Illustration by Phil Scroggs

Ticked Off by Time Typos

Since March, we have been enjoying Daylight Saving Time in most of the US. I love the extra hour of sunlight in the summer evenings. But, I’ve discovered that a large number of people think we’re still in Standard Time. (We are now in Daylight Time until November.) No, they’re not oversleeping because they forgot to spring forward. But, they’re referring to their time zone incorrectly in all their business correspondence. If you’ve been telling your customers your business hours in “EST” or “PST,” then you’ve been an hour off all summer. First, I’ll explain why it’s confusing. And then I’ve got a universal tip that will help clarify things for your clients.

Every day, I see web sites and printed flyers/brochures/postcards that use the “Standard Time” designation as a generic term year-round. I think people are just so accustomed to seeing and hearing that phrase that they assume it works in all situations. But, since we’re currently in Daylight Time (in 49 states), anything showing “PST” should actually say “PDT” instead.

But, why bother to change the wording twice a year to fit the biannual time shift? How do you fix the problem and make it clearer for your audience? If you’re using a smart system like EventBrite or WebEx to create an event, then the site will choose Standard or Daylight automagically, based on the date of your event. But if you’re typing up details manually or spelling out your year-round customer service hours, you can make it clearer for your customers by just omitting the middle letter. Instead of writing that your business or call center opens at “8 a.m. PST”, just say “ 8 a.m. PT.” [You see this format a lot in commercials for TV shows.] Instead of noting that your live webinar starts at “9 a.m. (EST)”, just write “9 a.m. Eastern”. That way, you can avoid the confusion of the one-hour difference. And you’ll never need to update it for a time change.

There you go. I’d like to think I’ve just given you back at least an hour’s worth of productivity. So with the extra time on your hands,… go change your smoke detector batteries!

I am an animator / #Illustrator / graphic #designer from Seattle, WA. I write about design and productivity.

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