You may not really think about it, but depending on the equinox, you may be using the wrong terms – specifically daylight time versus standard time. When does it start, when does it apply and how do we know? Especially, this year when many of us sprung into daylight savings time almost 3 weeks early! Does it really make a difference if we say daylight or standard time? Well it can and its especially important to pay attention to differences when youre planning meetings that will be attended by people all over the world. That is something that never used to be a consideration – can you imagine 10 years ago planning meetings with employees or colleagues all over the world? I couldnt. The IP revolution introduced the idea of having meetings with off-site personnel, but they were usually at least in the same time zone and usually state. But the technology was not as exciting as its potential and not many of us were impressed. Now, however, we can meet with people all over the planet right from our desktop. It really is amazing.

Daylight saving time started in the United States during World War I, primarily to save fuel by reducing the need to use artificial lighting. It was not observed nationally again until World War II, although some states and communities observed daylight saving time between the wars further adding to the confusion surround daylight savings time. The current system of beginning DST at 2 AM on the first Sunday in April and ending it at 2 AM on the last Sunday in October was not standardized until 1986. Different variations have been tried through the years including a year round observance of daylight savings in 1973. According to the Daylight Savings Time Web site, “today, approximately 70 countries utilize Daylight Saving Time in at least a portion of their country. Japan, India, and China are the only major industrialized countries that do not observe some form of daylight saving”. China has had a single time zone since May 1, 1980, observing summer Daylight Saving Time from 1986 through 1991; they do not observe DST now.

So, that brings us back to scheduling. When do we use standard time versus daylight time? Well, the answer is – it depends. Seriously, this year is a perfect case. Many of us entered daylight savings time three weeks earlier than others. How do we know who is on what time? PDT in Oregon started a few weeks ago. Australia however, does not enter daylight savings times until the last weekend in March. Tropical countries generally do not observe Daylight Saving Time.

As reported on the DST Web Site, “Widespread confusion was created during the 1950s and 1960s when each U.S. locality could start and end Daylight Saving Time as it desired. One year, 23 different pairs of DST start and end dates were used in Iowa alone. For exactly five weeks each year, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia were not on the same time as Washington D.C., Cleveland, or Baltimore-but Chicago was. And, on one Ohio to West Virginia bus route, passengers had to change their watches seven times in 35 miles! The situation led to millions of dollars in costs to several industries, especially those involving transportation and communications. Extra railroad timetables alone cost the todays equivalent of over $12 million per year”.

The easiest way to keep it all straight is to start using standard daylight time as soon as you move your clocks ahead. Change the battery in your smoke alarm, turn all your clocks forward an hour and start using DT. When it comes time to change your clocks back in the fall, do the same thing. Change the battery in your smoke alarm, turn all your clocks backward an hour and start using ST.