The 75% Rule For Time Based Goals

So, with time goals (even before beeminder) I have always had the issue of how strict to be on the timing. For example do I count it against myself if I get a message and respond to? What about a quick bathroom break? Well what I have been doing the last three weeks is what I call the 75% rule. Meaning of the time I have logged I should be actually doing what the log says. So if I have an hour logged that means up to 15 minutes of that I could be distracted. This has lowered my stress levels a bit because I know no longer feel guilty if I quickly respond to a message or something while say working on homework. Also there is the simple fact I can not stay focused on something 100% of the time as I will get distracted.

What do y’all think about this method?


I think this is a slippery slope. How can you be sure that you’re not cheating and actually doing less than 75% ?

On second thought though, I think it really depends. If it decreases your anxiety/guilt that could actually make you more productive.


Yea I could see that, though thus far it has made more productive and I have been getting things done for school early rather than a day before they are due.


I don’t have a strict percentage, but I generally don’t stop the clock for bathroom breaks, getting coffee, a quick answer to a text message, etc. If the quick answer turns into something longer than a couple of minutes, or I get sidetracked on my way to the bathroom and hang up a load of laundry, I do deduct that from my on-task time. If I had to pick a percentage, I’d probably want something like 90% on-task.

But the #1 thing is that your rule maximizes your progress toward your goal. If 75% is your sweet spot, then it’s perfect. Heck, if 30% is your sweet spot, then that’s perfect. Basically, the right % is the one for which any higher % would actually achieve less productive time spent.

(On a side note: a benefit for me in being a little lenient in on-task % is that I don’t feel “cheated” when I spend five minutes on one of my goals but forgot to track it.)


Yeah, this is something I’ve thought about as well. I like the 75% rule, though to really implement it requires that you start and stop your timer every time.

For me, it’s enough that I have the timer running, my work out, and am doing some work - the whole idea is to get me started. So I don’t worry too much about time in the bathroom or short breaks - I just see it as part of the process.

There’s also the issue that even if I’m 100% focused and working the whole time, I’m not necessarily at max productivity, because I tend to procrastinate by spending time on things like organizing files, formatting, and minor language tweaks. Doing 2 hours of that is less productive than 30 minutes of diving into the hard part.

Ha, I’ve noticed this too! I love that!

By using a timer - but of course if you’re gonna do that, you could just decrease your time requirement by 25% and use strict timing.

Otherwise, it’s just a rough guess. But if the slippery slope starts to be an issue, you could address that with other goals to reduce distractions, like to lock your phone up in a time safe or something.


I’m new to Beeminder but I’m someone who’s always used pomodoros or timers while studying to stay productive.

I had this problem same as you and I’d find myself spending a few mins doing something else and would feel like I’ve disregarded the timer and would cancel the whole session and restart.

The problem with this above method is that it is too strict and too rigid and leaves no breathing room.

Your 75% rule is a good solution to the issue but I can’t help but think eventually you’ll intentionally work only 75% of the time and use the 25% to do other things. Like it’ll become planned. That’s fine if it works for you. But I feel eventually, something like that would get to me and leave me unsatisfied.

What I do now instead is completely different. I use a timer to time not my focused study hours but instead the time of the day I intend to study and not relax or waste time - I call it the work hours. That means I plan it out that during this intended study time, I’ll not listen to audiobooks, game or go out. But other spontaneous things that you can’t plan or foresee like taking a phone call or replying to a text, I do while keeping the timer going. Today, I ended up having a discussion with family about something and I let it happen on the clock.

I have found this to improve my quality of work, leave me more satisfied and less exhausted by trying to forcefully concentrate. Often, the biggest drain is not focussing itself but forcing focus when not ideal. Think of it as a soldier doing his daily patrol that he has to cover like it’s a march, walking rigidly as opposed to the soldier walking casually, letting himself sway as he walks but still manages to cover the distance. Excuse the bad analogy.

Obviously, work time has to be longer than your targeted focus time.

This is basically like using the input based goals rather than output based to the input itself. Instead of saying “I’ll sit and focus for 6 hours today”, you’re saying “I’ll plan my day out and carve a period of 8 hours for work today. At this time, I’ll not do that, that, this and that.”

Maybe it will not work for all but does for me and probably will some of you.


For me keeping aware of what I’m doing and not trying to milk myself for productive hours works for me. I measure drawing hours and include breaks in that.
I generally give myself a 10 minute break for every 50 minutes of work but most of the time I don’t use it and thus there’s no reason for me to feel guilty to take a 5 minute break whenever to grab a snack with the timer still on or replying to messages. I think something like phone distractions are bad not because they eat into your productive time but because they completely can break up your flow and focus.

I think if you’re anxious about things you should set out some terms in writing as what you can count towards the timer and when you should pause it or work with regular breaks.
I know there’s a thing that tends to happen as well where we try to waste time “productively” I.E procrasinate by watching YT about say drawing rather than actually drawing. This is where specifically defining your terms comes in handy. It’s not those videos are devoid of worth at all but I can only really get much if it’s spliced in with practice.
Good luck and remember to be nice to yourself!