A young man reading a book outside.

Are you ready to get your life back on track? Why should you start small when making big changes?

Get Your Sh*t Together delves into what it means to have your life in order. Knight provides a strategic roadmap to get there, taking a no-nonsense approach to self-improvement.

Read below for a brief Get Your Sh*t Together book overview.

Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight

You’re fully capable of living the life you want, according to Sarah Knight. In her Get Your Sh*t Together book, Knight offers a no-nonsense approach to help get your life on track, whether that’s showing up on time or uprooting your life and moving to the Caribbean (which is exactly what she did). From managing your to-do list to saving for retirement, Knight offers practical advice on how to get (and keep) your shit together. She explains that living your best life is all about having goals, breaking them down into smaller steps, and then approaching each step with strategy, focus, and commitment. 

Knight has become known as the “anti-guru” for her unconventional, irreverent approach to practical advice. Before becoming an author, she spent 15 years as a book editor in New York City, collaborating with authors like Chris Cleave, James Lee Burke, and Gillian Flynn. In 2015, she left the corporate publishing world, turned to freelance work, and relocated to the Caribbean. This life change inspired her to write The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, which is in film development with New Line Cinema (as of 2023).

The success of her first book inspired Knight to write a series of self-help books called the No F*cks Given Guides, which have over three million copies worldwide in over 30 languages. Her TEDx Talk, “The Magic of Not Giving a F*ck,” has over 10 million views, and she hosts the popular No F*cks Given podcast.

What Does It Mean to Get Your Shit Together?

According to Knight, there are two parts to having your shit together. Part one is about figuring out what you give a shit about and letting go of the rest, and part two is about organizing that shit.

Knight’s first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, is a deep dive into part one of the process—what Knight calls “mental decluttering.” She explains that every person has only a certain amount of time, energy, and money (or f*cks) to give. Mental decluttering is about figuring out what you actually care about and then discarding the rest. In short, give fewer f*cks. 

Get Your Sh*t Together explores part two of Knight’s process—organizing the shit that you do give a f*ck about to make sure you have the time, energy, and money necessary to do what you need to do and what you want to do. 

Who Needs to Get Their Shit Together?

According to Knight, not having your shit together is a state of being, not a character flaw. The likelihood is that most people need to get their shit together in some way. (We’ve all been there at some point in our life.)

She explains that not having your shit together exists on a spectrum. At one end of the spectrum, you have disorganized people who live in a state of chaos. In the middle of the spectrum, you find people who function relatively well day-to-day but never address bigger issues or long-term goals. At the other end of the spectrum, there are people who seem like they have their shit together—they’re organized, productive, and seemingly successful. However, they’re also unhappy and overwhelmed. Knight argues that no matter where you fall, you can benefit from getting your shit together in some way.

Why Should You Get Your Shit Together?

According to Knight, getting your shit together is the key to crafting your best life, one that’s dictated by your own standards and not by external expectations. She argues that effectively managing your responsibilities and tasks ensures that you can efficiently do what you need to do, which gives you the freedom and peace of mind to spend time doing what you want to do. It’s not just about ticking off items on a to-do list but about creating a life where your obligations don’t overwhelm your aspirations. According to Knight, if you have your shit together, you can live life on your own terms and shape your days so that they align with your personal values and goals.

Is It Worth It?

Knight acknowledges that change can be hard, but she also doesn’t accept that as an excuse for not changing. She encourages you to harness the power of negativity by using your discontent and frustration as motivation. She explains that the prospect of ending your current unhappiness is likely more motivating than your theoretical future happiness. Is what frustrates you worse than the work it will take to make a change? According to Knight, if you don’t want to change, then the situation probably isn’t that bad, and you should stop complaining about it.

How to Get Your Shit Together

Now that you know what it means to get your shit together and why it matters, it’s time to start doing it. In the next section, we’ll explain Knight’s four steps to getting your shit together.

