How to set Goals in RescueTime

In RescueTime, you can set goals for the time you spend on different activities, categories, or productivity levels. Each goal you create will give you a set of reports so you can track your progress and stay motivated. With Premium, your goals can include real-time notifications to keep you on target.

What makes a good goal?

It’s helpful to give some thought up front to the goals you choose. Goals should represent a change in your time that will positively impact you. Otherwise, what’s the point of setting the goal in the first place?

Pick the right things to measure

You have a lot of choices for what you track in your goals.

What activities are the best representation of what you’re trying to change?

You can set a goal for your total logged time, time in a specific productivity level, time for a particular category or sub-category, and even time for a single application or website. Think about what it is you’re trying to change, and select the level of granularity that best represents what you’re hoping to accomplish.

For example:

  • Be specific when it makes sense: If you want to cut down on time in Email, don’t set a goal for “Less time in Communication & Scheduling activities." Set a goal for “Less time in email,” or “Less time in Outlook." Is there one app that makes the difference for you? A marketer might choose something like “More time in MailChimp." 

  • Go wide when it’s appropriate: If you know your meaningful work happens in a lot of different related apps or websites, choose a category that makes the most sense, “More time in Software Development.” If your priority is to cut down your overall screen time, choose “Less time on All Time."

Select the correct time of day.

Context is critical when trying to change your behavior. There is almost always a time of day, or a day of the week, where an activity matters more than others. You can use Time Filters to segment your time, so your goals focus on the important times to make a change.

For example, you might want to maximize the meaningful work you do during the week, but someone struggling with workaholic tendencies might want to reduce the time spend on work at night or on the weekends.

Some examples: 

  • “More time in productive time, Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.”
  • “Less time on Social media in the evenings.”
Choose a reasonable amount

Being ambitious feels good when setting goals, but then you have to be ambitious, and that’s a lot harder. Choose a goal amount that you think you can reach and maintain. Your RescueTime reports can help you out here by showing you what your typical daily average is. Instead of trying to double your time in a specific activity, maybe shoot for boosting it by 20%?

Understand why you’ve chosen the goal

You should take a few moments to think about the reason you are interested in a particular goal, and what a successful outcome will look like. The "why?" is as important to think about as the "what?" when it comes to setting a good goal. Imagine you’ve met your goal and it's a smashing success. What will you have accomplished?

A good format to think about the reasons behind the goal is this:

“Spending  MORE/LESS time on DESCRIBE ACTIVITY activities is important because WHY IT MATTERS.”

Here are some examples:

“Spending less time on communication activities is important because if I am not careful, keeping up with email can get in the way of the more high impact activities I have to do.”

“Spending more time on writing is important because journaling helps me collect my thoughts and figure out what I’m trying to say. It makes me a more effective communicator.”

“Spending more time on productive activities before 5 pm is important because there is only so much time in the work day and I don’t want to take work home at night.”

“Spending less time on social media is important because I value my sanity and social media drives me crazy if I do it too much.”

If you can’t come up with a good reason for a goal, maybe it’s not a good goal in the first place.

More ways to think about setting useful goals

If you are interested in digging into some of the science behind what makes a compelling goal, check out our free ebook,  A Short Guide to Setting and Achieving Goals.

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