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Work on the Weekends

Work/life balance is important, but putting in the time, especially to bone up your skills or move forward on a personal project, is critical for a successful career.

“I don’t work on the weekends.” My career coaching client’s response flummoxed me. I didn’t know how to respond. “You don’t work on the weekends?” I checked to be sure I had heard him correctly.

I wondered how this aspiring visual effects artist was going to accomplish the list of goals he had sent me. Accomplishing anything takes time and effort. During a subsequent coaching session, I pointed out that he would be competing for work with others who did work weekends.

On March 12, Motion Picture Academy voters recognized outstanding achievements in film. Those who work in the motion picture business know that hard work is the norm, the more you practice the better you get, and work is often required after hours and on the weekends to achieve excellence.

Writers and other creatives don’t stop on the weekends. If they come up with a brilliant idea for a show or a movie or book on a Saturday night or a Sunday morning, they don’t hesitate to write it down.  Musicians and comedians and dancers perform on the weekend.  How many concerts are held on Wednesday afternoon? Professional football players work on Sunday. Imagine Shakespeare at his desk. “To be or–oh, look at the time! I’ll finish this on Monday.”

When I was production manager on The Simpsons, I was proud that I was able to take time off on the weekends. My Fridays often lasted well into Saturday, but I always made it home before the sun rise on Saturday mornings. Creative people work all the time, regardless of what it says on the clock or calendar, whether completing a freelance assignment, boning up on their skill set, or working on a personal project. How often and how much you work is an indication of how dedicated you are to your art.

It is important to have a work/life balance. You need some respite so you can recharge. Take time to relax but be sure to have a sketchpad or notebook or laptop with you in case you are suddenly visited by your muse. They work weekends too.

This column was written on a Saturday afternoon.


Pamela Kleibrink Thompson was production manager on The Simpsons and manager of art at Virgin Interactive. She coaches individuals and consults with companies in creative industries.  She also recruits artists and others for visual effects, animation, and games and speaks at conferences and colleges on creative careers. Pamela thanks all her recruiting and career coaching clients for the opportunity to work with them, as well as AWN, for providing this forum to share with the animation and VFX community. She can be reached at