The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck

With all the swirl and constant hubbub about Marie Kondo and her much talked about book, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, a book caught my eye as I was at Powell’s recently, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck.

Sarah Knight’s hilarious parody of Marie Kondo starts out with Knight quitting her publishing job. She finally has time to read Kondo’s book, and within hours, Knight has KonMari’ed her hubby’s sock drawer. “Life is significantly better now that we can see all of our socks,” she wrote.

But then she realized the magic wasn’t just about socks. It was about “decluttering and reorganizing your mental space by not giving a fuck” so that you focus only on things that you like (that bring joy!) and you don’t spend time on things that annoy you. She calls it the NotSorry Method (vs. the KonMari method), with two steps:

  1. Decide what you don’t give a fuck about
  2. Don’t give a fuck about those things

Her first baby steps towards not giving a fuck started with her wedding, when she decided not to give a fuck about the seating chart and to let people sit where they may. Rejoicing in the hours gained and energy unspent, she spread her “don’t give a fuck” methodology to other areas of her life, saying no to post-work drinks and unfriending annoying people on Facebook. Overall, the secret is to take care of yourself first, allow yourself to say no to things, and release yourself from guilt of saying no. The whole book is tongue-in-cheek hilarious, but also contains wise advice.

In Knight’s experience, people who don’t give a fuck fall into these three categories:

  • Children
  • Assholes
  • The Enlightened

Her book intends to help us reach the enlightened state without being jerks or throwing tantrums. She advises that we stop caring what people think, but don’t become an asshole. “Joy over annoy” is one of the phrases that stuck in my head.

She outlines several areas where you have to start giving fewer fucks: things, work, friends, and family. Like Kondo, she tackles the easiest first, and has you sweep all the things out of your mind that don’t bring you joy, like contemplating the idea of a Trump presidency. Only focus on caring about things that bring you joy.

To get us started, she gives us a sample of things she doesn’t give a fuck about:

  • having a bikini body
  • what other people think
  • basketball
  • being a morning person
  • napkin rings
  • the Olympics

Work is a trickier area, because you actually do need the money that it brings in, and hence you should give a few fucks about it. Her advice is to reduce the number of fucks you give at work, specifically around meetings and conference calls. She calls conference calls the “perfect storm of non productivity: an excuse to get absolutely nothing accomplished and waste literally everyone’s time. Whenever possible, I refuse to engage in conference calls… You can decide not to give a fuck about a conference call. NOTHING OF SUBSTANCE WILL OCCUR ON IT ANYWAY.”

What about co-workers (ugh)? Especially the ones who are constantly bragging about their children (double-ugh!)? Knight gives some top-notch advice on some responses to someone who’s blathering on about his daughter’s spelling bee trophy. You should respond, “That’s nice. My daughter is illiterate.” This way he’ll “never speak to you again. About anything,” writes Knight.

With friends, it’s even trickier. We love ‘em but we have to set boundaries. If you don’t ever want to go to that weekly pub trivia event across town you should be honest, stop giving excuses, and tell them that you aren’t interested and never will be. They won’t waste energy inviting you, and you won’t have to think up clever excuses every week.

She finishes up with family, the hardest of all. By setting up some personal policies, you can save yourself a lot of grief. For example, she has three families to visit on Thanksgiving, so it’s now her and her husband’s policy to rotate to one every year. There’s an entire section on how not to give too many fucks about weddings that is worth laughing over at length.

Essentially, not giving a fuck gains you time and energy, while saving you money.