Methods, systems, and devices for wireless communication are described. A device may tailor its operations to different configurations or conditions by adjusting procedures associated with a radio link control (RLC) layer by reference to a value defined at a medium access control (MAC) layer. The device may, for example, receive from a network a value for a timer associated with the retransmission of RLC packet data units (PDUs). The device may adjust the timer value based on a radio resource configuration or channel conditions, such as a number of RLC PDUs discarded or retransmitted in an interval defined by one or more MAC layer operations. In some examples, a ratio of discarded and retransmitted RLC PDUs and an interval for hybrid automatic repeat request (HARQ) retransmissions is used as basis for determining channel conditions and thus for selecting a timer value for RLC PDU retransmission.