Back to Blog Index

How to Achieve Work/Life Balance as a Busy Motion Designer

No items found.

Six Tips to Help You Avoid MoGraph Burnout

As screens pop up everywhere around us and video content is massively in demand, there has never been a better time to be a motion designer.

However, busy schedules, heavy workloads and looming deadlines can take their toll. On top of this, working conditions can be less than ideal. Animators are often at their desks all day, and freelancers especially tend to work in isolation, not knowing when the next project will come in.

So, how do you avoid serious strain on your psychological (and physical) health?


Burnout and the importance of managing your mental health have been an increasing focus in the industry, with recent articles from Adam Plouff, Karl Doran and Michael Jones covering some of these issues.

I’ve given thought to my own experiences and what has helped me when I have felt overwhelmed by work. Here, I recommend some tips and tools to help you avoid MoGraph Burnout and achieve a healthier work/life balance.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs


Meeting up online and offline with people in the industry can be a great support. Sharing your struggles and general comradery can help that feeling of burnout and loneliness.

I often pick up my phone and text an industry friend to ask if they want to have a call — to share my problems and, of course, listen to theirs too.

If we look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we can that love and belonging appear just below physiological needs and safety. Creating a sense of connection in our everyday lives is vital for our wellbeing, so this should be a priority, especially if you work on your own at home.

Blend Crew.jpg
Me (far right) at Blend Fest 2019 with (L-R) School of Motion's EJ Hassenfratz, Jake Bartlett and Brittany Wardell


One thing to remember is that, although work is important, it shouldn’t be the main focus of your life. Spending time with family and friends and taking breaks to relax are essential.

Recently, I’ve taken weekends off to visit my family; I’ve also tried monthly board game nights with friends (it's easier to organize get-togethers with friends when you base them around an activity).

Escape the Dark Castle board game

Another thing to remember is that we should all give ourselves space in our lives to make regular internal inquiries.

Ask yourself, “How am I feeling today?”

You could dedicate 10 minutes to this every morning while you relax and have your coffee.

I recommend giving meditation a try, and there are a number of free apps — including Insight Timer and Headspace — to get you started.


Getting active provided me with the most significant transformation this year.

I wasn’t someone who considered myself a sporty type and, as an artist, I’m sure you can relate; but, in January this year I took up running and, much to my surprise, I kept it up. (I spoke about how I maintained my running habit on the Motion Hatch podcast.)

great noth run.jpg
Me, looking tired, after completing my first-ever half marathon

Since recently moving to Manchester from London, I've been set up in a home office rather than a studio — and having something to get me out of my house in the morning or during the day has been vital to my physical and mental health.

If you want to start running, I recommend the Couch to 5K app.

If running isn’t your thing, no worries. Take up another active hobby, like climbing or yoga, to get you outside and talking to others.


Keeping up with the industry can be stressful. It can feel like you always need to churn out better and better work to stay relevant.

Getting an outside perspective on your current body of work can be helpful, and it can give you an idea of where you sit in the industry and whether you need to improve your skills.


While finding people to provide you with constructive feedback can be challenging, you can ask a peer, colleague or past client.

I've found that one of the best ways is to join a mastermind group: a peer support group that can give you feedback on your work and provide accountability for your goals.

If you’re interested in joining a mastermind group, check out our Mograph Mastermind Program.



Having goals that are achievable — and celebrating your wins — can help you make progress and avoid burnout. Beforehand, though, you need to make sure you’re heading in the right direction by aligning your goals with your values; otherwise, you may arrive at an unwanted destination.

For example, many motion designers aim to start their own studio one day, but may be unaware of what that entails.

You may end up having to generate sales for the business, instead of animating. Is that what you want to do every day at work? Could you hire someone else to help?

These are the critical questions we should be asking ourselves before heading toward a big goal like this — and that's where the Perfect Day Exercise comes in.


The Perfect Day exercise:

  • Asks you questions about what you want your life to look like in three years
  • Helps you create a vision for the future based on your values
  • Establishes SMART goals to help you get there

SMART is an acronymSpecific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound and testing your goals against SMART can help you make them more achievable.

Both the Perfect Day and SMART Goals exercises are free to download from the Motion Hatch website.


The final thing that has helped me with the pressures of work is getting organized. This can be done in a few ways.

The first method is ensuring a substantial scope of work and contract are in place for all jobs, ensuring the client and you are clear up front on what is required so you can avoid headaches down the line.

It also includes organizing your business. Things like bringing on a good accountant or CPA can relieve some of the financial stresses of freelance life.

