Who does 3-D animation? I think most animators do unless there is some traditional work out there that pays. 3-D brings many challenges and like most you have noticed that you spend a lot more time trying to battle the 3-D program than being in sync with it, a couple of problems that can be fixed that won't need to take up all your time and save you from arguing with a computer screen:
1. Have you noticed that you have to think in a 3-D space? is it annoying to change your angle to another view and find your character way off balance? (unless he/she is dying or drunk , humans are balanced) If you create a pole to go straight through your character to measure the center of gravity and turn the character mesh transparent you should see what the center gravity looks like.
2. There is some reasonable free rigs out there but they do have things that you always have to correct before animating with them, they might take you hours or days to fiddle around until you have a rig that you can actually play with, tip save before going off into the animation and then when you finish that piece of animation then you can just come back to the one that you have fixed already instead of having to fix it again. Sometimes if the scene will be one of the "make or break" scene for your showreel you could go to extra effort and buy a "nice" rig just so you can treat yourself and focus on the animation and not on your rig's ability to gimbal lock every 5 seconds.
3.Fix up your preferences first or while you're half way through the animation you realise that a. your tangents are not in flat or stepped or b. you are playblasting every frame not just the right frame speed for your animation...there is a few more things that I could add but you get the picture but of the mistakes above can cost you time and effort not things that you should take lightly.
Thanks for reading this and do buy Cheating for Maya or Max, worth every dollar and you can pick them up secondhand on Amazon. 'Til next time :)