Step #1: Have a Goal

Knight explains the first step in getting your shit together is to have a clear goal. You need to know what you’re trying to do before you take steps to do it. If you’re unclear about what your goals are, she suggests asking yourself two questions: 

  1. What don’t I like about my life?
  2. What is the source of the problem?

According to Knight, a goal should provide an answer to the problems outlined in questions one and two: For example, suppose your answer to the first question is “I’m always stressed about money,” and the answer to the second question is “because I’m not saving enough and I’m not careful with my spending.” A potential goal could be “to improve my financial stability by saving more and spending less.”

Knight emphasizes your goals should be focused on what you want to change about your life, and not what you think you should change or what someone else says you should change. Besides the fact that other people’s goals are much less motivating than your own, they’re also less likely to make you happy. For example, if you pursue a career in law because your parents believe it’s prestigious, but your passion lies in the arts or sciences, then their externally imposed goal is less likely to inspire you than an intrinsically motivated goal.           

Step #2: Make a Plan

According to Knight, after clarifying your goal, you should create a strategy, or a plan to achieve your goal. Making a plan is about breaking down large, daunting tasks into manageable, achievable steps and setting a timeline to complete them. She emphasizes that a proper strategy incorporates both flexibility and accountability, allowing room for adjustments while holding you responsible for progress. 

For example, if your goal is to run a marathon, your plan would include smaller steps like registering for a race, purchasing the right running gear, setting up a regular training schedule, gradually increasing your running distance, hydrating, and eating a balanced diet. Your timeline might be six months to a year, depending on your current fitness level. 

Step #3: Prioritize

After you put together a plan, you need to prioritize. Knight emphasizes that prioritization is about deciding what tasks are most important to your overall goal and giving those tasks more of your attention, energy, and time. Prioritization is a constant process of reassessment and adjustment, as tasks’ importance can change over time. Prioritizing helps you stay aligned with your ultimate goal and prevents you from getting sidetracked by less important tasks. 

In our marathon example, your initial priority might be to purchase the right running gear. But as you get closer to the race, your priorities might shift to increasing your running distance and stretching every day to avoid injury. 

Step #4: Implement the Plan

According to Knight, the last step is to implement the plan, or as she describes it, commit. This is where all your planning and prioritizing are put to the test. Implementation is about taking action, sticking to your plan, and making progress toward your goal, despite obstacles and setbacks. It’s about maintaining discipline, perseverance, and resilience, as achieving any worthwhile goal takes time and effort.

If you’re going to run a marathon, implementing the plan means following through with your training schedule, regardless of the weather conditions or your mood, pushing through the aches and fatigue to increase your running distance, and maintaining a balanced diet, even when you’re tempted to indulge. If you follow through with your plan in order of priority, you’ll see yourself crossing the finish line after 26.2 miles. 

Knight argues that if you apply these steps, you can get your shit together in every area of your life—from your email inbox to your relationships. In the next part of the guide, we’ll provide examples of how to apply Knight’s advice in different contexts.

Start Small

Sometimes dealing with little things can make you feel more in control. If you’re on the chaotic end of Knight’s not having your shit together spectrum, Knight recommends starting small—for example, with your email inbox. It’s something we all have to deal with, and a chaotic inbox is a recipe for increased stress and anxiety, not to mention missed communication and deadlines.

Get on Top of Your Inbox

According to Knight, there’s no reason to have 12,539 unread messages in your inbox. If your inbox is overwhelming, you can do something about it.

The first step is to set a goal. Knight recommends getting your inbox to zero (yes, it’s possible). 

The next step is to make a plan and break your goal down into smaller steps. To get your inbox to zero, you’ll need to delete, file, or reply to all your messages. The level of chaos in your inbox will determine how long this task will take you. Knight recommends trying to complete this task all at once to minimize the risk of getting even more emails as you try to clear out the ones you have.

Now, you need to prioritize by giving time and energy to the task. Schedule your inbox cleanout into your day. 

