5 reasons why you should use military time [#17]

24-hour time really isn't that complicated – all you have to do is subtract 12.

5 reasons why you should use military time [#17]

Have you ever heard of military time?

Military time, also known as 24-hour time, is a method of timekeeping that is used in many countries around the world. Unlike the standard 12-hour clock that most people are familiar with, military time uses a 24-hour format that begins at midnight (00:00) and continues until the following midnight (24:00).

In military time, each hour of the day is represented by a two-digit number that ranges from 00 to 23. For example, 1:00 PM on a 12-hour clock is represented as 13:00 in military time.

You know, I really think the world would work a lot better if everyone used military time. Here are a few reasons why you should use military time:

1. Reduced ambiguity.

For most situations, it’s easy enough to identify whether a time will occur in the morning or the afternoon. If your boss asks you to come to work at 8:00 and you barge into the office at 8pm, you’ll probably be fired for your incompetence.

Likewise, if your friend invites you over to their house for “dinner at 5”, they’ll curse at you for waking them up (and might hit you with a bat) if you come over expecting food at the ungodly hour of 5am.

But for some situations, it’s considerably less obvious. Imagine your coworker in London wants to meet at 6:00 on Friday – do they mean 6:00am or 6:00pm? It’s clearer if they use military time (06:00 for 6am and 18:00 for 6pm).

That's the reason the military uses military time – because it avoids confusion between the AM and PM hours.

2. It’s more efficient.

If you want to represent a time in 12-hour time, you'll have to use up to 8 digits. An example: 10:47:38 PM has 8 digits while its military (24-hour) time equivalent, 22:47:38 only has 6 digits (as AM/PM isn’t used in military time).

If we all used military time, consider alarm clocks: they wouldn't have to include the AM/PM indicator. Plus, it's marginally easier to store a 6-digit number than a 8-digit number (in terms of data storage).

3. Midnight is awesome.

It’s extremely satisfying to watch a 24-hour clock hit 00:00 at midnight.

4. Converting time is really easy.

Despite what most people say, converting from military time to 12-hour time is incredibly easy. Here's the magic rule: if you see an hour number larger than 12, just subtract 12 (from the hour number) and add PM. Otherwise, just add AM.

That's literally all you have to do. Just subtract 12.

5. Time calculations are easier.

Let's say it's 11:26am². For some random reason, you have to calculate the time exactly 6.5 hours (6 hours and 30 minutes) from now. You have two options:

  • Option A: Add... how many minutes to get to lunch? Ah, 34. Ok so what's 6.5 hours minus 34 minutes? Uhhhh... 5 hours and 56 minutes. So add 5 hours and 56 minutes to get to 5:56PM.
  • Option B: Add 6 hours to 11:26 to get 17:26, and then add 30 minutes to get 17:56. Then, subtract 12 hours from 17:56 to get 5:56PM.

Option B is considerably faster and requires much less brain strain. This is true for most cases where you have to add / subtract time.

So why don't most people use military time?

Military time offers a considerable upgrade to the preexisting system of 12-hour time that practically everyone uses. But since 12-hour time is so ingrained in our daily lives, we probably won't see widespread change anytime soon. There's a reason why the US probably won't ever switch to the metric system.

But if you're halfway convinced by any of these reasons, it's really easy to switch to military time! Almost every single smart device (phone, computer, tablet) will allow you to switch from 12-hour time to 24-hour time in settings.


¹ Hospitals and law enforcement agencies also use military time.

² If you read this sentence at 11:26am, you are legally obligated to subscribe.

Thanks to Rhett Jones for suggesting title ideas for this article.