Fancy a review of “Get Your Shit Together”, Sarah Knight’s new book? Of course you do. The press release describes it as "giddily profane, immensely useful, and surprisingly powerful”. Bang-on, or bullshit?
Pull up a pew, friend, and find out how I rated it on a scale of Die Hard 1 (classic) to Die Hard 5 (utterly forgettable and downright unforgivable. You’re better than that, Bruce).
It should go without saying but expect swearing.
(This post contains Amazon affiliate links which means I may earn a teeny tiny commission if you buy through them. Thanks in advance for your support! For more info, see my 'disclosures' page.)
Most of you will remember Sarah as having penned last year’s bestselling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving A F**k” (click the title for my review). Long story short, I was a fan, so when she told me she was publishing her second book and she’d send me a copy, I stopped dancing a merry jig just long enough to stalk the postman.
(I also set aside my horror that she'd stolen my title. 😉 )
I’ll be honest, I was a little worried because I really liked the first instalment, and sequels are always tricky to pull off. So, given that the first book was going to be a hard act to follow, did she deliver on her second?
Whereas the first book was about discarding the things you no longer give a fuck about (or, as the latest press release calls it, “freeing yourself from the shackles of f*ck-giving”), this book is about organising what’s left. It’s the logical next step in the process of — as one of the sections is called — “winning at life without being an insufferable prick”. (Which, by the by, I’m totally stealing for the title of my first book.)
Basically, you’ve decided what you give a fuck about; now it’s time to follow through.
It opens with two provisos:
- “[...] this is not a traditional self-help book. It's more of a let-me-help-you-help-yourself-help book”; and
- “[...] I am going to use the word shit 332 times (including several shitmanteaus of my own invention), so please do not go on Amazon saying you were expecting sunshine and kittens and got shitstorms and shittens.”
Shittens! That’s me told!
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Thereafter, it’s divided into 4 parts:
Part 1: What we talk about when we talk about getting your shit together
This is where she introduces the core concepts of the book, and her revolutionary “Power of Negative Thinking”, where you use all your anger and annoyance about something to effect change. Perfect for me, ‘cause a positive little Pollyanna I am not. (In fact, it’s probably no coincidence that I’m almost permanently pissed off, but still one of the most productive people I know.)
It’s also where Sarah shares a little piece of her soul. She talks about her past struggle with mental health and the breakdown that led to her epiphany on life, specifically how it’s too short to be spending it giving a shit about trifling things. The confession helps you forge a stronger connection with her, and elevates this from what could conceivably be considered “just another self-help book” to something far more meaningful. She’s been there, done that, so when she starts selling t-shirts, you’re much more inclined to sit up and take notice.
And, lest things get too deep, there’s a colouring page to help you calm down, with the fitting metaphor that life’s big picture is something you fill in a bit at a time.
Part 2: Small shit: Nailing down the day-to-day to build a better future
Like everything, if you’re not laying solid foundations, it’s only a matter of time before everything comes crumbling down around you. Get the basics in place, and then build from there.
This is where Sarah talks about time management, basic budgeting, prioritising your to-do list, taming your overflowing inbox, and controlling urges and impulses through sheer willpower. Basically, it’s your bedrock.
There’s even a handy-dandy flowchart for ease of reference:
Part 3: Tough shit: Getting older, getting ahead, getting healthy, and getting better at life in general
Here, she talks about relationships, both romantic and professional (including how to extricate yourself from a bad one), how to excel at work without putting in overtime, looking after your health, taking care of your home, and rewarding yourself with some well-deserved relaxation.
Part 4: Deep shit: Mental health, existential crises, and making big life changes
This section contains one of the most accurate and sublime descriptions of anxiety I’ve ever heard. Sarah calls it “mental dust” and that people, like me, who suffer from it are “vacuuming this shit up and then inexplicably dumping the filter right back on the floor”.
Straight away, you know she just “gets it”.
There’s also discussions on fear of failure, dealing with perfectionism (she even has a 12-step programme that would be a great basis for any Perfectionists Anonymous), and taking small steps towards big dreams.
And… GYST bingo! Each square represents one way to get your shit together. Sarah’s clearly heard that “gamification" is a great way to get results, tapping into the competitive streak that runs through so many of us, as well as our inherent desire to “complete” things.
Now, those topics are all well and good, but it’s not like no-one’s ever covered them before, right? So what makes this book so special?
Well, in true Sarah Knight style, she tells you exactly how to do these things. Just like her first book had a step-by-step structure, this one has a clear system too, with 3 keys to getting your shit together. (Go read the book if you want to know what they are; this is just the review.) As is her way, she provides plenty of practical, easily-applicable advice, alongside copious real-life examples, and exactly how her system can be applied to every conceivable scenario.
This is no fly-by-Knight (see what I did there?) tryna sell you a quick fix, nor one of those doctors who prescribes painkillers without really getting to the root of the problem. Ms. Knight is more akin to a coal miner, dropping right down into the depths, shining a light into dark places, and using just enough pressure that, when she re-surfaces, it’s not coal she brings with her, it’s diamonds.
She’s taking shitty situations and showing you exactly how to make them shine.
My only real beef with this book is the occasional reliance on references to pop culture which, inevitably, mean that parts of it will not age well. The core concepts and basic premise will stay the same, but some references will be lost to the sands of time. In fact, having only been released 3 weeks ago, one part of it is already out of date:
With its content being immensely valuable (and hilariously profane), that’s a pity.
Still, there’s plenty to sink your teeth into here, and if you can’t find several pearls of wisdom you can immediately apply to your own life… well, you must be reading the wrong book.
I must confess, every time I read something of Sarah’s I die a little inside. It’s everything I would love to write myself, but she got there first. And she did a much better job than I ever could. Not only is it chock-full of practical, helpful tips and tricks, it’s also irreverently witty and just downright FUN. It’s the Swiss Army Knife of books.
There’s also some pretty sweet copper foiling on the front cover if that sorta thing floats your boat. (It does mine.)
So, where does it place on the Die Hard scale? I’m going to give it a solid Die Hard 2: Die Harder. (It’s the first movie I saw in the Die Hard franchise so it has a special place in my heart.) It’s not quite the original — because, really, what is? — but you’re still getting a whole lotta bang for your buck. A solid storyline that picks up where the last one left off, and a whole lotta swearing to boot.
Fun for all the family! … If all the family are over 18.
I said it in my review of her first book and I’ll say it again here — THIS is the shit they should be teaching in school. I don’t want to find ‘x’, I want to find my shit and gather it all together. Where’s that class on the curriculum, eh?
In the University of Life, when you’re taking ‘Adulting 101’, Sarah Knight’s books are required reading.
Unless you’re perfect and you’ve had your funny bone replaced with a steel plate, you should add “Get Your Sh*t Together” to your reading list.
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Huge congratulations to Sarah B. (UK) and Alicia C. (US) who were the winners of the giveaway.