Daylight Savings Time – Can We Make This the Last One?

While I was updating the umpteenth clock in my life from daylight savings time, I thought to myself, “Why? Why in an era of modern technology are we adjusting our clocks away from the natural solar and lunar events that define day and night?” After adjusting the umpteenth+1 clock at work, I decided to sit down and vent a little about why I think we should stop engaging in daylight savings time.

Spring Forward – Fall Back: What is Daylight Savings Time?

Daylight Savings Time
Daylight Savings Time – Photo by Denise Mattox on Flickr

If you’re not aware, daylight savings time is a ritual where, in the spring, you set the clocks forward by an hour, then in the fall, you set them back an hour. The idea is, during the spring and summer months, you have more daylight available during the working hours. I’ve read several justifications for how this process began, but growing up in a rural agricultural area, it was mostly explained as a way to help the farmers. By moving the clocks forward, the farmers could be out in the fields later at night and still have light to work by. Once the fall harvest was done, there wasn’t the need for extra daylight, so we roll the clocks back.

Why Don’t We Need More Daylight Year-Round?

Of course, the farmers could also get up earlier in the day when the sun comes up, rather than shift everyone else’s schedule around. After all, changing the clocks during daylight savings time doesn’t actually create any more hours of sunlight. The Earth still rotates at a certain speed, creating X hours of daylight and Y hours of night. Also, with modern technology, farmers have excellent artificial lighting on their farm equipment, which would allow them to work in the fields long into the night if needed.

During the winter when the days are shorter, people can suffer from something called seasonal affective disorder. The body craves sunlight, and the dark mornings and short days of winter can lead to depression. I contend that daylight savings time would be even more advantageous in the winter. By pushing the clocks ahead of sunrise, you could maximise the amount of working time that was available during the shorter daylight hours.

Productivity Loss Due To Time Changes

While there are varying studies out there about this topic, I have to believe that daylight savings time causes some productivity losses in the workplace. In the spring, you “lose” an hour of sleep on the weekend that daylight savings time goes into effect. That means people are coming into work on the following Monday groggier than usual. Who knows how much time is spent changing clocks on microwaves, phones, computers, car stereos, etc. instead of living life and working. Then, in the fall, you “gain” an hour of sleep, but wake up the following Monday to a bleak darkness, since sunrise is now delayed by an hour. Again, you waste time resetting the clocks. Surely there has to be a better way.

I say, let’s pick one spring, set the clocks forward (maybe two hours) then leave them alone. We get more sun during the day year-round. We don’t futz around with tweaking the clocks. Let’s put an end to daylight savings time.

For more background on daylight savings time, check out this page on Daylight Savings Time.

Listen While You Work – Podcasts and Audiobooks

As someone who works in manufacturing, I’m often doing things in the shop. Because I’m working with machinery, I’m often wearing hearing protection. I’m also doing something that doesn’t require me to listen intently to what’s going on. I find this an ideal time to put in some earbuds, put the over-the-ear hearing protection on, and turn on my portable music player. If you work in an office setting where you don’t have to answer phones regularly, you might also find it engaging to listen to something other than the noise of the office while working.

Listen to literature – audiobooks

Listen at work
Listen at work

Think about how long you might spend reading a printed book. Now think about how much time you spend at work listening to background noise. Imagine spending that time taking a trip to Hogwart’s instead. Or, if you’re like me, learning about some topic that interests you. Maybe you’re a history buff and would like to explore the US Civil War. Maybe you’re a politico and would enjoy a presidential biography. Me? I like numbers. I’ve “read” titles like
Freakanomics
, Fooled by Randomness, and Outliers while working. It’s amazing how much faster a mundane day of building something goes when you’re mentally stimulated.

Listen to a topical piece – podcasts

If you’re not familiar with podcasts, think of it as a broadcast you listen to on an iPod. Most podcasts are similar to radio shows, in that they have a broadcast schedule and follow a show-specific template from show to show. The differences are, podcasts aren’t done in real-time, so listener interaction isn’t immediate. Podcasts are distributed online, so they’re not subject the the FCC rules that a radio broadcast would be. This can lead to some more bluntness and vulgarity, but also to an openness to discuss topics that might not be suitable for radio broadcast.

Personally, I subscribe to a few stand up comedy related podcasts, where the hosts are or were comics and bring in other comics. It’s an interesting way to peek behind the curtain and learn about the business of comedy. I also follow some social media marketing, photography, and digital graphics podcasts, which let me listen to helpful tips and techniques from people who engage in these fields as a career. No matter what you’re into, a search for “subject podcast” should turn up several listening opportunities.

Listen while driving

Even if you can’t listen to something while working, if you have any kind of a commute, you can use that otherwise unproductive time to listen. Podcasts are ideal for commuting, since most shows run between 30 and 90 minutes. Even if you’re driving, you can enjoy a good book without the danger of reading. If you’re on a road trip, an audiobook might help you pass the long miles while driving. That’s what I’ll be doing when this post goes live.