How to work from home like a boss

Due to recent worldwide pandemic a lot of countries have been advised to work from home. So whatever the reason I guess if you are looking up how to work from home it probably means you are struggling with suddenly being at home all day with no one to really watch you or motivate you.

Here’s my tips on how to work from home like a boss:

Tip 1) You are being watched

Firstly if you are working from home you are probably using a work device or connecting to a work network. REMEMBER THIS. Don’t look at or search anything you wouldn’t want your boss seeing. Assume that everything you are doing is being monitored. This may sound paranoid but if you’re working from home your company has more reason to want to make sure you’re being productive and could be checking up on you.

Tip 2) Pretend you aren’t at home

Pots need doing? Floor needs hoovering? Living room looking a bit un-tidy? What would you do normally about these problems? Nothing. Because you would normally be at work and wouldn’t see these things need doing until you get home. Confine yourself to your work area and don’t go looking for jobs around the house. I limit myself to doing house chores on my lunchtime only but that brings me to my next point.

Tip 3) Avoid people not the sun

This doesn’t work if you are ill or quarantined obviously but if you are social distancing or avoiding people still go outside. Go for a walk. I myself have started popping to the shop everyday (not to panic buy) but to get a few bits and walk around.

Tip 4) Remain accessible to your colleagues

At work we aren’t allowed to have headphones in to listen to music when we work so you can bet what I did the second I started working from home. However I still need to be accessible. Put your phone on loud, put your computer sound alerts on, don’t deafen yourself with headphones and don’t leave your desk for long amounts of time. If you get a call you want to be in a position to turn anything you have on off as quickly as possible which doesn’t work if you’re lounging on the sofa and lost the remote and your manager is calling. Be smart about how you use your other devices whilst working.

Tip 5) Use your phone like you would at work

So this depends on your company and maybe I am just paranoid but it’s not gonna be a good look if people see me tweeting or replying to group messages when I am supposed to be at work. This is similar to the above tip but don’t get caught posting a story or photos or commenting on anything within work hours.

Tip 6) Speak rather than type

It is quite isolating working from home. No more being able to have a laugh or ask questions when you need it. So my best advice would be instead of typing something to a colleague give them a call instead. Even if it’s for something only small, you just wanna check something or have a quick question. My manager checks in with me twice a day to make sure I am still sane over Skype and it really does help.

Tip 7) Turn your location on

This is a joke but also true. Try to let people know when you are at lunch or finishing work for the day etc. They can no longer glance at your desk to see if you are there or not so updating your movements can be really helpful.

Please keep in mind I am a childless, 20 something who is lucky enough to have my own office room and I live with my boyfriend who is out at work most days, so these tips might not accurately apply to your own working from home experience.

Spoiler Mini Review: House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City) by Sarah J. Maas

DISCLAIMER: Do not read if you have not read Crescent City or you will potentially be spoiled by the following.

Unfortunately reader SJM seems to be unable to write women that aren’t sassy and sexy and will always write her men to be tragically misunderstood “villains”.

If her writing wasn’t so addictingly easy to read I would probably have given up on this book for being too repetitive. But I guess if you love all things Maas you will love this book too.

A stand out moment for me was the Danika death plot twist which I absolutely loved the until a few pages later when it was ruined by reverting back to the culprit I had guessed waaaay before. Danika and Bryce’s friendship gave this book an emotional depth it would have been completely lacking if it was left to just Bryce and Hunt’s romance (honestly if you have read any SJM you know how this romance goes down). So the mystery of her death and learning more about Danika as a character was probably my favourite part of the book.

As for this being “adult” fantasy it for me offered nothing more adult than her “YA” titles apart from possibly more complex world building? Which to be honest was too info dumpy to be that enjoyable. I would have preferred to have at least have had a world map if you are going to discuss so many different places and not just a map of the city.

This book culminated in the typical showdown SJM is known for. Main character has more power than anyone thought possible, Male looks on at impressive female and truly understands her “soul” but also that she is badass. Male character seemingly sacrifices himself for female. Main evil person monologues the entire plot I just spent hours reading. It’s hard to not get caught up in it all but after about 30 mins of reading at a rapid pace you kinda start thinking “okay and is this the end now?”

One thing I cannot forgive Maas for is presenting a mystery to be solved but making it so the MCs have access to information we never see them get. Whole chunks of the plot in this book relies on scenes and actions of characters we never get to see or even suspect happened.

