Pet Peeve: EST != EDT

I work with people all over the country and the world. What that means is that we often schedule meetings, calls, webex meetings, remote consulting sessions, etc. Lacking some great shared calendar in the cloud that we can use to do this adhoc (I’m sure there’s some web 2.0 startup who does this so please comment if you know of something GOOD) this means that people email and put suggested and adjusted times in emails.

For instance, just yesterday, I received the following email:

The regular 10am EST XYZ meeting tomorrow is cancelled until further notice.

What’s the issue with this email? Well, we don’t have a 10am EST meeting. We have a meeting scheduled at 10am Eastern (ie, when the clock in the eastern time zone hits 10am during the summer months).

EDT and EST have VERY SPECIFIC timezone offsets.

EDT = UTC – 4
EST = UTC – 5

I use generally, and think many others also use “Eastern” to refer ONLY to local time. Ie, what the clock on the wall says in New York regardless of EDT/EST.

Let’s take the above example:

  • 10:00 EST on June 22 (someone sends an email requesting a meeting)
  • 10:00 EST = 13:00 UTC (given the definition of EST, with an offset of -5 hours)
  • 13:00 UTC = 11:00 EDT (ie, makes sense right, 10:00 EST = 11:00 EDT)
  • 11:00 Eastern = 10:00 EST (on June 22 when New York is in EDT the actual meeting time)

Obviously you assume that someone requesting a meeting for 10am EST on day that falls on EDT was ACTUALLY requesting a meeting at 10am EDT. However, why bother doing that?

My suggestion to people that can’t keep it all straight:

Use Eastern/Pacific instead of EDT/PSTs. Eastern/Pacific is clear that it’s local time but you haven’t confused it by requesting an incorrect time.

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