Toniko Pantoja productivity Toniko Pantoja productivity

In the animation industry, where working from home is generally possible, the overriding question for many throughout the pandemic is not whether they can keep working but how well. Remote set-ups are the subject of fierce debate — some see them as an opportunity, others as a threat.

Meanwhile, animator Toniko Pantoja is busy ensuring that artists can stay as productive as possible, wherever they are. In a Youtube video, the L.A.-based industry artist presents six straightforward tips on how to stay focused without stressing out:

Pantoja’s advice centers on time management and accountability. He recommends rigorous schedule calendars and advocates the Pomodoro technique, whereby he alternates between 25-minute bursts of work and five-minute breaks. (The technique was also recommended by another an earlier productivity piece we published.) Not only does this enable a healthy work ethic, it also helps artists track how fast they work — useful information when it comes to negotiating freelance work.

Accountability, for Pantoja, means simulating the effect of being in a room with colleagues (or the communal computer lab at Calarts, where he studied). The feeling of being watched is motivating. Thus Pantoja records his screen while working, knowing that he may use the footage for a video like this one, and sometimes live-streams his process to friends or even the public. He sometimes mentions his deadlines to others, so that missing them will be that much more embarrassing.

The final tip is one we can all relate to, regardless of our profession: minimizing internet browsing. Pantoja openly admits that social media distracts him easily and triggers various anxieties. He recommends turning off the internet during work hours if possible.

Since graduating from Calarts in 2014, Pantoja has worked as an animator, story artist, and director for the likes of Dreamworks, Tonko House, Cartoon Network, and Studio La Cachette. His credits include Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, How to Train Your Dragon 3, and the forthcoming feature Wish Dragon.

He is also a prolific educator. We’ve previously featured his art, his guide to creating a story portfolio, and more (see below).

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