Finally, implement the plan. Ruthlessly delete, file, or reply until you reach your goal.

After this initial purge, Knight offers suggestions for maintaining a manageable inbox. First, she suggests you limit the number of emails you send. If you send fewer emails, you’ll receive fewer emails. One way to do this is to condense multiple emails into one: You can put questions or points of discussion in a draft email over the course of a week, then edit it for sending. Finally, she recommends being more thoughtful about the emails you do send. Keep them short and to the point. Prioritize important information, cut the fluff, and put a time frame on any requests you make. 

Get Your House in Order

Another small thing you can tackle that will have a big impact on your life is getting your shit together at home. Knight says many of us feel overwhelmed by keeping our house clean or staying on top of home improvement projects. She explains how to implement her four-step process into managing your home.

First, what’s your goal? Is it to have a pristine kitchen? Minimal clutter? As you create your goal, think about the reason behind it. Sometimes we think our home should look a certain way, but we actually don’t care. If that’s the case, let this goal go. But if your goal is important to you, then make a plan, prioritize, and implement the plan. 

If cleaning your whole home at once is overwhelming, break it down into smaller tasks—maybe you do a room a day or one type of task at a time (tidying, wiping surfaces, vacuuming, and so on) Knight recommends setting a timer for 20 minutes once a day or every couple of days and doing whatever needs to be done for those 20 minutes. She explains that a little bit every day has a big impact.

When it comes to home management, Knight encourages delegation when possible. She acknowledges that not everyone has the privilege to hire someone to fix that broken screen door or clean their house once a month, but she encourages people to delegate when they can. For example, it’s reasonable to expect that kids or roommates contribute to the work of keeping your home clean and organized.

Dream Big

Knight’s strategies can be used to get your shit together for small everyday tasks as well as for long-term planning and goals. In the next section, we’ll explain how to apply Knight’s advice in the realm of your job and your money.

Plan For The Job You Want

According to Knight, the first part of having your shit together at work is having your small shit together—that means being on time, managing your to-do list effectively, and staying ahead of your inbox (see above). 

But you also want to make sure you’re on track to have the job you want. If you haven’t found it yet, consider whether you want to advance in your current field or whether you’re looking for a career change. If you have a goal at work, then you need to ask yourself or your boss an important question: What do I need to do to get where I want to go? What you’re asking for is a plan: You are saying, “This is where I want to go, and I want to know how to get there.”

The last part of having your shit together at work is establishing healthy boundaries. Knight insists on the importance of protecting your personal time as fervently as you do your work time, creating space in your life for things outside of work that bring joy and relaxation. Remember, having your shit together is not only about working smarter and more efficiently; it’s also about creating a better-balanced, more satisfying life. Establishing a healthy work/life balance helps prevent burnout that has the potential to harm your job performance and, more importantly, your mental health.

Save for the Future

Being on top of your finances is also part of getting your shit together. Knight advises taking a hard look at your income and expenses and making a plan that suits both your current reality and future goals. In particular, Knight focuses on the value of an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) because of the benefit of compound interest. The sooner you start putting money away in an IRA, the more financial stability you’ll have later in life. Like most things worth having, Knight explains, financial stability isn’t achieved overnight, but it’s very achievable if you take disciplined, consistent steps toward your long-term financial goals.

Evaluate Your Relationships

So far getting your shit together means managing your daily responsibilities and planning ahead for long-term professional, financial, and personal goals. In the next section, we’ll focus on how you can have your shit together in your relationships.

Knight argues that as an adult, you have a choice about who you spend your time with. Just because you know someone doesn’t mean you need to give them your time or energy. She explains that in every relationship, you have three choices of how to move forward: You maintain the relationship, improve it, or end it.

How to Maintain and Improve Relationships

According to Knight, if you want to maintain or improve a relationship, you need to prioritize that relationship. This means making time for the people you care about. Make a plan to see the person, prioritize quality time with them, and then follow through on your commitment. 

