Animation Mentor has been teaching animation online for 15 years (we’re older than the 1st YouTube video!) so we’re pros at working and connecting virtually.
Given that so many people are shifting to working and studying from home, we thought we would ask our experienced students and alumni for their best telecommuting tips. After all, they’re on our virtual campus every day!
Here are the Animation Mentor Community’s top tips, including how to be productive at home and making sure to schedule your time efficiently.
1. Quick tips to get you started.
Save early, save often, save multiple versions.
– Daniel Stewart, Feature Animation Acting & Polish
Two opposite but equally important parts: (1) focus on getting work done and (2) take breaks. Find a rhythm that works for you.
– Ben Boyle, Alumni
Set mini goals you know you can accomplish, that way you can cross them out at the end of the day and feel you’ve done something.
– Cinthia Mussi, Alumni
If you have a class session online, but you don’t know how to use the app or access the session, look into it before class time, don’t figure it out during class. This applies to due dates as well.
– Justin Kingston, Intro to 3D Modeling
2. Create a designated work space.
I think it’s important to treat a home work-space like a real work-space. It’s tempting to want to stay in bed in your PJs with Netflix on in the background, but having a designated spot like a desk or a spare room that you use specifically for work will make you more productive and help you maintain a mental work/home separation.
– Sarah Maier, Creature Animation: Locomotion
Get organized as if you were at your regular place of work, with a suitable space that allows concentration (ideally isolated from the hustle and bustle of the house).
– Christelle Rouchaville, Feature Animation Acting & Polish
Having a dedicated space for work and having a dedicated space for play so you can get in the zone of getting things done without being distracted too much by the comforts of home!
– Natalya, Animation Basics
And this genius life hack:
Sometimes the cats get in the way, so I put alternative sleeping spaces around the computer for them to lay on instead.
– Rebecca Stansell, Alumni
3. Get dressed in the morning.
Don’t wear pajamas! Working from home may be comfy, but it should be treated just like going to work normally. Have a schedule and get dressed and ready like any other work day.
– Zachary Grigg, Game Animation Fundamentals
Get dressed as if you were going out to school. What you wear/how you present yourself will affect your mindset towards work.
– Tyron Rijavec, Advanced Body Mechanics
4. Schedule your time to help you stay on track.
Before you start, make sure you have a to-do list for the day. Without one, it’s easy to get distracted with smaller/easier tasks that are low priority.
– Liz King, Advanced Acting
Even though you’re now on a self-paced schedule, try your best to make a schedule for yourself. It’s a lot easier said than done. Give designated times during the day to eat, break and work. And don’t get down on yourself if you feel like you’re not completing enough during the day. Set small goals, i.e. taking notes for the week and brainstorming your shot one day, then start planning (shooting reference, thumbnails) the next!
– Kirsten Terry, Advanced Body Mechanics
I believe keeping to a schedule is the most important thing for consistency. If you cannot separate work time from play time due to situations out of your control (young kids you need to watch, or pets that insist on being around you, etc.) then just try your best to carve out smaller sections of time, and really plan out what you want to accomplish during those periods. Be specific. If you give yourself those tiny goals, then slowly you can begin to achieve results.
– Cherise Higashi, Alumni
Keep a tight schedule, like you’ll do at school or office. Wake up early, work, and keep the evening for yourself.
– Cyrille Ferry, Alumni
5. Take breaks!
Know when to stop working and take a break. Water and stretch breaks are necessary! They can refresh your eyes, too. Keep track of the time you’ve been working and take routine breaks to stand up and walk around, eat, and drink. Don’t work when you’re tired, sleep is important too.
– Kaylee Lim, Intro to Acting
Your productive time will change. You’re going to feel less productive, but it’s a matter of time and finding the motivation everyday. Feel free to dedicate your breaks to something that you really love to do—read a book, do exercises, listen to music—so you can boost your productivity constantly and help your brain disconnect from work for a bit!
– Silvia Panicali, Cartoony Animation for 3D Animators
The most difficult thing is having a break longer than I intended. I tried to have a timer for my break to remind me to go back to work.
– Aelly Liu, Advanced Body Mechanics
6. Limit your time on social media.
Overcoming social media has been a challenge. Everyone is free and suddenly online now. I try to keep my sleep schedule normal and try to separate the work and social media.
– Dhvanee Mittu, Body Mechanics
Staying off social media is quite hard for me, so I log off from all sites from my PC and keep my phone and tablet at a distance.
– Constantinos Syrimis, Creature Animation: Locomotion
Remove all your games from your desktop. Hide Steam, Epic, GoG, Origin and anything else—don’t let any of those launch at start up. Make it inconvenient for yourself to play video games. Same for browsers, take any social media off of favorites, block them and have a friend put the password on them if you need to. Make it as much of a hassle to access these things as possible for yourself so that, if nothing else, you’ll have a few extra clicks that you have to think about priorities.
– Elijah Shaw, Advanced Acting
Thank you to our students and alumni for sharing their advice with us! We hope these tips help you as you navigate the landscape of remote work and study.
Start your animation journey today by learning from animators at studios like Pixar, Blue Sky, and ILM! Get more information about Animation Mentor’s Character Animation Program.