Get productive and change your life with Filipa from Deixa Ser

Hi all! This month of April is coming to an end so so fast! I admit my productivity goals are not up there in the way I thought originally but well, one’s gotta cope with what one has. That will come into the next post 😉

For this month’s interview, I contacted someone that has a lot to teach in that regard! Let’s get to know Filipa Maia, a Portuguese Chemical Engineer turned into a Content Marketer and Business Consultant and who started her own business in these areas! Her blog, Deixa Ser (literally translates to “Let it Be” in English) is full of inspiration on life change, productivity and ho to go after your goals! If you are looking into making a career transition from STEM to a more writing and marketing based one, she’s the right person to ask 😉 let’s hear from her now.

1 – Tell us about your academic and career background

I have an integrated masters on Chemical Engineering from the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP), Portugal. I actually did my masters research project in the US, at University of Maryland – Balimore County (UMBC), which was an unforgettable experience. I had loved the idea of going to the States for years and while living there I completely fell in love with the country. After finishing my masters, I immediately started my PhD in Chemical and Biological Engineering, back at FEUP, in the area of Thermodynamics. My project was on the use of ionic liquids for the extraction of proteins. During my PhD, I did three periods (of 1 to 3 months) in Denmark, at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), where I worked on the equation of state modeling part of my project. I also had the chance to teach Thermodynamics classes at FEUP as a Teaching Assistant in the final two years of my PhD. Right after finishing my PhD, I moved to Lisbon, where I started working as a pharmaceutical development scientist at a portuguese Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO). It was my dream job and I loved the company and the people I was working with. After 4 years I was a senior scientist and my career was going great, but I decided to completely change directions because I realized I needed more freedom and more space for creative endeavors. I am now finishing a post-grad degree in Branding and Content Marketing and I am working as a freelancer within the digital marketing and online business area.

🇺🇸 How many limiting beliefs do we all have, which control our lives without us even realizing it? There are often so many of them and it's up to each of us to do the work to try to break free from it. It will never be easy, it may be, in fact, very hard, but life will be so much better at the other side of this fight. I've already erased some of mine from my mind. Some, the most difficult ones, are still lingering, but I fight against them everyday, with all of my being. They are nothing more than stories that we told ourselves and that, at some point in our lives, we started to see as being true. Each of us can tell a new story though, one that is aligned with the life of our biggest dreams. * * 🇵🇹 Quantas crenças todos temos, das quais nem nos apercebermos, e que controlam toda a nossa vida? Podem ser tantas, e cada um de nós é responsável por travar a sua própria luta para se libertar delas. Não é fácil, pode ser até muito difícil, mas a vida torna-se tão mais fácil do outro lado. Eu já consegui livrar-me de algumas. Algumas das mais difíceis continuam por cá, mas luto contra elas todos os dias, com todas as minhas forças. Porque elas não passam de histórias que contamos a nós próprios e nas quais, a certa altura das nossas vidas, passámos a acreditar como verdades. Cabe-nos a nós contar uma história nova, uma que nos permita viver de acordo com os nossos maiores sonhos. * * #me #memyselfandi #portrait #mindset #mindsetiseverything #limitingbeliefs #change #befree #behappy #belight #bereal #vulnerability #chasingdreams #inspire #belegendary #mindsetcoach #livethedream #liveyourdreams #liveyourbestlife #betteryou #motivation #motivação #inspiration #inspiração #thisisme #eu #soueu #tribejldesign

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2 – What were the most relevant moments of your career up until now?

My semester in Baltimore is still one of the times in my life I remember the most. I will also never forget the day I defended my thesis and the sense of accomplishment that came with that. The 4 years as a scientist completely changed the person I am: I became more confident, more assertive, more decided and aware of the consequences of my choices. And the day I quit my job to go pursue a different lifestyle is a day I will never forget.

3 – For how long do you have your blog? What inspired you to share your career transition from a scientist in the pharmaceutical industry to digital marketing? What inspired you as well to share personal growth tips?

I started my blog one and a half years ago, in October 2016. Coincidentally, the last 18 months was the period in my life when I feel I changed the most so the blog ended up changing a lot with me. Because it is a place where I always discussed change and which changed alongside me, it would only make sense to talk about the most significant change in my life to date. I believe change is a good thing, as much as it may hurt sometimes. I also know that a lot of people are going through the same kind of changes in their lives and I believe we can all feel less alone if you openly talk about it. As for personal development, it is one of my passions (even though I do have many) and I think it’s something we should all strive for.

