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Family or friends in other time zones? Here is some advice on how to make it easier.

Nov 2, 2021

If you have family in other time zones such as Australia or the USA, it can be a challenge to find the best time to get in touch without waking each other with a phone call. Not to mention when your family is divided between more than two time zones! Here are a few tips on making it easier for everyone.

Use technology to make life easier

Luckily technology always comes to the rescue! You can easily do time conversions for any place in the world with the easy, simple website dateful.com. Click here to use the time zone converter. You can bookmark the website, so you always have easy access. For a visual representation of the different time zones, use worldtimebuddy.com.

You can also use these apps to simplify communication:

  • Slack
  • Google Duo

Slack is a user-friendly app which allows you to adjust the hours during which you are both available, and automatically mutes messages that are sent outside of those hours. It eliminates the stress of constantly worrying that you are sending messages at an inconvenient time. Another app that will simplify your life is Google Duo. If you for instance have an iPhone and your parents an Android, you can still FaceTime with them, regardless of which platform you all use.

Plan your communication

The best way to ensure that you communicate frequently and efficiently is by holding a planning meeting. This might sound too formal, but a single conversation during which you discuss these questions could make a significant difference:

  1. How often do we want to get in touch? (Daily, weekly, monthly?)
  2. What days are the most convenient for both?
  3. How long will our conversations last on average? (It is important that your expectations are aligned, since a conversation that lasts for hours could deter one of the parties from engaging in conversation in the future, simply because time is a factor for them.)
  4. Should we establish an agreed weekly time slot for conversations, or should we discuss the next suitable time after every session?
  5. What communication channels does every person prefer? (WhatsApp messages, Zoom, FaceTime, Slack or email?)
  6. How long will it normally take to answer messages? (It is especially important in a marriage to establish how long it will take to answer each other’s messages, otherwise it will be easy for the other party to become worried or think something is wrong when it is simply a time factor.)

Talking over Zoom or other video call platforms is often the best way of seeing your loved ones in the flesh and having a meaningful conversation. To make it easier for both of you, you can use the scheduling function to establish a set time for your appointment, and Zoom will then remind you of the conversation according to your own time zone. That way it will be confirmed on both your calendars, eliminating the possibility of either one missing the appointment due to poor communication before the call.

Be patient with response times

Try not to feel offended if your messages are left unread or unanswered for prolonged periods. In order to foster a relationship with someone on the other side of the world, you need to have patience with the process. The only way you will be able to consistently share stories, send messages and stay up to date with what is going on in one another’s lives, is by doing it during times that are convenient to both of you. Talk about it, discuss the times during which you are more likely to answer your messages and communicate what times of the day you find least suitable. We often have certain expectations about communication when we are in the same time zone, but when we have other realities and different time zones, we need to also adjust our expectations.

Be creative

If your wife or husband is in a different time zone, you can treat them with a nice gift such as a wall clock showing the different countries’ times. You can get yourself one too as a way of constantly being aware of what time it is in other countries.

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