Travel Wishlist for Calendaring and Time Zones

As the end of TechEd draws near, I’ve started looking ahead to next week on my calendar and find myself annoyed with the way time zones are handled in the applications I use to manage my schedule. I use Outlook 2007 at work, Google Calendar for my personal schedule and then sync them together with Google Sync on my BlackBerry.

I know scheduling across times zones is a necessary evil with today’s distributed workforce and it’s great that my appointments are adjusted to the proper time when I’m coordinating with people in other parts of the country. But I wish I could specify on my calendar what time zone I’d like “see” for any given range of days.

For example, an appointment that I have at 10am next Tuesday on the west coast, is going to be at 10am local time on the day I am in that time zone. Today (while in New Orleans for TechEd) if I look at that appointment it reports that it’s scheduled for noon, because my entire calendar reflects my current time zone. If someone calls me and wants to schedule something else for Tuesday, I have to convert the time zone in my head for my existing appointments before I can commit to another event on the west coast. (If everyone sent me calendar invites via email with meeting requests, this would be less of an issue, but that’s hardly realistic expectation from my dentist, for example.)

My calendar “wish” is a feature that would allow me to specify that my calendar reflect all my appointments is the Pacific time zone, unless I change a range of dates to use an alternate zone or to match the zone on my computer or mobile device. This way future appointments would be reflected in time zones that are relevant to my expected physical location at the time of the meeting, not my physically location at the time I’m looking at my calendar. Basically, it would be a little “override” feature for the way calendaring handles time zones now.

By no means have I thought out all the details of how this should work and I’ll be the first person to admit that I don’t think like a developer, but I’m gonna toss my “wish” out there into the wind. Who knows, maybe a feature in the next version of Outlook will be my idea. (Or maybe this is already possible and it’s just not clear to me… either way, I want it!)

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