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Monday Master Class: Form a Productivity Junta

Franklin’s FriendsThe Junta

In 1727, Benjamin Franklin gathered a group of friends into an organization he called the Junta. They met regularly for conversation and to discuss ideas — letting off the type of intellectual steam that can build up when you are living in what was then a colonial backwater. It’s rumored that an organizing rule of the group was that no one could arrive with a fixed opinion. Everything was open to debate and persuasion. It was self improvement on steroids. A time to challenge their minds. A time to grow. A time to repeatedly say the word “Junta,” because it’s awesome.

Franklin was on to something. This model worked for him and his pre-revolutionary acquaintances. And it can work for you too.

Let me explain…

From Colonial Philadelphia to Your Dorm Room

I want to make a bold suggestion: Find two or three friends who might also enjoy the type of productivity hacks discussed on this blog. Next: establish your own Productivity Junta. Meet once a week. Over coffee or beer. (Though not both…I’ve tried, the flavors don’t mix.) Discuss the problems, concerns, and successes you’ve been having with the technical aspects of being a successful, well-balanced, low-stress college student.

Specifically, address the following three issues (motivated strongly by the Straight-A Method Framework):

  1. Stress and Productivity: Are you completing the work you need to get done without too much stress or guilt?
  2. Study Strategies: Have you found sufficiently efficient study strategies for the classes you’re taking?
  3. Secret Aspirations: Are you making progress on the big, ambitious, grand projects that you day dream about in your moments of optimism?

For each topic, allow every member of the Junta to answer the following crucial questions:

  1. What worked toward answering this question positively?
  2. What didn’t work?
  3. What can I do to have more of (1) and less of (2)?
  4. Why is there no more of that intoxicatingly quaffable beer-coffee mixture left?

The Junta Effect

The idea is simple. Gather some like-minded friends and discuss the gunk between the tire tread details of student productivity. Gripe about failures, learn from successes. Easy stuff.

The effect, however, is profound. By working through the technical details of your student life with others, you’ll be surprised by how many otherwise overlooked truths will shake loose. An idiotic study habit acting as an engorged leech on your free time. A big project that you’re afraid to start.

Best of all, however, is knowing that you’re not alone. By sharing your stresses and then working with others to reduce them is a liberating experience. It’s also an excuse to discuss over-complicated time management strategies. Which, as any regular productivity blog reader will tell you, is like crack to us.

Let Me Join You

I feel so strongly about the Productivity Junta idea that I want to help you get going. Here are my two extra special offers:

  1. If you form a Junta, e-mail me the big questions or concerns that arise in your first meeting. I’ll respond with my own thoughts and commentary.
  2. If you’re in the Cambridge, MA area, let me know! I am happy to attend a gathering of the first Cambridge area Junta to contact me.

I know it might be uncomfortable at first to involve others into your concerns of productivity, stress, and studying. But once you make that step, you’ll wonder how you ever survived on your own.

Also, the word “Junta” impresses chicks. Ask Franklin.

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