4 – How can you be productive in all that you do? You have a blog, a content marketing job, your own business, and you’re even writing a book! How can you make the most of your day?

I believe there are two main aspects to getting a lot done. The first one is organization and planning. Planning and organizing your day, your week and your year, at different levels, of course. So I keep planning my time and my resources and re-organizing to account for new scenarios that I might not be expecting. The second aspect is trial and error, in what comes to time management and productivity. When you are responsible for 100% of your time, you have to find the strategies that work for you, and different strategies are going to work for different people and in different situations. I can tell you that when I had a full-time job and a side-hustle, there were some productivity strategies that used to work for me which don’t work now that I have all the time to dedicate to my projects. At the time, one of the key things for me was to wake up really early and do most of my side-hustle work before going to work. Now that I have all day to work on my projects, I function much better if I have a slow morning routine and start working later.

I experimented a little in the beginning of this stage of my life to see what worked and what didn’t. For example, when I started working from home I though that going to the gym at lunch time would be great. It would allow me to take a break in the middle of the day and keep going all afternoon. Well, I soon found out it didn’t work that well after all. First of all, I would just skip it some of the days. And on the days I did go to the gym, I would always find that it took more time than I expected and it would be hard to get back to work in the afternoon. Now, I go to the gym in the morning, after my meditation and journaling routine and before I start working. I then have breakfast and I start working later in the morning but I  work all through the day with smaller breaks every 1 to 2 hours and I find I’m much more productive this way. It’s only a matter of trying different things and finding out what works for you.

5 – What were the main things you did to relax when you worked as a scientist? Now that you have your own business, did you change those strategies?

As I explained in the last answer, some of my routines have changed a lot. I no longer work hard as soon as I wake up and spread it out more throughout the day. When I worked as a scientist I also used to go to the gym at the end of the day, after leaving work. It was a good way for me to disconnect from work and clear my head – although, depending on how work was going, it didn’t always work that way. Now I go to the gym in the morning, which is great because I never skip it due to being very tired at the end of the day. My main struggle now has been disconnecting at the end of the day. Because I work from home and I have a lot going on – with the business, and classes, and the blog and other projects – I tend to keep going until late at night, sometimes right until I go to bed, which is not a good thing. I want to start implementing a strategy to set a time limit to my workday and have some kind of transition ritual, like maybe 30 minutes of at home yoga or going for a walk. Let’s see how that goes in the next couple of weeks!

6 – From what I read in your blog, the main inspiration for your career transition was the need to become location independent so that you could travel more. Since traveling is one of your passions, what were the places you liked the most? Did you manage to fit traveling into your PhD?

Yes, one of my main goals in life is to see as much of the world as I possibly can! My favorite country to visit is the US! After living in Baltimore (which was in 2008) I already went back 6 times: twice just for work (San Diego and Baltimore again), twice just for vacation (a California + Las Vegas + Grand Canyon 3 week roadtrip and a second time just in San Francisco), and there were two times when I was able to do both things: one was a conference during my PhD in Washington DC which was right at the beginning of summer and after which I went to NYC for 11 days, and the other was another conference also in DC when I was working as a scientist after which I took a long weekend and went back to NYC for 4 days (I would go to NYC every year if it wasn’t so expensive!). There is so much to do in the US. I love the big cities, the small towns, the beaches, the national parks! Right now, because I went back to school and because most of my money is going into my education, I am limited to Lisbon and small trips within Portugal and Europe, at least for another year, but after that I certainly want to go back to the US and explore more. I would even like to live there again, maybe on the west coast this time!

During my PhD I certainly could travel quite a bit, to Washington DC and NYC, as I explained, and also to Denmark. The first time I went to London was also during my PhD, and there were some smaller trips, like Madrid and also within Portugal. But I’ve traveled much more after finishing my PhD!

7 – I’m going to ask you about different cities! You’re from Porto, during the PhD you had a project in Denmark, and today you live in Lisbon. Relatively to these three places, what are your tips to enjoy them?

In Porto, the best things to do are eating and walking the streets. Try francesinha and tripas and walk around downtown, Aliados, Rua das Flores, Ribeira. Check out the new coffee houses that keep popping up everywhere. Good brunches at Zenith and Diplomata.

In Lisbon there is a lot you can do! For those who are into science, go to Pavilhão do Conhecimento. Don’t miss Belém and eat a pastel, also go for a walk downtown in Chiado, Rossio and just get lost in the different neighborhoods. There are lot’s of good places to eat and many cool coffee houses. Go to Mercado da Ribeira for lunch and have a nice dinner at Cantinho do Avillez.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Denmark and I really only got to know Copenhagen. The city is amazing. One of the largest attractions is Tivoli, which is really worth the visit. It is an expensive city but I remember there being nice hamburger places and very cozy coffee shops.

