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How to Create a Conducive Animator Work Environment

ben marvazi 2020

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There are many pros of working from home as a freelance animator - no time-wasting commute; more flexible working hours; increased time with friends, family, and pets; and better control over your own schedule. 

However, embarking on a career as a freelance animator comes with its own set of challenges and it’s essential to create a conducive animator work environment in order to ensure your success in the long run.

According to research by the Harvard Business Review, freelancers working from home and adopting a conducive freelance work environment are more productive. Why? A quiet and conducive animator work environment is the key to getting more done without distractions.

Moreover, creating a conducive animator work environment, especially in a creative field, provides you with a space to nurture your creativity - a massive advantage as a freelance animator.

In short, a home office provides you with the power to create a conducive animator work environment and set boundaries in a way you might not be able to in a more traditional office environment. Plus, you don’t have to wear pants. Although you should. But more on that later.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into what a conducive animator work environment looks like and share some tips on how freelance animators can make their work environment more conducive to work.

Here are some important factors to consider when creating a conducive animator work environment:

Interpersonal Relationships in an Animator Work Environment

an animator needs social interaction for a conducive space

GIF by How the Grinch Stole Christmas via Tenor

While colleagues and co-workers can act as distractions in a traditional office environment, it is still important for you, as a freelance animator and human being, to have at least a medium level of social interaction.

Part of creating a conductive animator environment is creative stimulation. You should interact with other animators, by communicating daily via phone, email, or in person. Communicate daily by phone, e-mail, and in person. 

Even as a freelance animator, you are still often working as part of a team, be it with other animators or simply communicating with animation clients. Therefore, it’s important not to alienate yourself from others in the animation industry.

Moreover, it can occasionally become lonely working from home all day. You might begin to miss those casual interactions with co-workers - a quick gossip at the water-cooler or catching up at the coffee machine. It becomes your responsibility to make your animator work environment unique and stimulating. 

How can you do this? Communicate. Reach out to colleagues via Zoom, Loom, or Skype. Grab a coffee with mom or dad. A quick phone call to a friend or partner during your lunch break.

Planning these social opportunities not only strengthens your personal relationships but also gives you some human interaction to look forward to.

Remember: You’re not working on Mars, just from your home office. Interacting with other people isn’t only allowed, it’s encouraged in order for you to create a conducive animator environment. 

One in which you can bounce ideas off other animators, take your mind off the stress of the day, or simply recharge your batteries by connecting with those important to you.

Create a Designated Work Area in Your Animator Work Environment

a work area for an animator or their office

GIF by GabriellaDemartino via Tenor

Possibly the most important factor to consider when creating a conducive animator work environment is to create a designated work area. You need to carve out a space to work from that feels separate from the rest of your general living area. 

Seek out a dedicated area for work that is distraction-free and is a set area you can go to each day to work. The last thing you want to do is waste precious mental energy trying to figure out where you’re going to set up shop every morning. 

This could be a home office, study, garage, shed, or even dining room table. As long as you have your work-from-home station set up and ready to go you are on the right track to creating a conducive animator environment.

Creating a designated work area is especially important for creatives like freelance animators.

The work environment of an animator will often include certain tools and equipment, like graphics tablets, drawing gloves, headphones, and monitor screens. It makes sense to have everything in one place rather than lugging everything around every day.

A good rule of thumb when it comes to the work environment for animators is to create a similar setup to how your desk might look in the office or at an animation studio. Here are some great tips for turning your home office into a conducive animator work environment:

  • Choose the quietest corner of your house free from any distracting noises like dogs barking, television chatter, or kids playing.
  • It’s also a good idea to pick a room with a door that closes so you can block out anything that may be a nuisance. 
  • Avoid clutter in your workspace. Keep your desk clean - you don’t want to be swimming through a sea of extra paper and pens, so make sure you organize your equipment. 
  • Those half-full coffee cups piling up in the corner of your desk? Just another thing to distract you from your productivity and concentration.
  • Consider breathing some life into your animator work environment by adding a desk or floor plant. It could provide some inspiration or give your eyes some visual variety.

Having an area to work and stay committed throughout the day is essential to create a conducive animator environment because it helps you get into and stay in the right frame of mind.

Improving Work Performance in Your Animator Work Environment

work towards making your animator work environment better

GIF by superraedizzle via Tenor

Another important factor in terms of creating a conducive animator work environment is to maintain your performance at a high level. You will be responsible for making decisions that affect coworkers and clients on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. 

Part of being a freelance animator is to make important decisions without the influence of a boss or supervisor.