This book in the end was junk food that I couldn’t help devouring.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Why I love negative reviews

Negative reviews are absolutely for the reader and no one else. This is a hill most people would happily die on.

I have seen many arguments about negative reviews in my years of blogging and it usually ends up coming down to who reviews are for and if authors should know about them.

It’s quite easy to start reviewing books and thinking the author needs to know your thoughts or how will they improve their writing next time, right?

Wrong.

Some authors hate any sort of criticism even if the rest of the review is glowing, some authors think anything under five star is crap and most can agree they don’t like to be tagged as they can’t respond/do anything about the criticism being offered.

After all the book is published now, they can’t go back and edit it.

This entire argument is nuanced and there’s been bad behaviour by both authors and readers alike so my advice is simply this: Don’t stop writing negative reviews, just stop making authors aware of them.

So while I enjoy negative reviews immensely I have learned that my reviews are for me and you and no one else.

My reasons for loving negative reviews are:

They are very often hilarious

Most of the reviews I read that genuinely make me laugh out loud are negative reviews. Nothing gets people inspired like a book they hated. I’ve genuinely laughed at negative reviews for books I thought were amazing. Just because I love something doesn’t mean I can’t see it’s flaws. A perfect example of this is Readwithcindy’s reviews on ACOTAR, which had me crying actual tears despite the fact I really like that series.

What you hate I might love

A review that says everything is amazing is great for the author but doesn’t really help me discern if I will like that book. I usually know better what I won’t like than what I will like. So if someone writes an essay-like rant on a book series that they felt had too much fan service, that tells me that I probably won’t enjoy the book either. As I hate when a book series ends up playing up to the fans and loses itself.

Negative reviews can inspire new readers

Negative reviews can have the opposite effect and inspire people to pick up a book rather than put it down. I am very much a “I would rather see for myself kind of person” and I am not usually put off by negative reviews unless they mention specific tropes or themes I don’t like. EVEN THEN I might read it for the hell of it.

I think negative reviews in general appeal to a certain type of reader. I myself don’t generally read reviews until after I have already read the book. I am usually just looking to see if anyone else has the same opinion as me.

How to Bookstagram: Your questions answered.

To be honest I don’t get a lot of questions about my bookstagram. I have a reasonably well-grown account and I’ve been lucky enough to use my account to grow my own small business. I wouldn’t say I am well-known within the bookish world by any means but I wanted to do a Q+A to share how I got started. So I did ask you guys for questions and some of you did respond so here goes:

How did you grow your bookstagram? Did you start off slow or did it gain quicker than expected?

Growing my bookstagram definitely started off slow. I started in August 2017 and I had 900 followers by January 2018. After that my followers started to shoot up when I was invited into a Bookstagram pod group. They are quite popular on bookstagram as a way of beating the algorithm. My account definitely benefited from having 10 people comment on my posts daily and it also helped me as I was commenting on their posts everyday.

Now I know that interaction is key to growing an account and you definitely need people to be engaging with your content just as much as you need to be taking the time to comment on other people’s posts.

The bookstagram group I joined was actually how I met one of my bookstagram besties Sammy! and still exists today.

How did you find your theme? And what inspired you to have it as it is now?

So I’ve always used a vintage paper background from my scrapbooking days as a backdrop in my photos. I discovered I was better at flat lays than any other kind of photo and using potpourri as a prop happened when I saw other people using dried flowers and I got confused.

These three basic elements have inspired nearly every photo I have done since. I have gone through many different phases on my bookstagram but I would say my potpourri art pictures have been some of my most popular posts.

I love using bright colours and colour matching so I stuck with the rainbow of potpourri for a long while until I decided to change it a few months ago.

I’ve always admired to the out of focus, creamy, simple yet sometimes extravagant posts I see on some of my favourite accounts and so I decided to use less rainbow potpourri and more natural looking elements. My inspiration for this was out of a desire to make my photographs simpler to take. The potpourri artwork was lovely but the clean up was horrendous and time consuming.

What are some ways to gain a loyal following?

I think a loyal following can be quite hard and I am not even sure I’ve managed it myself. I can go months without really engaging with my followers at all despite posting everyday and this doesn’t help to build relationships. I do see some people taking the time to post and comment on my stuff, and I have my book friends who will DM me but I am not nearly as engaged as I would like to be.

So I guess being someone who takes the time to reply, takes the time to go onto other people’s profiles, like their pictures, replies to stories and responds to DMs. That is how you will get a loyal following.

