Hi Design Mom. I am wondering how the time difference from France to the U.S. affects you and your husband’s work days. I work from home, too, and dream of living abroad. Any thoughts? — Rebekah
Great question, Rebekah! Before we moved, I hadn’t actually given the time change much thought, but it turns out it has affected our work — and our life! — in a big way. I have several assorted thoughts on the subject, but they feel a little disjointed in my head, so I’m going to put them in a list and see how that goes:
- I love, love, love waking up 6 hours before East Coasters (and 9 hours before Californians!). When I sit down with my laptop and tackle my inbox, I can actually make progress! Because most of the people that email me are fast asleep and my inbox stays quiet while I answer emails. And it just feels like I’m getting a head start! Basically, I get my posts done for the day and scheduled — but they don’t go live until 3:00PM my time (which is 9:00AM in NY). So if we have an outing that day, or guests in town, I know I have until 3:00PM to get things going.
It’s a really nice feeling. Ben Blair and I have discussed that it will be one of the things we miss the very most when we move back.
- Interestingly, I definitely felt the opposite when we moved from New York to Colorado. I would wake up every morning feeling like I was behind, because my peers in New York had already been working for a couple of hours. We were only in Colorado a year and a half, and I’m afraid I never quite got used to it.
- The tricky part is phone calls and online meetings. I end up making calls and holding meetings at 9:00, 10:00 and 11:00 at night! It seems like I would be able to schedule the calls at a more reasonable hour — say 5:00 or 7:30PM, but I really can’t. From 4:00 to 8:00PM at our house, if I’m not giving my time and attention to my family and household, things fall apart fast.
- Another tricky part is dealing with communication delays. My best work hours are at the beginning of the day, but if I have questions or need to get in touch with someone, I won’t be able to while my head is clear and the thoughts are crisp. So I have to make good notes and hope I’ll remember everything I want to discuss when I get in touch later that day.
- Being ahead or behind the news cycle has also been fascinating to me. Last night, I went to bed long before the big game. I knew I would be missing the commercials, the half-time show, and all the accompanying tweets and instagrams. As someone that doesn’t like missing out, it took me awhile to come to terms with having to catch up the next day. (I’m not actually a huge football fan, so missing the Super bowl isn’t too challenging for me, but I was bummed to miss the Golden Globes!)
- I also remember watching the news unfold about the tsunami in Japan, and realizing I couldn’t talk to my friends and family about it because they were all asleep. I remember feeling sort of out-of-body as I watched America wake up and deal with the news and heart break, while I had already had 6 hours to begin processing the tragedy.
- Something else kind of funny: Daylight Savings time changes happen on different days here in France than they do in America. For a couple of weeks each year, it really messes with my head!
- Lastly, dealing with a time change like this definitely gets better with practice. I’m really good at instantly knowing what time it is in every time zone of the U.S. (I have work colleagues in all four!) — but when I first got here, I would have to count on my fingers every time I tried to schedule a phone call. : )
Tell me, Dear Readers, have you ever worked with a big time change? Did you enjoy it? And I’d love to know: Do you like the time zone you live in now?
P.S. — I’m a fan of Timex Weekender watches. Lots of happy straps to choose from and they’re usually less than $30!