But Knight also explains that prioritizing a relationship doesn’t have to mean flying halfway across the world to see someone. When it comes to relationships, a little can go a long way. Small daily kindnesses—such as a thoughtful text message or a handwritten card—can let someone know that they matter to you and often have a bigger impact than sporadic big gestures or gifts. 

If you’re in a romantic relationship that you want to maintain or improve, Knight recommends using competition to fuel goodwill. The competition, according to Knight, is about who can be the best partner. Think about what kinds of things you can do for your partner, when you can do them, and then do them as often as possible. She says that this kind of friendly competition creates a cycle of goodwill that perpetuates positivity and mutual appreciation in the relationship. 

How to End a Relationship

If you don’t want to maintain or deepen a relationship, then it’s time to end it. According to Knight, there are two ways to end a relationship that isn’t healthy or that you’re not invested in. First, she explains, you can allow a relationship to disintegrate over time by not making it a priority. Second, you can also actively end a relationship. This is harder, but sometimes necessary if the relationship has become unhealthy or is no longer satisfying.

Knight further explains that ending a relationship is like any other big goal. To complete it, you need to break it down into smaller, more manageable steps. For example, if you’re breaking up with someone you live with or ending a marriage, the first step is a hard conversation. After that, there are likely logistical steps, like how to move out of a shared space or deciding who gets the dog, but each individual step is more manageable on its own than looking at the whole picture at once.

Don’t Ignore Your Mental Health

Finally, Knight explains, sometimes the shit that you need to get on top of is internal, not external. She explains that issues like anxiety, fear of failure, and perfectionism can cause you to feel perpetually overwhelmed and out of control. Knight offers advice on how to deal with these internal challenges but emphasizes that she’s not a licensed clinician and advises people to seek professional support when necessary. 

How to Manage Anxiety

According to Knight, there are a couple ways to deal with situation-specific anxiety (besides medication):

First, address the situation directly. For example, if you’re anxious about telling your grandmother that you broke her heirloom vase, just do it and get it over with. She’ll probably still love you afterward. 

There are also situations in which Knight recommends temporarily holding off on addressing the issue. You might find that something that seems like a big deal turns out to be nothing after some reflection, so try journaling about what you’re feeling and see how you feel afterward. For example, imagine your feelings are hurt because a friend didn’t invite you to a baby shower. But, upon reflection, you acknowledge you hate baby showers, and your friend, knowing this, was likely just trying to save you from misery.

While it can be helpful to hold off on taking action, Knight emphasizes that taking time isn’t the same as avoidance. If you don’t address things that need to be addressed, they tend to get worse over time. For example, if you ignore a mounting credit card bill, the interest will keep accruing, turning a manageable debt into a financial crisis down the line. Or, if you avoid a minor health issue due to fear or discomfort, it could escalate into a serious condition over time. In these cases, avoidance doesn’t solve the problem but rather exacerbates it. 

How to Manage Fear of Failure

Fear of failure can also sometimes manifest as perfectionism, says Knight. If you’re worried about everything being perfect, you’re more likely to procrastinate or spend too much time on something. She explains that while you’re busy trying to do one thing perfectly, the other things on your to-do (and must-do) lists keep piling up. 

To address perfectionism and fear of failure, Knight recommends accepting that you aren’t perfect and that failure is possible. Knight argues that we all have limited energy, so it’s better to spend the energy we do have accomplishing our goals rather than wasting time being afraid that we won’t or that we won’t do it well enough. She adds that even if you do fail, it’s likely not the end of the world—there are very few scenarios in which your failure is a matter of life and death. 

Finally, if you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Knight explains that while the book is about how to get your own shit together, there’s no shame in asking for help, whether that be from friends or licensed professionals. Sometimes, telling someone you need help is the accountability you need to make the necessary changes.

Get Your Sh*t Together: Book Overview (Sarah Knight)

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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