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I’ve lived through many disasters. Here is my advice on “productivity”.

Great twitter thread from Dr Aisha Ahmad which I’ve unrolled here

@ProfAishaAhmadInt’l Security prof @UTSC & @UofT, Chair WIIS-Canada, boxer. Author of award-winning book Jihad & Co. https://bit.ly/2uqQVWD

Academic peeps: I’ve lived through many disasters. Here is my advice on “productivity”. First, play the long game. Your peers who are trying to work as normal right now are going to burn out fast. They’re doomed. Make a plan with a longer vision. /1 

Second, your top priority is to stabilize and control your immediate home environment. Ensure your pantry has sensible supplies. Clean your house. Make a coordinated family plan. Feeling secure about your own emergency preparedness will free up mental space. /2 

Third, any work that can be simplified, minimized, and flushed: FLUSH IT. Don’t design a fancy new online course. It will suck & you will burn out. Choose the simplest solution for you & your students, with min admin. Focus on getting students feeling empowered & engaged. /3 

Fourth, give yourself a proper mental adjustment window. The first few days in a disaster zone are always a write-off. But if you give yourself that essential window, your body and mind WILL adjust to the new normal. Without that mental shift, you’ll fall on your face. /4 

Fifth, AFTER you experience the mental shift, build a schedule. Make a routine. Put it on a weekly calendar with time blocks. Wake up early. Put the most important parts first: food, family, fitness. Priority 1 is a stable home. Then add windows for achievable work goals. /5 

Sixth, cooperate with your brain. For me, I need to ease into heavy-duty academic writing. So I do admin in the morning, and then dip my toe into papers and book projects around noon. Tick off accomplishments, no matter how small. Trust and support your mental shift. /6 

It’s unreasonable to demand your body & brain do the same things under higher stress conditions. Some people can write in a war zone. I cannot. I wait until I get back. But I can do other really useful things under high stress conditions. Support your continuing mental shift. /7 

For my PoliSci colleagues: this phenomenon should change how we understand the world. So let this distract you from your work. Because the world is supposed to be our work. May this crisis dismantle all our faulty assumptions and force us into new terrain. /8 

And finally, we can check on our neighbours, reach out to isolated people, and volunteer or donate as we can. Because at the end of the day, our papers can wait.