Before a trip, I usually schedule a lot of appointments on my calendar. Sometimes it’s a business trip packed tight with meetings. Other times it’s a personal trip and my calendar is brimming with dinner parties, coffee get-togethers, and other fun events. Whatever the case, I try to plan out my time to make the most of it, and that means getting stuff on the calendar.
The problem is time zones.
When I’m in the moment and putting stuff on my calendar, I’m not thinking about time zones. I’m thinking about juggling my future time, and that requires a good deal of brainpower on its own.
I use Google Calendar, and I’ve always felt that it isn’t great for dealing with time zones. But I recently found a way to view two time zones at once, which helps tremendously. I also have one super simple tip that helps me plan in advance without screwing up time conversions.
How to View Two Time Zones in Google Calendar
Launch Google Calendar and go to the Settings. You’ll see Language and Country, followed by Time Zones. If you select another time zone here, you can add it permanently to your calendar, or until you decide to remove it.
If the time zone you need doesn’t appear, switch countries in the area above to find the right region. You can see above that I set my calendar to show both U.S. Eastern Time and India Standard Time.
Make sure you hit save! Unlike working in Google Drive and all your changes save automatically, here you have to manually save with a button at the top or bottom of the page. The final result looks something like this:
The first time zone you set will be the one that appears closest to your calendar appointments when you navigate back to the calendar. The alternate one appears to the left of it. Lettering for the primary time zone is black and the secondary one is gray. You can always see the GMT plus or minus calculation at the top of the calendar to be sure.
Creating Appointments for Two Time Zones
When it comes to actually logging a calendar appointment, I’m usually focused on other important details than the time zone. For example, I know that a lot of the calendar entries I make in advance (like before a trip) are subject to change as the date gets closer. When a colleague emails at the last minute, desperate to move a meeting from noon to 10:30 a.m., I need to be able to answer her quickly and confidently without double-booking myself.
If you write the time of the appointment right in the name of the calendar entry itself, Google picks up on it and automatically schedules the appointment for that time. For example, if I write “Dental appointment (10:20 a.m. ET),” the entry will appear in my calendar for 10:20 a.m. Eastern. It works if you use parenthesis, square brackets, or even nothing at all.
But sometimes you don’t want your appointment time to match precisely what you write in the event name space.
Sometimes I schedule myself to arrive to an appointment early, but I want to see the confirmed time in the calendar entry name. For example, I might schedule myself to arrive at the airport at 7:30 p.m., but my flight is technically at 9:40 p.m.
If I schedule the event first and then edit it by clicking Edit Event, I can add details that won’t automatically reschedule it. In this instance, I would first create a calendar entry for 7:30, and then click Edit Event to type “(flight at 9:40 p.m. ET)” into the event name.
It’s a very handy trick once you figure out how not to get tripped up by Google’s automation.
Changing Time Zones
Things get really confusing when you arrive at your destination and all your devices ask if you’d like to update the calendar to display in the local time. If you’ve set your calendar to show two time zones at once, it’s actually not so bad. You’ll pick up on any calendar items that were logged incorrectly pretty quickly.
For more Google Calendar tips, be sure to read up on how to put your to-do list into Google Calendar and how to use Google Calendar to achieve your goals.