/ lifehacks

Daylight Saving Time Smearing

I've been a non-fan of daylight saving(s)[1] time for years. I for whatever reason cannot handle losing an hour of sleep abruptly once a year. The extra hour 7 8[2] months later is not a replacement. While there have been many calls to abolish it altogether, these are extremely slow processes. Therefore I will propose a solution.

It won't be perfect. It might annoy your coworkers, family, friends, and acquaintances for a few weeks out of the year. It just may make you a bit too early to catch breakfast at your nearest free tech company cafe (I work at Google, first world problems right?). But it's the best I've got. And it's the solution this country deserves right now, if not the one it needs [3].

I propose (and I'm working on a proof of concept[4]) a system which I've decided to call Daylight Saving Time Smearing [5]. It works by spreading out the extra (or missing) hour over a period of two weeks; 12 days to be exact. By adding 5 minutes to your clock every day for 12 days, you end up adding 60 minutes.

My reasoning is simple. It is extremely difficult to wake up an hour early (especially after sleeping in on the weekend), but it's much easier to wake up 5 minutes early. By waking up 5 minutes early, 12 days in a row, you've just entered the cheat code to beat the last boss (Father Time, or his alter-ego Doctor Chronos) of this game we call life.

On to the implementation. I have considered a number of methods, but I feel the best one to start with with which to start is a modification to the Android Alarms app. It will add a preference to turn this on for transitioning to – and another for transitioning from – DST.

This will allow you to set a number of days to smear in order to feel comfortable with the transition. I feel that 12 days is a good balance between ease of waking-up and awkwardness of time-shifting. If you smear the hour over 60 days, for example, you'll be at least a half-hour early for things for a whole month. This is not really a desirable situation. If you smear it over a week, you'll have to wake up 10 minutes earlier every day, something that requires much more will-power on which to follow through.

A potential future implementation of this concept could be NTP servers set up to change your clock 5 minutes every day for 12 days prior to DST, but this would be less configurable, more opaque to the outside world, and would cause a myriad of time-related headaches, so a userland feature is probably best until/unless this becomes a standard.

1. ^ I recently learned it's saving, not savings.
2. ^ Because why not add another month?
3. ^ Get it? The Dark Knight? Since abolishing DST would make nights dark an hour earlier? I crack myself up.
4. ^ 20% time is wonderful.
5. ^ Prior art. Thanks Google SRE team!