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Holiday Gifts for Your Animator

Snow in the north, sunny and hot in the south? It must be time for gift giving! Here’s my 2022 indie animator gift-giving guide – this year, it’s about books!

While all animators display a formidable ability to focus on the minutest detail, many get bleary eyes with the challenges of management and organization. Damon Zahariades’ short, tight books concentrate best-in-class tools and skills from leading sources. And his “actionable guides” teach the material extremely well. Below are the titles I’ve read so far and can confidently recommend. The exercises are short, actionable, designed really well for the outcomes, and very simple to grasp. These are great gifts for the indie animator in your life.

‘To-Do List Formula: A Stress-Free Guide To Creating To-Do Lists That Work!’

This is the first Zahariades book I read. Previously my to-do lists were a random assortment of notes on stickies, napkins, corners of sketchbook pages, pretty much anywhere I could jot down a quick reminder. What changed after I read the Zahariades book? Now I categorize each task by context and importance. And structure current and long-term task lists that reflect my goals and priorities. I can honestly say I’m a lot more organized and get more done in a day now.

‘The Mental Toughness Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Facing Life's Challenges, Managing Negative Emotions, and Overcoming Adversity with Courage and Poise’

This may not seem like a management skills book because it’s about managing your inner personality rather than outside tasks and forces. Often the most difficult challenges in a project are our own responses when things wrong and expectations are unmet, or when there’s pressure, mistakes, and unjustified criticism.  Zahariades’ actionable tasks generate a deeper self-awareness and empathy to get through the tough moments with grace. This isn’t self-psychotherapy, it’s about getting to know yourself and how to best manage your already embedded, natural responses.

‘How to Make Better Decisions: 14 Smart Tactics for Curbing Your Biases, Managing Your Emotions, And Making Fearless Decisions in Every Area of Your Life!’

Being stuck between options and unable to decide often results in anxiety, FOMO, regret, and at worst freezing up and doing nothing. Zahariades looks at decision making through the lens of goals and values, and unpacks critical techniques for getting emotions aligned with known data. The result is an effective reality check which quickly allows us to identify the right decision.

‘Small Habits Revolution: 10 Steps To Transforming Your Life Through The Power Of Mini Habits!’

Successfully adopting new habits is tough. But there are tricks that work. Zahariades’ books all take into consideration both cognitive and emotional responses of the mind. In “Small Habits,” he lays out simple tactics that motivate both parts of the mind to make changes. On the cognitive side, it’s how we come to know for certain that this new habit will benefit us. On the emotional side, it’s how we generate a reward system that actually works.

“The P.R.I.M.E.R. Goal Setting Method: The Only Goal Achievement Guide You'll Ever Need!”

I read this one because goal setting was one of the actionable activities in ‘How to Make Better Decisions’ and I wanted to know more about it. In essence, the two books work together. The most significant new piece of information was learning how to do a goal autopsy, thereby turning a goal failure into a productive and significant learning moment.

‘The Time Chunking Method: A 10-Step Action Plan For Increasing Your Productivity’

I’m looking forward to reading this one next. Time chunking is a time management technique I hear about often but know little about. Zahariades presents best practices for applying it, getting the most out of breaks that separate the time chunks, and preventing burnout. It sounds like another quick learning curve to effective change.

(Full disclosure: I purchased these books myself, so this is not a paid announcement. However, the Amazon links do generate a small affiliate fee.)