It’s winter time in Berlin, and besides the annoying cold outside, the other big minus of this season are its short days: The sun starts going down already around 4 pm. But with a little trick, I extended it to 6pm! Here is how.

Let the sun longer shine with Moscow time (photo by saragoldsmith/flickr)

I’ve set all my clocks to Moscow time. Moscow’s time zone is UTC+3, which is two hours ahead of Berlin’s zone (in winter): UTC+1. So when it’s 8am in the morning in Berlin, it is 10am in Moscow; when it’s midnight in Berlin, it is 2am in Moscow.

By using Moscow time in Berlin, life becomes much more convenient:

  • My supermarket around the house is now opened until midnight; another, farther one even until 2am
  • The S-Bahn operates (on weekdays) even until 3am
  • Doctor and dentist appointments can be made until 8 or even 9pm
  • Same with many phone support hotlines
  • Bürgeramt appointments are available until 8pm
  • At lunch time, my favourite restaurant still offers the full lunch menu when I arrive
  • If I’d have a regular 9-to-5-job, I’d probably be amazed that it only starts at 11am, and I am getting so much more sleep. Thanks, boss!
  • And of course: The sun sets not before 6pm. It’s like spring already!

Perhaps switching to Moscow time should be extraordinarily easy if you actually are from Moscow: No mixups in Skype call dates, as all your friends and family are still in the same time zone – you just can brag about how much more daylight there is in Berlin!

The only negative thing: At parties on the weekend, people often wonder why I’m already leaving so early. (“But it’s 2am already!”)

But what’s also nice is that your computer easily adapts: If you set Moscow as its timezone, it will make Facebook show it’s events with the timezone added (so like 7pm UTC+1), which is a nice reminder that the world around you has their clocks still ticking differently. Same works for Google Calendar. But even if you forget about it, at worst you will be early for appointments, not late.

“Now, seriously, is this a joke?” – you might ask. And I answer: kind of, kind of not.

Here’s the thing: if you’re actually missing daylight in winter time but then often you sleep in the morning when it’s already light, then you’re apparently acting ineffectively.

And now you could change that going the way that you try to “get up earlier”, “eat earlier”, and “not stay up so late at night”. However, this requires constantly reminding yourself about it and a lot of will power.

But I’m lazy: I don’t want to adapt all my habits and triggers, just because the season changes.

This is like the other, the Moscow time way: I simply keep doing what I do, and leave all my triggers and habits in place.

  • Looking at my clock at 10am tells me: Oh, that’s late, I should get up
  • Seeing “2pm” makes me think of lunch
  • “7pm”: I should go home and have dinner
  • “Midnight / 1am”: Really late already, should go to bed

So all my current triggers keep working as they did; no adjustment, no will power needed. And I get two hours more of sun for free. Easy, isn’t it?

So when the semi-annual switch is made to and from Daylight Savings Time, I will go the other way around: In March, when DST is switched on, I will switch back from Moscow time to actual Berlin (DST) time. (As in summer, there is plenty of daylight.) But when in October, DST is switched back, I will set my clock forward to DST on steroids, aka Moscow time. Because seriously: Who needs a timezone with a sunset on 4pm?!

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