an hour on the day. All this to follow the changing angle of the sun.
A common misconception is in locations like Arizona (which is always in MST) that don’t change their clocks is that Daylight Saving changes have no effect. However, time changes for everyone else means the states we align with during different times of the year also shifts. For example, during Standard time (November to March), Arizona’s time aligns with the Mountain region – Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, etc. During Daylight time (March to November), Arizona aligns with the Pacific region – California, Nevada, Oregon, etc.
A Few Tips and Fun Facts
- To make using time zones easier, eliminate the S and D when communicating. Just use PT, ET, MT, CT. If you’re in Phoenix, do the leg work for everyone and communicate in the easiest-to-understand time zone.
- Always, always, always use time zones when referencing or coordinating times.
- Despite common usage, there is not an “s” at the end of Daylight Saving.
- Activate multiple time zone views in your digital calendar to easily compare time zones right on your screen. Need more? Timeanddate.com can help with more complicated time zone conversions.