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Top 7 Time Management Tips for Animators

ben marvazi 2020

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Almost all animators struggle with time management. The time within a day is limited, and you probably have a whole host of other responsibilities on your plate, outside of managing your animation work.

But knowing how to properly manage your tasks within a given time will help ensure you complete your work by deadlines and with minimal stress.

Below, we list the top 10 time management tips for animators.

1) Organize Your Schedule

Weekly planner and pen

Image by Jazmin Quaynor via Unsplash

A standard working day consists of 8 to 10 hours. Of course, your work day may be longer or shorter, depending on your workload as a freelance animator or depending on which studio, agency, business, etc. you work for. Sometimes work hours can extend to12 to 14 hours if you have a project you must finish by a specific date and time.

Whether you work part-time or as a freelance animator, schedule the days and hours when you can work on your animation projects. Make sure to stay in your studio and animate until it’s time for your meals or time for you to rest.

You can also ask yourself these questions to know how you should schedule your workday:

  1. When are you most creative? Are you an early bird or a night owl?
  2. How much sleep do you need?
  3.  When should you start working?
  4. Do you work better by having short, long, or staggered breaks?
  5. When is the best time to answer emails and meet animation clients?

As an animator, finishing projects is a priority, but gaining exposure and finding new leads through connections are equally important. So you must block off time not only to work, but also to answer emails, schedule meetings, and stay active on the platforms you use to network. For example: You could schedule working on your animation projects from early morning till late afternoon, then schedule your meetings with colleagues and clients during dinner.

Aside from just planning your work days and work hours, plan your activities for your nonwork days too. Daily planning will help you organize your tasks and stick to a schedule, so you can take care of all your responsibilities.

Make a to-do list before you sleep or in the morning before you start your work day. You can write on your planner or use your smartphone’s Notes app or other apps.

When you plan the other activities in your week aside from work, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What habits or activities can you stop doing, so you can have more time to animate?
  2. Which days of the week should you spend time with your family and your friends?
  3. Which day should you allot to house chores and errands?
  4. When is your recreation day to rejuvenate yourself and your artistic mind?

2) Learn How to Say “No”

man holding NO sign

Image via

When animating, avoid distractions like your phone, pets, your favorite celebrity’s latest tweets, Netflix (of course), etc.

Think about what distracts you personally. If you really want to get your job finished on time and maintain a balanced life, you need 100% focus and effort during work hours.

Determine the activities you may postpone and the ones that require urgency. Also consider if you can or need to rely on others for certain projects. Are there tasks you can delegate to others? Is there anything you may need help with?

3) Take One Step At a Time

man working in front of laptop

With set workdays and work hours, focus on each task one at a time. You may be tempted to jump from one task to another when you feel like it, but this won’t help you work effectively.

Going from one train of thought to another will pause your creativity. Fully concentrate on one task first before moving on to the next.

Break down your projects into small steps. You can prioritize the tasks on your to-do list by asking yourself these questions:

  • Which projects have the nearest deadlines?
  • Which tasks are the most difficult?
  • Which tasks are the easiest?

You can also set a specific amount of time to identify issues with your animation such as timing, overlaps, spacing, character animation, etc. and specify the frames with the issues. This will prevent you from wasting time while trying to remember which frames to work on.

4) Move On to Another Task

There will be moments in your animation process when you won’t be able to solve an issue after multiple attempts.

For example: If you’ve been working on a specific shot for almost an hour, and you’re getting frustrated because you’re not making any progress, then drop that task. Stop working on it, and start fresh with another task.

There is always something else to work on. Perhaps, refine hand poses and facial expressions instead. Come back to the task that you were stuck on later with a clear mind. This will ultimately save you time and will allow you to accomplish more things on your to-do list.

5) No All-Nighters, or All-Dayers (If You’re a Night Owl) 

woman sleeping in bed

Image by Gregory Pappas via Unsplash

As children, our parents and teachers taught us how to take care of ourselves. These habits shouldn’t change now that we’re working.

Take a short power nap when you feel really sleepy, and eat a snack when you get hungry while working during the day.

If you have important animation projects due soon, you need to work at your very best, so you must maintain your rest and sleep schedule. Focus on work, but don’t sacrifice your rest.

Say “no” to happy hour invitations and weekend getaways. You will always have a chance to hang out with your friends or go to a party, but it’s not every week that you can get a big animation project. Forgoing some social activities on your workdays will make you feel well-rested.

6) Take Breaks Regularly

woman stretching in a park

Image by Matthew LeJune via Unsplash

If you’re the type of person who gets hungry between mealtimes, make sure you have snacks around while you work.

Sometimes you may lose track of time when you’re fully absorbed in an animation project. Ignoring your appetite isn’t healthy, and your hunger pangs can become a distraction to buy snacks from a store or go to your kitchen in the middle of working. Keeping snacks nearby will make sure you nourish your body, provide yourself with necessary energy, and will make sure you stay focused.

When it’s time for you to have your meals, drop everything you’re doing and take a break. Walk away from your work area and enjoy your food. Taking this space from your work will help keep you positive, give you new ideas, and help you stay productive when you get back to your animation work.

Take stretch breaks. Stretch breaks improve your flexibility, leave you feeling refreshed, increase productivity, and improve your posture. You can also take deep breaths, zone out, or take a walk.

7) Don’t Work On Your Bed

man working from home

Image by Bench Accounting via Unsplash

In a world of work from home jobs, it’s very easy to bring your animation projects to bed with you. But it isn’t healthy to work in places your body associates with relaxation, and working on your bed can make you feel sleepy and distracted.

Working at a desk with a chair is best. You can also decorate your space with motivational quotes, inspiring artworks, and plants to help keep you creative. If you’re working from home, assign a room or area of your home to be your work spot, so your home will still feel like a home and not just your workplace.

Putting It All Together

Time, if not used properly, can mess up not just our careers, but even other areas of our lives. Every animator has to develop good time management and healthy work habits to grow and succeed in the animation industry.

By following these time management tips, you can maximize your working hours, maintain an organized work process, and rest with a sense of achievement.

For more tips and hacks about animation and its business side, get your own copy of our marketing handbook and sign up for our free masterclass.

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