You will need to be exact and be accurate when working on an animation project so you need to make sure your animator work environment is optimal for you to make these kinds of decisions. 

In your work environment as an animator you will be required to meet strict deadlines, often repeat the same physical activities, and set tasks and goals independently. So how can creating a conducive animator work environment encourage better work performance?

Firstly, before you even start your daily tasks, spend at least 10 minutes each morning formulating a detailed checklist. Once you have done this, take some time to break this down into a shorter list focusing on the tasks you know you can get done in the first half of the day.

If you are overwhelmed with too many unachievable tasks your animator work environment will become unfavorable. Breaking down tasks breaks down your day into smaller, easy-to-achieve segments and helps you focus on the important things you need to get done.

Additionally, checking off items on your to-do list gives you a visual sense of your accomplishments which, in turn, will prompt further productivity.

While working in an office or at an animation studio, commuting gives you a chance to wake up and prepare yourself for the day ahead before you even get to your desk.

As a freelance animator working from home, however, the transition from bed to your desk can be a bit more challenging.

Therefore, self-motivation is key in terms of work performance as a freelance animator. The best way to do this is to get into the habit of starting your to-do list as soon as you wake up in the morning. 

Not only do you have a few extra hours in the day that would have been lost to the morning commute, but getting an early start can actually help you to make progress gradually throughout the day.

Wake up, make a cup of coffee and start working right away. This will create a conducive animator work environment by getting the bulk of your work done early and giving you time to check off more of those to-do list items later in the day.

Time Management in an Animator Work Environment

some animators find themselves in saying "too much to do and not enough time"

GIF by Hallmark Channel via GIPHY

Work performance is also affected by time management - another essential factor to consider when creating a conducive work environment as an animator. 

As a freelance animator, it is not unusual to have an irregular schedule. This may be a result of varying projects or deadlines. At times you may have several projects on the go at the same time, or perhaps sometimes none at all. 

Since you are your own manager, supervisor, and boss when working from home, you are in charge of your own schedule and working hours. It is, however, easy to lose focus without in-person meetings and structured clock-in and clock-out times.

This is why it is important to work on your time management skills as an animator. Structure and organization are invaluable in terms of running your own animation business. Here are some top tips for time management to create a conducive animator work environment:

  • Stick to the same working hours every day as if you would working at an office or animation studio. 
  • Keep your morning workout, get dressed for work, plan your lunch break and avoid any unrelated household chores during business hours.
  • Stay on schedule by dividing your day into what you need to get done and when. Make use of online calendars like Google Calendar or iCalendar to structure your day.
  • Keeping a daily structure in place is also beneficial for maintaining a work/life balance as it helps you avoid the dreaded job creep and prevents your work from invading your personal life.

Remember: as a freelance animator working from home you now have at least two extra hours each day that you would have spent commuting.

This allows you to plan your day better, create a conducive animator work environment for yourself, and, as a result, improve your quality of life and decrease your stress. 

More time in the day and fewer distracting conversations lead to increased creativity as an animator and allow you to be more thoughtful and intentional about your work.

Set Boundaries in Your Animator Work Environment

an animator setting boundaries in their animation work environment

GIF by New Girl via GIPHY 

Another important factor to consider when creating a conducive animator work environment is learning how to set boundaries for your professional and personal life. You can do this by being mindful of how much time you spend working every day. 

For example, pick a set time to start working each day and set a calendar alert to remind yourself to stop working at the end of the day. 

It is very important to remember that working from home as a freelance animator does not equate to being available all the time. It is important to set these boundaries with your animation clients to prevent them from expecting you to be available outside of your working hours.

You also need to set boundaries with the people you live with. Have a conversation with your friends, family, or roommates ahead of time to set ground rules for during work hours. For example, let them know about important meetings in advance.

Make it clear that you are working or ‘in-office’ either by keeping your door closed, using a do-not-disturb sign, or establishing some kind of signal that you should not be interrupted.

For example, if you are wearing your headphones or drawing gloves you are working and should not be barged in on.

This goes back to ensuring that you have a dedicated animation work environment that is separate from your personal life. It also lends to your own productivity by ensuring that you are disciplined and free from distractions while in your dedicated animator work environment.

By initiating boundaries and conveying them upfront to your family, roommates, and colleagues you are holding yourself accountable and ensuring that you stay focused, reach your objectives and remain productive

If your animator work environment happens to be a shared space with another work-from-home adult, it is also important to set boundaries within the workspace. For example, make sure to lay ground rules in terms of meeting times, quiet times, desks and chairs, and so forth.