The second is putting everything on your calendar, and I mean everything.

Example of how to block time out on your calendar. You would be more specific on the tasks.

I schedule in email and social media three times a day to avoid distractions, and I plan blocks of time to do work. (As I’m writing this blog post right now, there is a block of time on my calendar that says “write blog post.”)

I find that if I don’t do this I feel lost and distracted.

I encourage you to give it a try.


After re-reading Adam Plouff’s article, I feel encouraged to write my own disclaimer. These are things that have helped me over the past few years gain some more work/life balance and generally live a happier and healthier life while I build my motion design business. I’m not saying it’s a perfect formula; they're some ideas you can try in your own work and life. I hope it helps you too.

More MoGraph Advice

Need more advice from those who live it and breathe it? There's nothing more inspiring or informative than hearing from your heroes.

School of Motion's 250-page Experiment. Fail. Repeat. ebook features insights from 86 of the world's most prominent motion designers, answering key questions like:

  1. What advice do you wish you had known when you first started in motion design?
  2. What is a common mistake that new motion designers make?
  3. What’s the difference between a good motion design project and a great one?
  4. What’s the most useful tool, product or service you use that’s not obvious to motion designers?
  5. Are there any books or films that have influenced your career or mindset?
  6. In five years, what’s one thing that will be different about the industry?

Get the insider's scoop from Nick Campbell (Greyscalegorilla), Ariel Costa, Lilian Darmono, Bee Grandinetti, Jenny Ko (Buck), Andrew Kramer (Video Copilot), Raoul Marks (Antibody), Sarah Beth Morgan, Erin Sarofsky (Sarofsky), Ash Thorp (ALT Creative, Inc.), Mike Winkelmann (AKA Beeple), and others:


If you're freelancing or thinking of transitioning to a freelance career, The Freelance Manifesto by SOM Founder and CEO Joey Korenman is for you.


Split in two sections, the first half addresses in great detail what we discussed above: "the mental baggage that many artists carry around with them which can prevent them from having the career and life that they desire."

Part two is "a step-by-step instruction manual for finding and landing freelance clients."

To learn more or purchase, click here.

Dive into real-time 3D with our Unreal Engine beginner's course by Jonathan Winbush. Master importing assets, world-building, animation, and cinematic sequences to create stunning 3D renders in no time! Perfect for motion designers ready to level up.

Explore this Course

Unlock the secrets of character design in this dynamic course! Explore shape language, anatomy rules, and motifs to craft animation-ready characters. Gain drawing tips, hacks, and Procreate mastery (or any drawing app). Ideal for artists seeking to elevate their craft.

Explore this Course

Elevate your freelance motion design career with our guide to client success. Master a repeatable method for finding, contacting, and landing clients. Learn to identify prospects, nurture leads, and develop a thriving freelance philosophy amidst chaos.

Explore this Course

Rev up your editing skills with After Effects! Learn to use it for everyday needs and craft dynamic templates (Mogrts) for smarter teamwork. You'll master creating animated graphics, removing unwanted elements, tracking graphics, and making customizable templates.

Explore this Course

Stand out with Demo Reel Dash! Learn to spotlight your best work and market your unique brand of magic. By the end, you'll have a brand new demo reel and a custom campaign to showcase yourself to an audience aligned with your career goals.

Explore this Course

Illuminate your 3D skills with Lights, Camera, Render! Dive deep into advanced Cinema 4D techniques with David Ariew. Master core cinematography skills, gain valuable assets, and learn tools and best practices to create stunning work that wows clients.

Explore this Course

Master After Effects at your own pace with Jake Bartlett's beginner course. Perfect for video editors, you'll learn to create stylish animated graphics, remove unwanted elements, and track graphics into shots. By the end, you'll be equipped for everyday AE needs and more.

Explore this Course

Revolutionize your Premiere workflow with customizable AE templates! Master creating dynamic Motion Graphics Templates (Mogrts) in After Effects to speed up your team's work. By the end, you'll craft easily-customizable templates for seamless use in Premiere Pro.

Explore this Course
Your download is in your inbox!!!
Check your email (spam, too) for the download link!
Please check the spam folder if you don't see the message within a minute or two. Google likes to hide your downloads, sometimes.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

The freelancer’s guide to finding, booking, and keeping clients.

Drive your freelance motion design career to the next level with a repeatable method of finding, contacting, and landing clients. You’ll learn new ways of identifying prospects and nurturing leads, plus how to develop a freelance philosophy that keeps you thriving through chaos. See this system in action so you can implement it yourself!