Working between time zones

For those of us who has a career where we are needed in different time zones or for those of you who just want to be updated or in the loop. If you for different reasons need to be active when you should be sleeping; Here is a few tips on how to stay ahead and being effective while traveling or working between time zones. Next time I´ll write about the dreadful jet lag.

Before starting, the real issue with working between time zones are us not being available. We cannot be available all the time and nowadays we are used to be constantly catered to. Instant gratification and instant availability, the "open 24/7 mentality" is constant in our minds and shapes how we work and live our daily lives. What is far more important to remember than time zones is how you want it to shape you and how you want to live with it.

First it's important to asses your situation, what market or industry are you in? Where is your head quarters located (if you have one) and how important is it, really, to be available anytime, everywhere? The risks involved of being constantly available is simply to not have enough time to actually work and get stuff done. You might even walk straight into the well known wall. The risk we don´t talk about is of course your health but you know that. With the right tools, you can be highly efficient while being away or working with a team in another time zone, all this while being calm and "healthy".

 
  AM-PM help for anyone who needs it.

AM-PM help for anyone who needs it.

 

What is your reason for being available. Sure, if there are time pressing issues to be dealt with, then being around is not a bad idea. For things that can be handled with an e-mail; Getting up earlier or going to bed later is a valid option. How important is it to be available for you or the success of the project? That is the first question to ask yourself, how important is it?

Learn AM/PM and if you are a non-European, understand the 24:H clock. Also, get up to speed with the time zones. Study the basics of time zones and the difference between key cities. New York to London, London to Shanghai and so on. This will help you a great deal.

  Click on the picture to get an updated map.

Click on the picture to get an updated map.

Use tools to be more effective in judging if you can call someone or if can expect an answer to your e-mail. One good resource is the image below of a time-zone map that is updated as long as earth is spinning. It´s not perfect but gives you an idea of what the time is on the other side of the globe.

Be pro-active and write your emails or work ahead of time so that your client, manager or potential business partner can have an answer in the morning. This requires you to "slightly" change your sleeping habits. If this works for you, great! If not, don´t worry, there are other ways of being productive like scheduling your work.

Schedule your work and be in constant update on what´s going on on the other time zone. Keep a weekly update or make it easy to be updated on a daily basis and let people know when they can expect answers from you.

I hope these few steps will help you sort out your time zone problems as well being a bit more effective in what you do. If you don't understand or if you think this can be improved in any way, please feel free to get in contact with me through comments or suggestions via e-mail.

For more information about this, please check out both Inc. and Fast Company´s articles about this subject.

Five tips to manage a team across different time zones

How to work when your team is scattered across time zones

Thanks for reading and have a great day over there. Click here if Jet-Lag is more your thing, I wrote a quick piece about it.