Monday, January 9, 2012

The Importance of Time Management

As an alumnus of Animation Mentor, I remember that my biggest question as a new student was, "how much time will I actually need to put in to be successful?" The one statement I read that stood out to me before I started school was something along the lines of, "kiss your family goodbye, forget about your friends, because you'll need to put 100% of your free time into Animation Mentor." I was determined not be one of those people. I find I need variety in life. To me, people who eat, breathe, sleep, and think about nothing else other than animation are, well, boring.

Obviously the answer is different for every student, but this is how I ended up handling it.

When I started classes at Animation Mentor, I was working full time, and my wife and I just had our first baby. Those two alone took up most of my time. However, I found that if I kept a pretty tight schedule and stuck to it, I was more efficient in getting my school work done while finding time during the week for myself to unwind. I also found that by managing my time better I focused on my tasks more, and I avoided burnout by MAKING TIME to do nothing and get away from the computer.

My schedule looked something like this: during the week, I'd go to work from 9 am to 6 pm. This part was a no brainer. I'd come home, and eat dinner with my family. Once we put our son to bed around 8 pm, I would head into my office and work until about 11:30 or 12 am (however, I never missed an episode of LOST). On Saturdays, I would spend my mornings working on my assignment trying to get as much done as I could, with my afternoons free to be with my family or hang out with my friends. Sunday mornings were for any last minute fixes, then I would get away from the computer for the rest of the day.

I never pulled all-nighters and have tried to hold true to this when I started working at Blue Sky. I find after a certain point, my productivity goes down if I'm over tired and that can actually lead to me making poor decisions while animating. So while attending Animation Mentor, by going to bed at a relatively normal time I found that I could get more done in the morning than in the hours after 1 am.

And what do you do with the free time you carve out for yourself? Go EXPERIENCE LIFE! How can an animator bring characters to life if they're chained to their computer and don't live one for themselves?

Guest Blogger Richard Fournier


Tom Giles said...

This is refreshing to hear. Awesome post! Loved that you expressed your commitment to LOST.

Gonzalo Janer said...

Great advice. Thanks Rich!

Saisha's Kitchen said...

really great to hear that....really its a fact....better time managed better the output

Adarsh Girish said...

Great article. Time management is an important skill professional artists should master as early as possible.

As for finding time for things other than animation I woul like to mention a quote by director Brad Bird
"Animation is creating the illusion of life. You can't create it if you don't have one"

John J Yepes said...

By far the best piece of advice i´ve ever read on this blog, we all love animation, right?..but we also need to be in love with life, and experience it..there´s got to be time for everything we wish to enjoy!

Peter Saumur said...

@Richard Did you animate before you started AM? Found that as someone that never animated before, I was putting in 8-12 hour days just to break even at AM and not be late on my assignments. I imagine if you were already a professional animator, before, AM might be less intensive time-wise(ie: get more done in less time).

Jeca Martinez said...

great article! I'm currently a Multimedia Arts student and feel as if my life is a whirlwind of projects and deadlines. Thanks for this!

Nikhita P. said...

You give me hope! lol. Feels good to hear all of this!

Unknown said...

@Stray, I did work in games first, at that point I was self taught, and had very little grasp on the principals. Basically, the technical aspect of Maya was not a problem, but performance and acting was completely new to me.

However, there is an animator here with me at Blue Sky who had ZERO experience before AM. We started class 1 together, and he had not set a key before class 1, and also worked a full-time job.

Anything is possible, and everyone learns at different rates. So if it doesn't happen as fast for someone, it's ok! Just keep plugging away.

Keen Foong said...

Burnout is a huge problem for me... what do you mean you took time to do nothing though? Does that mean going out for a walk or sitting on the couch staring into space hahah

Ayman Akoshali said...

great article , thanks a lot Rich ..

Sheena @ AM said...

I totally agree! I think that it is true in any field.

Jérôme SARAVAS said...

I´m just unable to stay focused on an animation as I can be on modeling, texturing, or rigging as I used to do. Animation really need energy. And you get this energy by living a good life!

Tim said...

So trying not to pull all nighters once working as an animator is honestly not that comforting. Not pulling them while in school for only 18 months is one thing, but I really dont know how I feel about overworking with a family at home for my career....

Unknown said...

"but I really dont know how I feel about overworking with a family at home for my career...."

This applies to my professional work as well. Yes, there are times we all have to do OT, but I swore that my family comes first, and I have been able to stay the course.

In fact, there are MANY animators here at Blue Sky who have families. Managing your time doesn't just apply to school.

Also, if you find yourself with a company that demands so much of your time that your family life suffers, is it really worth it?


Tim said...

I hear ya Rich, but then again.. when I watch documentaries on Pixar, or any 2D animation studio doing work, seems like they have no lives. I am so on the fence. I am ready to sign up for AM but at the same time, I dont want to miss out on my kids!

Nick Matias said...

Thanks for this advice Rich, really puts things into perspective. Great post!

Unknown said...

@Tim - My friends at Pixar have lives too.

LauraTheSull said...

this is pretty similar to how i break it up, unless i am out of town for a weekend- that can lead to some intense make-up work sessions. i also take the time between sunday-monday before i get my critique to do my own thing far away from the computer. it is kind of frustrating though, because sometimes i just want to dive in and do all these fun projects, but i like to live my Real Life too, and i know i need the breaks.

Tam said...

I was always convinced that the people who worked all night were not hard workers but just people who don't know how to manage their time, and can't focus on an assignment (most of the time). I think that when you are organized and when you can focus on just one thing, you'll spend efficiently time and then, it won't take all day long to do the work, though. Very interesting post, 4 hrs a day for animation mentor, wich means, let's say 30hrs/week, it's kind of correct! :) (I am very tempted to apply, but just can't for the moment >_<)

Juan Felix said...

Good to hear it can still be done with a busy life. Great article!

Randize said...

Great post! I especially find it hard to manage my time in finding reference, could easily get off the border.

So I found this blog collecting all sorts of funny animations. If I need to get hold of the feel, getting into the mood or before I begin drafting out the acts, I'd go to

Thanks for the post again!

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