Remember: Just because you're working from home doesn't mean you're home.

Eat Well in Your Animator Work Environment

an animator eating well in their animator work environment

GIF by reactiongifs via GIPHY

Another factor important in creating a conducive animator work environment is to make time to eat properly. It might seem obvious but finding a good eating routine when working at home can be a challenge for some freelance animators. 

When it comes to working from home it is easy to automatically drift to the kitchen and fill up on easily accessible unhealthy snacks. Instead, try to get into the routine of meal prepping and stocking up on healthy snacks when creating your conducive animator work environment.

It is important to remember that an unhealthy diet can affect productivity and drain your energy. Eating healthily helps you to function better and forms an essential part of your freelance animator routine

Here are some helpful tips to assist you in eating well when working from home:

  • Consider eating the same thing every day for breakfast and lunch. This prevents you from ordering something unhealthy when you are not sure what to eat. 
  • Meal delivery services, such as Home Chef or Blue Apron, are a great way to meal prep for the week and offer healthy, tasty options that are easy and convenient to prepare.
  • Take some time each week to prepare food and plan meals for the week ahead. This helps you to avoid wasting precious work hours thinking about what to eat and allows you to spend that energy at your desk instead.

Eat and sleep often go hand-in-hand so it is also important to stick to a proper sleep schedule. Make sure you feed your body with healthy fuel and get enough rest. So hold off on binge-watching those Netflix shows until the weekend and avoid screens an hour before bedtime. 

The combination of a healthy diet and proper sleep is just what you need to create the perfect work environment as an animator and ultimately make a success of working from home.

Taking Breaks in Your Animator Work Environment

an animator announcing that it's their break time

GIF by Kim's Convenience via GIPHY 

The secret to creating a conducive animator work environment is to take regular breaks. Sitting in front of your computer, tablet, or sketch pad for hours on end is inherently draining. Your eyes begin to strain, your body gets stiff, and your energy is depleted. 

It is essential to remember to get up out of your chair and get your body moving. If possible, try to get outside. Fresh air and sunlight can give you that refreshing boost of energy to get you through the next set of work hours.

For example, take a walk around the block while returning phone calls or sit on the terrace or in your garden while you take your lunch break.

The best way to make sure you’re taking enough regular breaks throughout the workday is to plan and set ground rules for managing your time. You can do this by separating your day. For example, work for two and a half hours, break for 15 mins, or whatever works best for you.

Clearly segmenting your day into work hours and break times will help you to avoid getting distracted and blurring the lines between work time and other tasks, while also preventing eye strain, giving your body a chance to stretch, and for you to grab a glass of water or a healthy snack.

Avoid the temptation of defaulting to social media when you take a break and, instead, catch up on reading or take a walk away from your phone and computer screen.

Breaks are especially important for creatives like animators. Stress can greatly affect our creativity and problem-solving abilities and sometimes you could be working on a shot for five hours and it doesn’t look much different than when you started.

This is when you should get up, get out and recharge those batteries.

Taking regular breaks is absolutely essential when creating a conducive animator work environment insofar as breaks recharge you to work better. Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean that you need to be working all the time to be more productive.

Ask for Help in an Animator Work Environment

an animator asking for help

GIF by lucifernetflix via Tenor

Communication is key in any business and the business of animation as a freelancer is no different. In order to create a conducive animator work environment, you need to be able to communicate and ask for help when you need it.

It might feel different or even wrong to ask for help when you’re in your home animator work environment rather than if you were in an office. The idea that you may be bothering someone could cause you to hesitate. 

However, it is essential to keep in mind that, as a freelance animator, the responsibility falls solely on your shoulders to ask questions, communicate with clients and team members, and clarify things you may be unsure about. After all, no one else is going to do it for you.

In this case, it is important for you to be proactive. Message people that you don’t know or ask for the team’s advice in a group chat. Keep the lines of communication open with your team by creating a space for asking for help or simply discussing the project. 

For example, you can set up a forum, dedicated group chat, or utilize a productivity tool, such as Slack. Providing an open environment for people to communicate is one of the best ways to create and nurture a conducive animator work environment for everyone.

Besides fostering an open dialogue, communication can also help you overcome the isolation you may experience while working from home. Moreover, regular correspondence can help to institute and perpetuate enduring relationships, be it with clients or team members, and lead, ultimately, to a sustained conducive animator work environment. 

Keep in mind that communication is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach and you should take time to consider which tools or methods of communication your colleagues or animation clients may favor; for example, phone, email, group chat, video conferencing, Google Chat, or Microsoft Teams.

