Lately I've been noticing how long it's been taking me to animate something relatively simple, and it's because I don't have a clear idea of what I want the character to do. I find myself always trying new things: new poses, new acting choices, new timing...when I should really be making progress and layering on top of what I already have. And while I admit that I very much enjoy this exploratory process, it's definitely not the most efficient way to work. In fact, except for some happy accidents here and there, it always proves to be a waste of time.
This also happens when I'm refining animation. I look at my shot and decide that the upper torso needs to move up faster. That's it: that's the only change I need to make. But then I start looking at my curves and wonder "maybe the hip should also be coming more this way" and "the arm should probably move slower here" and "what if the head tilts right there". Eventually, I fix the upper torso, but for one problem solved I created four more.
I like to think of animation (an art in general) as a very intuitive and spontaneous process: you keep trying new things until it just "feels right". But there are times in which I definitely need to be more intentional in my planning, more disciplined in the corrections I make and more precise in how I envision a shot.
The good thing is that I'm learning!