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Daylight Savings Time: How to Stay Productive

daylight savings time - watch on a mans wrist

After a long winter of shrinking daylight, Daylight Savings Time (DST) is here to reverse the trend! This is the weekend we “spring forward” and set our clocks ahead by one hour, thus making the sun set at a later hour in the day.

What is DST

Daylight Savings Time began in 1916 in Germany to save energy for the war effort. Shortly after, in 1918, the US adopted the practice. Contrary to popular belief, DST was not implemented to benefit farmers. Instead, it was believed that adjusting the clocks was a way to conserve energy and make better use of natural daylight. Today’s advanced technology has made those energy savings negligible. However, the practice continues in most of the US. Daylight Savings Time begins in the spring and ends in the fall when clocks “fall back.” The US is one of 70 countries to participate in the time change, though not all 50 states do. Arizona and Hawaii have both opted-out, along with US external territories.  


Though most people look forward to Daylight Savings Time and the additional daylight it brings, it comes with a trade off. It may not seem like a big deal, but there can be implications to consider.

Loss of Sleep

By “springing forward,” our natural sleep cycles are disrupted. It’s estimated that most people lose 40 minutes of sleep after DST begins; this can mean sluggish employees in the office.

Loss of Productivity

The Monday after a time change is likely to be an unproductive day. For every hour of interrupted sleep an employee suffers, they slack off on 20% of their work the next day.

Time and Payroll Adjustment

A time change can mean an adjustment to processes for non-exempt employees. Those that will be working during the time change may need to have their schedule adjusted to account for the lost or extra hour or may need to be paid overtime.

How to stay productive

Before you chalk Monday up as a wasted day, don’t worry! There are ways to mitigate the loss of sleep and its resulting dip in productivity.

Don’t schedule important meetings the Monday after Daylight Savings Time

As a manager, do your team a favor and don’t schedule important meetings the morning after a time change. Important meetings should be pushed, if possible, to later in the day, if not later in the week.

Get plenty of exposure to light – ideally sunlight

There’s a reason people tend to be happier and more energized in the summer. Sunlight is a great source of Vitamin D and triggers the release of several key hormones in the body associated with improved moods and increased focus. Additionally, exposure to sunlight during the day can help your body adjust to a new circadian (sleep) rhythm by staving off the production of melatonin until darkness. Take a walk during lunch, open the blinds in your office, and spend the extra daylight hours outdoors.

Be patient acclimating

Be patient with yourself and your team during the week after a time change. The effects of disrupted sleep and sleep loss can take 2-4 days to subside. If you can, consider starting to adjust to a new sleeping pattern a few days before the time change.  

Set time blocks for work and breaks (50/10)

While you are working, employ tried and true concentration “hack.” Work for 50 minutes with no distractions, including phone, email, or face-to-face interruptions. Then take a 10-minute break to take a walk, get coffee, or stretch. Encourage your team to do the same.

With a bit of planning and these few tips, you and your team can lose an hour this weekend without loosing your sanity or productivity.

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