🇬🇧 Visiting my own city as a tourist when I go there for the weekend is one of my favorite things to do. The city is different but still charming. What about you, do you usually act as a tourist in your own hometown? * * 🇵🇹 Passear na minha própria cidade como turista é uma das melhores coisas para fazer quando vou lá ao fim de semana. A cidade está diferente de há uns anos, mas continua a ter aquele encanto. O vocês, costumam ser turistas na vossa cidade-natal? * * #hometown #travel #viajar #livetotravel #viverparaviajar #seetheworld #veromundo #traveltheworld #livetheadventure #livethedream #viveosonho #viveosteussonhos #iraaventura #photooftheday #potd #nuncaparar #travelphotography #sightseeing #hike #view #travelgram #instatravel #wanderlust #vacation #adventure #meuporto #touristinmyowncity #goinghome #portugal

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8 – How was it for you to put, at least on hold, your science career, after several years of doing so? What’s your advice for someone who is looking forward to change their career after the PhD?

Honestly, it was easy, for two main reasons. First of all, I took a long time to reflect about my future, what I really wanted and if I would be ok with no longer working as a scientist. When I finally decided to change, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind about it. I think that is really important. It may start (and it did for my) with just very small thoughts about how life could be different. When that happens, it is way to soon to make a life-changing decision, so take your time, really think about it. Don’t rush into a decision that you might regret afterwards.

If you are at the end of your PhD, it might actually be an awesome transition moment to make a shift. Some people reach the end of their PhDs very tired from the academia world and maybe even from doing scientific research and that’s ok! So why not take a break, go try something different, and see what you prefer? What you have at the end of your PhD – all of your knowledge and experience – won’t go away just because you decide to try something else for a while, so you can always get back to it if you discover that it’s what you really want. I think that very few decisions in life have to be forever (maybe only becoming a parent), so don’t take yourself or your career too seriously and do what you enjoy!

9 – If you could write a book about your life, what would it be the title and why? Would you write a fiction or non-fiction one?

It would have the title of my next project which is still a secret (it’s due to come out in September), so I can’t tell you. I think it would be non-fiction, because my life is not that interesting to inspire a fiction story 🙂

🇺🇸 Today is World Book Day and these are the books from my TBR list that I most want to read during the next couple of months. I will try to tackle them soon. It will take some effort to reserve more time for learning, reading and personal development but it just has to be done. What have you been reading and what's the book you can't wait to read soon? * * 🇵🇹 Hoje é o Dia Mundial do Livro e eu fui desafiada pela @asofiaworld para falar sobre livros. Está tudo no blog (link na bio) e uma das coisas de que falo é dos livros que já devia ter lido mas ainda não li. São só estes todos (sim, os desta imagem)… todos eles livros que quero tanto, mas tanto, ler, mas ainda não consegui chegar lá. . Os próximos meses vão ser fortemente dedicados a abater esta lista. E a tentar reservar mais do meu tempo para o estudo, para a leitura e para o desenvolvimento pessoal. E vocês, o que andam a ler? E o que querem mesmo ler mas ainda não conseguiram? * * #bookstagram #booklovers #addictedtobooks #liveyourbestlife #betteryou #wordsofwisdome #lifegoals #readtolead #belegendary #tribejldesign #impacttheory

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10 – Thank you for your time and I wish you the best of luck for your journey of personal development, inspiration and writing that I have been following for a while now! Where can we follow you?

My personal development blog is at deixaser.pt and my professional website and blog are at filipamaia.pt. You can also follow my bilingual (EN/PT) Instagram @filipamaiablog. I also use Pinterest quite a lot, also @filipamaiablog

Thank you Filipa for your time! I actually am going through that patch I asked in one of the questions, about thinking that maybe a career transition could be in the books. I am taking steps to be able to decide what is the most appropriate career for me. I know plenty of PhD students are in the same boat! This concludes the posts in April, but there’s way more to follow from me on the social networks.

  • This week I am The STEM Squad host on Twitter! Stay tuned for debates on diverse topics related to working in all the four letters of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and being a woman in STEM with diverse interests.
  • I generally post more on Instagram, specially on IG Stories!

Hope you have a wonderful April, now that Spring is shaping up. Next week’s post will be the monthly review of my goals. I’m even scared to do so :p

Cátia

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