Time zone changes when traveling

A recurring friction I have with Beeminder occurs when I take a long-haul flight across many time zones. I see two aspects to the problem:

  1. I have to change the time zone manually, which is annoying and can cause derailments if I forget.
  2. I get confused about how many days or nights have elapsed between the time I get on a plane and the time I get off.

The only concrete feature suggestion I have is to automatically update my account time zone with the time zone of my mobile device.

But more broadly I wonder if the Bee Team has thought about this and I’d love to see what the community thinks.

Often the approach I take in practice is just to take a break on all my goals while traveling to avoid confusion - usually when I travel for work I am overwhelmed to begin with and my goals are less relevant since they have to do with challenges of routine daily life.


This is hugely complex for something that sounds so straightforward!

I also used to travel frequently for work and there was no good solution. Luckily, I was mostly bouncing between Europe and North America, with the occasional stint in the Far East. So I was able to set a Beeminder timezone that mostly worked as a universal middle-of-the-night boundary that I didn’t need to think about very often.

Similarly, I had to lock down my TagTime timezone so that it didn’t constantly update the whole goal history when I travelled.

Particular challenges:

  • automated datasources with their own idea of day boundaries
  • reinterpreting (or not) past datapoints based on the new day boundary
  • changing timezones manually can also cause derailments
  • handling extra long or extra short days

There may be a thought piece in the works: @dreev ?
There’s an somewhat related help article about deadlines.


I have lots of thoughts about the Beeminder day vs calendar day problem but much fewer thoughts about timezones, other than to agree with @philip.

Maybe this is like the Copenhagen interpretation of ethics: No matter what we do, timezone-wise, it will sometimes lead to derailments, so it’s safest to do nothing. Suppose we auto-update your timezone to match what your phone or browser says. Pretty non-crazy thing to do! But then if you travel west, we’ve made your goals due earlier in body time. Not (necessarily) fair! Especially if you’re down to the wire when an hour is lopped off the countdown timer. If we don’t auto-update your timezone and you travel east then your goals are all due earlier in clock time. Also not necessarily fair!

But besides Beeminder seeming less culpable in the version where we don’t touch the user-chosen timezone, I think I prefer it as a user. I already mentally keep track of my home timezone for other reasons when traveling so it doesn’t feel like too much of an additional burden to keep in mind that my Beeminder goals also keep using that timezone.

Of course I may just think that because I only ever travel east. My Beeminder goals are always due at a nominally later time when I travel.

Now I’m curious:

Should Beeminder auto-update your timezone when you travel?

  • Yes, consistent clock time is paramount
  • No, don’t presume to change the timezone I set
0 voters

PS: Fun thread about DST stuff:


I have been burned by the current way things work before, but I think it’s probably the best of the bad options, as far as simple solutions.

As katriel said originally, a lot of goals go on break anyway when I travel, which helps. My tagtime goals in particular mostly do, which saves me the hassle of thinking about what the hell is going on there. (Wait, shit…can it retroactively derail me by updating the history, @philip?)

As far as complicated solutions, something analogous to breaks for temporarily changing the due dates of all goals on a future scheduled date might make sense. But I’m not sure it’s worth the effort.


I’m pretty sure that it (old version of tagtime on Mac) compares what Beeminder said happened on a ‘day’ to the pings it thinks happened on a day and ‘fixes’ it. Don’t know how far back in history it goes, but my bmndr.settings.pl file has a line that forces $ENV{TZ} = 'Europe/London';


Oh wait, I had a moment of temporary insanity, I use toggl, not tagtime. :rofl:


1.) this post is super crucial because i’ll begin a very long trip on monday and now at least i know that beeminder will be stuck in the olden times! most of my goals are on break, anyway, but at least i’ll know what’s going on for the ones that aren’t. :)

2.) my sleepy brain is unable to comprehend this right now:

even when you only travel east, you travel west when you travel back! but i guess that just resets to the original time zone in your mind? still, on the way back you loose that extra time again …

i will also be keeping track of my home time zone while i travel, but i imagine it’ll still be super weird to have deadlines in the middle of the day. i don’t have deadlines in the middle of the day on purpose.
but i guess if it bothers me too much i can change it manually.

I could imagine it being reasonable to:

  1. Show a banner on the site if your local time zone does not match your user account time zone.
  2. Include a button on that banner to update your user time zone to match your device time zone.
  3. Have that button result in a dialog that warns you loudly of instant derails and new buffer time for any beemergencies, before letting you go ahead.

People could either choose to stick in their current time zone (but maintain a warning things may behave oddly) or safely switch zone.


I do not know that this has stung me yet, unexpectedly. I know when traveling that the ‘day’ becomes shorter or in any case the time I can devote to a bmndr goal is less anyway.
Once at the destination, I usually set my smartphone and watch to the local time (zone) and expect photos I take while there to have metadata indicating the local time the pictures where taken.
Similarly I expect things I do toward the bmndr goals to also count in local time at that point.
I would need not bmndr itself to automatically, that is without prompting me, set the timezone. It could, however, post an info box indicating the timezone set on my account and the smartphone’s registered timezone are not aligned. It could at that point offer a link to helpdocs about timezones. It could offer a button to tap to set my account’s timezone to the current local timezone (showing me which one it detecting, maybe having that as the default when picking a new one to set while offering the rest in the dropdown as well).
If a banner merely appeared across the top of the screen, mentioning the differing timezones, (I am picturing a small line of text in the ios app before the first goal in the gallery/list of goals), for the duration of the differing timezones, I might find that helpful enough despite being so basic.
As for the datapoints, I would not expect that changing my timezone in my bmndr account to adjust the dates (daystamps) of past datapoints.

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this, very much this! best of both worlds and not magical at all!

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I also used to struggle with timezones. My solution to the problem was to live in the ‘always keep your bees green’ state, where you don’t get to live so close to the edge (i.e. < 1 day until you fail). In such a state, no flight or time zone shift is going to make you fail your goal. I realise that this is probably in the ‘easy to say’ category of advice, but it is what worked for me when I was travelling a lot.