What do you think attracts others to your profile?

Haha I honestly wish I knew as I would definitely focus on that. I am just myself. I can be ranty and opinionated, or be sharing personal stuff, sometimes I’m posting a new design or I’m shouting about an amazing event I went to.

I guess that just clicks with some people.

Her Bookshelf Challenge: February 2020

I thought it would be fun to start a monthly bookshelf challenge focused on reading the books I actually have sat on my shelves than on new releases. So if you are looking to tackle your tbr take a look.

All challenges are bookish/pop culture/fandom related which you will probably enjoy if you have the same sense of humour as me.

I watched the first season: A book series you abandoned after the first book.

I’ve already started this as I read the first book in the Mistborn trilogy last January and now I’m reading the second book The Well of Ascension.

A nice murder that will cheer you up: Read a murder mystery novel

I’ve been meaning for ages to read my Deanna Raybourn book as I love her other series.

A court of definitely not ya and please shelve properly: A book that is often classed as YA but isn’t.

For me this will be The City of Brass by S.A Chakraborty which I often see in the young adult section.

I’m just here for the pretty cover: Read a book by an author you’ve never read despite owning lots of their books.

I am going to read a book by Mark Lawrence as I own 8 of his books despite never reading anything he’s ever written. My choice for this challenge is The Girl and the Stars.

Let me know if you are participating below and what books you would read for each challenge.

Blog post ideas for book bloggers who don’t have time to read a lot

This year I set myself the task of blogging once a week.

Simple right?

Well not quite because book blogging becomes difficult when you aren’t reading enough to make new content every week and it’s even more difficult when you haven’t been able to read much the past year.

So how do you talk about books when you don’t have time to read lots of books?

Here’s some ideas to get you started.

Opinion Pieces

I’m going to kick straight off with the controversial one but we all have opinions so why not share them? The book world is never short of drama that you can offer your perspective on as evidenced by my blog here, here and here.

How to guides

I don’t know about you but I usually search the Internet because I’m looking for a solution to a problem. For example right now I’m looking for any content I can find on how to be successful on my latest venture: Pinterest. Being able to offer helpful information will always make your blog valuable. This can be on photography, content writing, best cameras for booktube, how to edit videos, how to organise your blogging activities and so much more.

Book events

I have blogged about attending VoyagerCon, YALC, Jay Kristoff signing in London and seeing Leigh Bardugo. I love doing these posts as they act almost as diary entries whilst also giving people who didn’t attend an idea of what the event was like. For these posts I’ve found it’s particularly important to remember the authors answers to any questions and any anecdotes. This is the information that will set your blog post apart and I’m guilty of not remembering enough of what authors said later!

Lists

Lists makes content easily consumable and you can pretty much make lists for anything remotely bookish. I’ve done lists for my favourite covers and book haulsto name a few. You could do lists for anything; favourite reading spots, favourite bookish merch shops, most disappointing reads, most anticipated releases, favourite ways to procrastinate reading. Thinking about your blog posts in terms of ordered lists will really help you come up with new ideas.

And if all else fails..

Ask the audience

I do this a lot recently because it’s always good to know why people read your blog and what content makes people click.

Let me know your favourite blog posts to write that aren’t focused on reviews below.

Spoiler Mini Review: The Sisters Grimm by Menna Van Praag

Disclaimer: As the title suggests this review is full of spoilers. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is a dark and vague sort of read with lots of whimsical descriptions and flowery prose. In the beginning it took me a while to get the four POVs straight but after a while you get to know each character’s own voice.

This book follows four “sisters” who were all born on the exact same day and have the ability to enter a magical place called Everwhere.

Each sister has forgotten about Everwhere and the power they have, believing Everwhere to be a childish dream they had. It’s explained in the book why but the whole plot is a countdown to the day all four sisters will be allowed back into Everwhere – the night of their 18th birthday.

I really struggled to get through this book after a while particularly because the ending was obvious. I liked reading about each characters lives and struggles but I felt the ending kind of aborted their individual storylines in the real world.

For those that like it, there is a romance in the book but it’s the sort of romance that excuses the murdering of a parent by said lover. If that’s your thing you will love it until the ending.

I dropped a few stars for the predictable ending. I guessed which sister would die and that each sister had a soldier in their life that would try to kill them at the end of the book.

This book is perfect for fans of Dark Fairytales, The Hazel Wood, Alice in Wonderland, female heroines and forbidden romance.

Rating 3/5 stars