( ENSPIRE Feature ) With Over Nearly 15 Years Experience Working Remotely, Libryia Jones Tells Us Why It’s Here to Stay
ENSPIRE Contributor: Keegan Kerns
The COVID Pandemic has thrown life upside down for many of us, and one of the most important changes in the large-scale introductions of remote work across many industries, something Ms. Libryia Jones knows a lot about. Having worked over 15 years remotely, Ms. Libryia Jones has become the remote work queen and can speak to the benefits of consistent remote work.
While many people have initially found this period of remote work to be liberating in many ways, such as no real commute time, often fewer meetings, and sometimes a more efficient work environment, others have really felt a bit more hesitant with the changes. Alongside new and often uncoordinated technology usage, remote work can feel distant and isolating for many people. Still, with Libryia Jones’ experience, she understands these feelings don’t have to be the case. For example, you can often counter isolation by working in coffee shops or coworking spaces. While the pandemic still affects that nowadays, that feeling of isolation is often wrongfully attributed to remote work instead of the pandemic. Over the years, Ms. Libryia Jones has optimized her experience with remote work to increase her success as a businesswoman and maximize the time she could spend with her daughter. She hopes to share that balance with others.
ENSPIRE talked to Libryia Jones about her experience working from home, her thoughts on the benefits and challenges of the process, what’s unique about many people’s current remote work situations, and dispelling a lot of myths about remote work.
What led you to work from home?
Originally, I wanted to make extra money to supplement my income. As a single mom, that was challenging because I would’ve needed to spend money on childcare for my then 4-year-old daughter, who would have cut into the additional income I was making, not to mention causing me to lose time with my daughter. Working remotely part-time put me in a position where I didn’t have to choose between family and finances. I could make additional money to support myself and my daughter, all while being right at home with her.
If someone wants to get into remote work, where do you start, and what tips can you give them?
I always tell people to start by starting. So many folks don’t believe there are remote jobs in their field, that remote jobs are only for techies. I’ve been busting that myth for YEARS. So you’ve got first to believe there are remote jobs out there for you. The next thing to do is to take action. An easy place to do that is by downloading my Best Places to Find Remote Work guide, completely free!
What exactly is your daily working routine? How does it differ from someone who works in person?
A daily routine is essential to me as a remote employee. There’s a level of self-accountability required to work remotely, and a routine enables that accountability. So I wake up, meditate, write, hop on my Peloton, go to the gym, shower, and get dressed for work.
Some key things in my routine are that:
1. I take time for myself before I start giving my time to others
2. I get dressed – even though I’m working from home, the act of getting dressed helps me feel like I’m “going to work.” I don’t get dressed up, but I at least change out of my pajamas or workout clothes
3. I have a dedicated workspace – having a dedicated place to work, whether that’s a home office or a special table, allows you to “enter a space” of productivity
4. I take breaks – It’s effortless to get anchored to the desk throughout the day, so I make a point of getting up and stepping outside or going to my living room, sitting on the couch, and watching a show.
5. Set a quitting time and leave my workspace – I always say that it’s great that my home is in my office, but it’s terrible that my office is in my home. It’s easy for work to consume you in your space, especially given that no social queues indicate it’s “quitting time.” No coworkers packing up and saying goodnight, so you have to set your quitting times and honor them.
What would you say is the best part about working remotely? Challenging part?
When my daughter was younger, the best part was being home when she got home from school. It made life so much more enjoyable when I wasn’t racing a clock trying to get home from an office before after-care closed and trying to get her changed before soccer practice only to rush home to do homework, feed her, get her a bath and then get her in bed. Working from home meant no after-care; it meant she could walk into the house after school and find a home-cooked meal waiting for her; she could take her time to play and wind down from school before doing her homework and then getting ready to head to soccer practice.
The best part is just the freedom to decide where I feel most productive or where I choose to work on any given day. I believe great work can be done from anywhere, and sometimes that’s my home office, sometimes it’s my living room, or a coworking space, a friend’s house, or a coffee shop in Colombia, or heck even the office. I do pop into the office sometimes just because I like my coworkers so much!
The most challenging part of working remotely is the isolation. I’m a social extrovert, and I enjoy being around people often. Therefore, before the pandemic, I would make it a point to set up coworking days with friends or visit the office every other week. However, the pandemic really made it tough on extroverts. It was incredibly lonely, and I felt “stuck” in my home office during lockdown.
How do you manage distractions throughout the day and stay focused on your tasks?
I acknowledge that taking breaks is something that actually improves focus. Your brain can focus on tasks for up to 90 minutes; after that, it needs a break. So I work in 15 min, 30 min, or 90 min blocks and then take a “brain break.”
Also, I realize that when my mind starts to wander randomly, and I find it hard to get it back to focus, it’s likely time for a break. And by break, I don’t mean it’s time to do some online shopping. I mean, it’s time to go for a short walk, phone a friend or family member to catch up, have a snack but step away from the computer.
I’ve also gotten really good at understanding my most productive times and do my best work around the timing when I’m naturally at my best. Between 6 am – 12 pm, I’m focused; I’m great! Between 12 pm – 4 pm, it’s a struggle. It becomes imperative that I do the tasks that require deep focus in the mornings when my brain is at prime. In the afternoon, I do the mundane administrative tasks that don’t require as much focus.
Do you feel a sense of isolation since you started working remotely?
Only since the pandemic hit. Before that, no. I owned where and how I worked, and I could choose to work at a coworking space, the office, a friend’s house, or a coffee shop to address feeling lonely.
What part of your role is the most energizing, draining, and purposeful?
In my role as a social educator and Founder of Quit Commuting, what’s most energizing is opening people’s eyes to the possibilities available to them to design their work-life in a way that best suits them and their families. What’s most draining is keeping up with content creation, honestly. What’s most purposeful is when what I’ve shared is successful, and people land remote jobs they’re excited about, and that allows them to do great work from anywhere.
In my role as a program manager at Amplifi, what’s most energizing is resolving issues. As a natural mediator, I love finding the solution to a problem or the middle ground in a conflict of opinions between two parties. Of course, the most draining is the sheer number of meetings on any given day and, of course, the administrative work that comes with being a PM. However, the most purposeful is helping clients make processes easy and freeing teams/leaders to do more impactful and strategic things.
Overall, the work Libryia Jones has done and continues to do to open up the remote workspace is crucial for creating positive change in our working environments. Whether it’s her writing for WorkForce, work for Amplifi, or her position as Founder of Quit Commuting, Ms. Libriya Jones continues to set the example of how positive remote work can be and inspires more and more people to follow in her footsteps, with each one helping her accomplish her goal of enabling 10,000 moms to land remote jobs so that they too can have access to that critical work-life balance.
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