Profanity-laced self-help book dishes out practical advice

While researching books about living a minimalist lifestyle, one book kept popping up in my search, but not for the reason I was expecting.

Minimalists swear by Marie Kondo and the folding style mentioned in her bestselling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” But “anti-guru” Sarah Knight offers a more profane approach with her parody, “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck.” While the “KonMarie” method focuses on decluttering your home, Knight’s book introduces readers to the magic of mental decluttering by encouraging readers “to stop spending time you don’t have with people you don’t like doing things you don’t want to do.”

Once you get past the excessive use of the F-word throughout the book, Knight provides great advice for Gen-Xers. She shares the power of negative thinking, encourages readers to budget the things they they want and need to give, and provides tools for keeping it together with ways to balance work and fun, save money, manage anxiety and conquer your fear of failure.

Knight uses her personal experiences to prove her point. She left her successful job as a book editor at a major publishing house to create a freelance life in the Dominican Republic. (Her TEDx talk about this has been viewed more than 265,000 times.)

This book was written when Knight neared 40, so older adults may not find her advice useful because they have already come to these conclusions. But for those who are slightly younger, this book will help you realize where your time, money and energy is being spent.

In Knight’s Introduction, she describes the two steps in the “NotSorry” method: Deciding what you don’t care about and not caring about those things. Of course, that is easier said than done. Her basis for not devoting the time and energy stems from anxiety issues related to her job and commitments, so she needed to take care of herself first.

She has four categories of stuff you should care about: Things; Work; Friends, Acquaintances and Strangers; and Family. This is the order she encourages people to start with, since Things are “inanimate and can’t talk back” and she knows that Family can be a minefield for some. By working through the categories, readers will identify what annoys them and what brings them joy. She even provides worksheets to write it all down.

When it comes to Friends, Acquaintances, and Strangers, her advice is to set boundaries and be honest about those boundaries. When a coworker asks Knight to pub trivia, rather than coming up with excuses, she politely explains her feelings on the subject and doesn’t apologize for them: the NotSorry Method.

She chose instead to focus on Time, Energy, and Money and created a helpful Venn Diagram — with an accompanying flow chart that went viral on social media — to help people determine where their priorities lie. She stresses that fitting in and “presenting a facade of interest, enthusiasm, and conformity to the rest of the world” is not acceptable to her. She would rather empower people to feel free to be themselves and live their best lives. And really, isn’t that something to which we all should aspire?

While she doesn’t offer medical advice for mental health issues — this is a parody book, after all — she does believe that the simple act of deciding what is important to you will provide an overall improvement to your physical and emotional health. Because of the mental “budget” created, you will find maybe you don’t need quite so many things in your life to begin with, all of which will allow you to take better care of yourself, physically and emotionally.

If you are ready for expert-level mental decluttering, Knight’s follow-up book, “Get Your Sh*T Together: How to Stop Worrying About What You Should Do So You Can Finish What You Need to Do and Start Doing What You Want to Do” will help you become the Tony Danza of your mind (Who’s the boss? You’re the boss!).

So, go ahead, take that personal day to spend time finding the magic to change your life; you can thank me later.

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