Finally, communication is also beneficial for creating a conducive animator work environment because it can be effective in helping you change gear.

It may be refreshing for you to connect and bounce ideas off others in the animator industry or perhaps an animation client can help you see a problem in a different way.

Make Sure You Have The Right Equipment in Your Animator Work Environment

an animator struggling with their equipment at their animation work environment

GIF via Tenor

The key to creating a conducive work environment for animators is to have the right tools to do their job. As a freelance animator, there is some essential equipment you will need to ensure that it is the ideal work environment for an animator.

You probably already have the basic animation hardware that you’d stock at home even if you were working at an animation studio, such as small hardware like a stylus pen, graphics tablets, and drawing gloves.

It is also important to kit out your animator work environment with large hardware such as an ergonomic chair, desks and drawing tables, TVs and projectors, and computers and monitors.

You should also consider using the latest and most up-to-date animation software such as Adobe After Effects, Autodesk, Blender, Flipbook.

Another essential piece of equipment required for creating a conducive animator work environment is effective project management tools that can aid teams and individuals. Trello, Workfront, Smartsheet are worthwhile options to check out.

Video calling is a necessity when working from home as a freelance animator. You will need to conduct meetings with clients, communicate with teammates, and do presentations. 

Not everyone utilizes the same video conferencing application so be sure to install the common ones, like Zoom, Loom, and Skype, and confirm ahead of time which video conferencing platform is preferred.

Invest in a pair of comfortable, high-quality headphones. Noise-canceling headphones are great for blocking background noise while you conduct meetings and help you to focus on your animation projects without distractions from the outside world.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of social media. You should consider social tools such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok as part of the equipment you need to create a conducive animator work environment. 

Social media are not only invaluable in terms of promoting your work as an animator but also include robust tools to make working from home seamless.

For example, Facebook Portal on the Workplace app allows you to dial rooms for meetings and hold large-scale meetings with team members or animation clients.

Cut Yourself Some Slack in Your Animator Work Environment

nobody has the perfect animator work environment as no animator is perfect

GIF by The Good Place via GIPHY

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the factor that most affects your work environment as an animator is you. Ultimately, you are the one in control of your freelance business.

Having all the responsibilities - getting clients, completing projects on time, handling your finances - rest solely on your shoulders can be stressful.

As Eleanor Shellstrop in The Good Place says, “Pobody's Nerfect,” so cut yourself some slack and be kind to yourself. A work-from-home environment, despite your best efforts to control all variables, can be unpredictable. 

Your kids might run into your office while on a video conference, your dogs could start barking, or you may run into technical difficulties with your network or hardware. So, give yourself and others a break in these situations.

As a freelance animator, burnout tends to sneak up on and can negatively impact the success of your freelance animation business. However, creating a conducive animator work environment can prevent burnout and you can do this by adopting these self-care tips for freelance animators:

  • Make time for the people who matter in your life.
  • Get enough proper sleep every night.
  • Eat properly and get some regular exercise.
  • Take up a hobby to strengthen your mind and your creativity.
  • Treat yourself. You deserve it.
  • Think about your long-term goals and work towards the future.

At times you may experience loneliness, isolation, frustration, or even boredom. Creating a conducive animator work environment by adopting these methods of self-care as a freelance animator you may feel energized, motivated, relaxed, and more in control of your day. 

Or, you may feel all — or a combination of — these feelings from time to time. Keep in mind that transition takes time and you might need to survey how you’re feeling and adjust your approach until you figure out what works for you.

Why it’s Important to Create a Conducive Animator Work Environment

an animator excited to start working in a conducive animator work environment

GIF by 7y3 via Tenor

Negotiating the ins and outs of your animation business and guiding it toward triumph can be challenging, particularly taking into consideration all the balls you need to be juggling at once as a freelance animator.

That is why it is so important to be organized and create a conducive work environment as an animator. Creating an organized work environment as an animator is also crucial in terms of attracting new animation clients and effectively running your animation business.

The aforementioned factors are sure to give you an idea of what a conducive animator work environment looks like and these tips on how freelance animators can make their work environment more favorable to work should set you on the right track for your own animation business. 

These tips and tricks for creating a top-notch animator work environment will help you save time, stay organized and ensure that your freelance animation business is a lucrative one.

For more tips on how to create a conducive animator work environment, we recommend watching our free masterclass, downloading a copy of our free marketing handbook, and checking out our blog on “How to Start an Animation Studio”!

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