Dr Aisha Ahmad Profile picture
Mar 18, 2020 9 tweets 2 min read Read on X
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.

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More from @ProfAishaAhmad

Mar 23, 2022
Dear colleagues. Some of you are very emotional about the war in Ukraine. I get it. When your loved ones are in danger, international security no longer feels like a job. It’s your life. Your heart. But now, more than ever, you need emotional discipline. Thread.
If this is the first time a war feels closer, more personal, you are going to have a tsunami of emotions. While your feelings are valid, those emotions will also bias your analysis. You will have a harder time sticking to the facts. You will be ineffective. /1
One of the harder lessons in war is learning how to control your emotions – your justifiable rage – in the face of atrocities & injustice. But practicing emotional discipline is the correct & effective way to care about people on the ground. /2
Read 16 tweets
Apr 12, 2021
This is a very serious allegation. Vaccines in Ontario are a desperately needed *scarce resource* that are unevenly distributed. That’s already a conflict risk. Even the slightest *perception* of political partisanship makes things very volatile. /A Security Prof Thread
The scholarship shows that resource scarcity can provoke & inflame conflict. Perceptions of unfairness also activate protest. While provincial govts don’t think about civil strife often, they should tread carefully here. /1
Plenty of Ontarians have lost lives, jobs, health & homes this past year. These factors already put societies at risk of conflict. As docile as you may think our province is, it dangerous to add a partisanship bias perception to this mix. /2
Read 17 tweets
Feb 4, 2021
Last week, my university advertised a "pandemic productivity" seminar. Today, I got the "due to unforeseen circumstances" cancellation message.

Unforeseen? Really? This little example shows why we need to change the narrative about productivity amid crisis. 🙏🏽 /Thread
For the record, I've been a very "productive" in my academic work during the pandemic. I am not against productivity. But, this has absolutely nothing to do with my merit. It has to do with my luck. /1
We are living in an uncertainty vortex with a thousand moving variables that affect what we can and cannot do each day. I don't control 90% of those variables, and so what I can and cannot do each day isn't decided by me. /2
Read 14 tweets
Feb 2, 2021
Today is my beloved husband Simon’s birthday. 💝 My heart is very squeezed for this person. So, here are a few wonderful things about my bestie that just have to be said. /A Birthday Thread 🎉🎁🎀🎂🍰
First, my Simon is an emergency worker & this has been a very hard year… but never once has he complained or passed the buck. No matter how tough the challenge, he has shown up with excellence & good character. /1
A key reason Simon is so stalwart is because he spent 12 years in the @CanadianForces. His uniform made him strong & humble. His dad once told me, “you have to understand, Simon is a soldier. And he was a soldier before he was a soldier.” Real talk. So much respect. /2
Read 16 tweets
Dec 31, 2020
Hey lovely people! 😊🙏🏽 So here we are, ending 2020 with soaring COVID cases, crushing lockdowns, & corrupt politicians. Folks, this is rock bottom. So... how can start 2021 with hope & joy? Take heart. We're going to get through this winter valley together. 💪🏽❤️ /THREAD.
Nine months in, we are now around halfway through the crisis phase of COVID. That might seem scary, but have faith. Once we make it through this “rock bottom” period, the rest of part 2 will be brighter & easier. /1
The toughest period is the winter valley… the darkest, coldest months, highest infection rates, harshest lockdowns. Vaccines coming, but not here. This is a hands-down the toughest stretch, but it is not forever. By April-May 2021, we will be back in the light. /2
Read 15 tweets
Dec 31, 2020
"Tolerated again"?? I'm sorry, but the correct response was "You're fired". I could not be more disgusted at this shameful and corrupt conduct. It makes a mockery of the sacrifices emergency workers and their families have made over the past 9 months.
And I just want to add, a government that lacks legitimacy - indeed moral authority - is incapable of governing and leading people in a crisis. No one will sacrifice for them. No one will trust the process. And that political disaster hurts everyone.
Everything about our countries and democracies is at some level imaginary. They work only because we all collectively believe in them. When that belief is compromised, it can quickly fall apart. Corruption is not a side issue, especially in the middle of a disaster.
Read 4 tweets

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