Feature Update: Find more work life balance and change your work habits with custom Work Hours

More than ever, we’re using our digital devices for both work and play. But to find a proper work life balance, protect ourselves from burnout, and be as productive as possible, we can’t blur the lines between our work and non-work time.

You might spend an hour on social media a day. But do you know how much of that is when you want to be working? Or maybe you need help disconnecting from work and want to know how much time you’re spending on email or IM outside of Work Hours.

Being able to set custom time filters around your own work schedule is something we’ve always wanted to bring into RescueTime. And with our new Work Hours feature, now you can.

Want to skip the post and set up your Work Hours right away? Click here to set your personal Work Hours in RescueTime.

Use Work Hour reports for deeper insight into your own work habits

We all want to be more efficient when we’re working. And once you have your Work Hours set, there are a number of quick insights you can see that will help you with just that.

How to use this:

Your Work Hours are visible on any RescueTime chart that shows logged activities plotted on a timeline, such as the productivity “by hour” or “by day” reports. This way, you can see how your activities line up against your Work Hours:

Productivity by hour RescueTime Work Hours
Non-Work Hours are grey while Work Hours are white

On your dashboard you’ll also be able to see a side-by-side breakdown of your work vs. non-work hours, including total time and percentage of time worked during each:

RescueTime Work Hours Dashboard

Finally, when you look at detailed reports of any specific activity, you’ll be able to see whether most of that time was logged inside or outside Work Hours:

RescueTime Work Hours Percentages

Why we think you’ll love this:

It can be hard to understand just how you spend your time at work and outside of it. But the more accurate of a picture you have, the better you’ll be able to schedule your time, stay focused, and be more productive.

Set Work Hours-specific goals

RescueTime goals let you track and change specific behaviors, while Alerts give you real-time data so you can correct yourself before getting off course. Now, with Work Hours-specific goals you can get even more detailed in how you control your day.

Want to limit yourself to 15 minutes of social media during your Work Hours? Set a goal to track your behavior and an alert to trigger a FocusTime session if you go over. Or what about keeping work at work? Set an alert to notify you when you spend more than 15-20 minutes on productive work during non-Work Hours.

(RescueTime Alerts are a Premium feature. Find out more about our different plans here.) 

How to use this:

To set up Work Hours goals, simply create a new goal (Tools > Goals & Alerts > Set a new goal) and use either work hours or off work hours as the time filter.

RescueTime Work Hours Goals

Why we think you’ll love this:

Reports about how you spend your time are great for reflection and planning. But being able to set specific goals and track your progress is a much more powerful tool for changing your work habits.

To get you started, here’s a few specific Work Hours goals you can setup now:

And, if you’re a RescueTime Premium user, here a few Work Hours-specific Alerts you can try out as well:

Set custom Work Hours based on your own schedule

Not all hours of the day are equal. And while an overall view of your digital time is a great start, RescueTime users kept asking for more control. By default, we’ve set everyone’s Work Hours as 8am–6pm, Monday to Friday. If that works for you, great! There’s nothing left to do.

However, for those of you with different schedules, you can customize your Work Hours to optimize for focus when you need it most.

How to use this:

Work Hours are based on 1-hour time blocks. So whether you work a traditional 9-5 or sometime totally different, you’ll be able to set your schedule and see how you spend your time more clearly.

To set up your custom Work Hours simply open up your RescueTime Dashboard and then head to Tools > Advanced Filters.

RescueTime Advanced Filters

From there, you’ll be able to select your normal Work Hours.

Set Work Hours RescueTime

Why we think you’ll love this:

You can probably think of lots of reasons why you’d want to separate your work and non-work hours. But here are a few of our favorites:

  • Know exactly how you’re spending your time at work: Are you regularly doing work outside Work Hours? Or spending too much time on social media during the workday? Now there’s no more guessing.
  • See when during the day you’re doing your “core work”: So many people tell us they’re so distracted during the work day that the only time they have to do their main tasks (like writing, designing, coding, etc…) is after everyone’s gone home. By seeing what you do inside and outside of Work Hours, you can get a clearer picture of this, and hopefully adjust your schedule accordingly.
  • Schedule more breaks and downtime: Clear Work Hours means it’s easier to be diligent about tracking your breaks and taking time to disconnect and recharge throughout the day.

Include breaks or work “shifts” to make sure you’re taking downtime throughout the day

Being productive during your Work Hours isn’t just about working more. Research and studies agree that we all do better work when we take regular breaks. One of the great added benefits of setting your Work Hours is that it also allows you to schedule downtime into your days.

How to use this:

Let’s say you normally work from 8am–5pm during the week, but take a daily lunch break from 12-1pm and like to browse social media or do other “unproductive” tasks to recharge.

Here’s how you can set that schedule so your Work Hours aren’t tainted by the activities you do during your lunch break:

  • Go to your Tools > Advanced Filters and select Edit Your Work Hours
  • Create your first work hours session (so, in our example that would be 8am-12pm)
  • Select Advanced Options and add a new Work Hours session to each day (in our example, this would be 1–5pm)
  • Add any other hour-long breaks you want to throughout the day

RescueTime Work Hours Advanced

This feature is also great for if you do multiple “shifts” of work throughout the day. So for example, let’s say you do a lot of work early in the morning and then pick it back up later. Simply change your Work Hours to reflect this (say, 5am-9am and 2pm-6pm) and add more shifts as necessary.

Why we think you’ll love this:

Breaks help you recharge and stay focused throughout the day. But how many times do you take one only to end up scrolling through social media for an hour? Or even worse, doing “that one thing you don’t want to forget”and then working through your break?

With custom breaks in Work Hours, you can see exactly how you’re spending your time during your breaks and even set alerts and goals for during those time periods.

We all benefit from a good work life balance. But it’s often hard to know when we’re tipping one way or the other.

With our new Work Hours feature, however, you now have much more insight into and control over how you spend your time. Both when you want to be working and when you want to be resting.

Want to learn more about work life balance and working hours?

Jory MacKay

Jory MacKay is a writer, content marketer, and editor of the RescueTime blog.


  1. It sure is a good feature to add, I am getting the benefits from it already. I generally play a game or do social networking during my lunch hour which shows up as distracting time, now it is nice to differentiate that outside of the work hours.

    Thanks for the new feature! Keep ’em coming. :

    1. Thanks Umut! That’s one of the exact use cases we had in mind when we built this feature. Glad it’s working out for you.

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