Back to Work

Back to Work

Back to Work is an award winning talk show with Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin discussing productivity, communication, work, barriers, constraints, tools, and more.

Hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.



#300: A Room Where I Don’t Matter

December 1, 2016 at 4:00PM • 1 hour 51 minutes

TOPIC: Kipple and Boomboxes

This week Dan and Merlin start by talking about purging junk and answering listener feedback about kids and phones and teachers dealing with email.

Main topic this week is whither Apple? Based on how the company is evolving, who do we think their future products will be for?


#299: Unhook from the Comparison

November 22, 2016 at 6:45PM • 1 hour 14 minutes

TOPIC: Your "backstage" vs. their "onstage"

This week, Merlin shares some useful thoughts (via Patrick Rothfuss) on being careful about how we compare ourselves to others.

The hosts also share some terrific listener suggestions for fantasy books for kids.

Also, Dan has strong feelings about poultry.


#298: Night Boot for Big Beef

November 15, 2016 at 3:45PM • 1 hour 25 minutes

This week, Dan and Merlin do another of their beloved Odds 'n Sods episodes, with tons of great recommendations for movies, TV, apps, services, and nighttime medical appliances.


#297: It Takes Craftspersonship

November 11, 2016 at 3:30PM • 1 hour 28 minutes

This week, Dan and Merlin are a little out of sorts, so, after some chat and followup, they talk about some of the things that make them happy. Plus, awesome Mac key commands.


#296: Surely You Can't be Sirius

November 1, 2016 at 3:45PM • 1 hour 43 minutes

TOPIC: Leaving Dropbox Vegas

Merlin survives a sleepover, and Dan has a concern about Dropbox.


#295: I’m Not Talkin’ for Clapping

October 25, 2016 at 3:30PM • 1 hour 19 minutes

  • Dan's still a little under the weather
  • What home automation is good at right now (and what it mostly isn't)
  • Updates on Hiya and call-blocking apps not working so much
  • Merlin is getting pretty good at making Trump hands
  • Hey! Follow-up and listener questions!
  • Listener Greg wisely reframes the communication problem
  • If you want to help people: offer something specific
  • John Siracusa just wants toast in a reasonable amount of time
  • Listener Johnathan has trouble getting timely responses from his busy manager
    • Tip: It pays to ask around and maybe escalate
  • Everybody feels vulnerable about something
  • Listener Brian doesn't want to pester people about his side project
    • Tip: Scale up and act like a magazine editor
  • Ooooo…The Monty Hall Problem!
  • Listener Matt needs tips on being a new dad
    • Tip: You're not as bad at this as you think (or fear)


#294: Sufficiently Advanced Friendship

October 18, 2016 at 5:30PM • 1 hour 48 minutes

TOPIC: How to pester people responsibly.

  • Dan's a little under the weather.
  • Maybe kids should be in balls. Who knows?
  • "Wrap a hot towel around your head."
  • Westworld. It's definitely a thing.
  • Follow-up…
  • TaskPaper 3.5 is awesome.
  • Yes. There are good board games. Sorry about that.
  • How Merlin made Candyland more interesting. But only a little.
  • Followup on smoke detectors. What a mess!
  • More advice on covering up dumb LED lights.
  • Merlin has an amazing rice cooker.
  • Harry Potter talk. Movies we like, etc.
  • Cool new Harry Potter prints.
  • MAIN TOPIC: How to pester people responsibly.
  • Trouble getting a response: what's the real problem here?
  • Merlin learned a lot from being an unsuccessful project manager.
  • If your results are at odds with your expectations? Something isn't working.
  • Dan talks about his new interest in informal journaling.
  • Writing is a 3D printer for your thoughts.


#293: The Frame for Our Relationship

October 11, 2016 at 4:00PM • 1 hour 49 minutes

TOPIC: The Minimum Viable Waste of Time.

Some awesome odds and sods, a great new Markdown editor for OS X, and a main topic on dealing with those aggressive email follow-up people.

  • Dan's Concern™ regarding his annoying smoke detectors
  • Why things seem to get worse and more diverse
  • Evaluate the credulity of Amazon reviews with Fakespot
  • Scary edge cases for Samsung Note fires
  • Cary's great DNS switching trick
  • Merlin is loving Typora, a clever and powerful new desktop Markdown editor
  • Pandoc does many file conversion things
  • Homebrew makes Mac package management a doddle
  • Brett Terpstra's Markdown Service Tools are essential
  • TableFlip is a cool app for making and editing Markdown tables
  • Fountain and Slugline are awesome for Markdown-like screenplay writing
  • Also, hey. Editorial for iOS can totally handle Fountain files. Turns out!
  • Merlin and Dan are still really liking iOS 10
  • It's definitely worth the time to prune your iOS notifications
  • Main Topic: How should we deal with all those "just circling back" people?
  • iPhone spam call blocker Hiya seems to be working now


#292: Rat King of Crush

October 4, 2016 at 1:30PM • 1 hour 12 minutes

TOPIC: A Surfeit of Merlin Mannsplaining.

This week, Dan and Merlin produce an undisputed instaclassic odds and sods episode.

  • When technology makes you feel crazy.
  • Are retweets endorsements?
  • Universal New Yorker captions.
  • Cursed Images is amazing.
  • Vatican Cameos!
  • A totally smooth way to stop talking about someone when they walk into the room.
  • iOS 10 call-blocking apps. Do they even?
  • How to send an 'E mail' - Database - 1984 - YouTube
  • BIG ACTUALLY-USEFUL SEGMENT: Two super-interesting matrices.
  • How to plan your day.
  • What Percentage Alcohol? WHAT PERCENTAGE?
  • We still miss Phil Hartman.
  • A recommended RSS option.
  • Apple caters to Dan's News needs.
  • Dim your LEDs!
  • "Alexa, who is the Mother of Dragons?"
  • Fast gloss on Plex's very interesting new Cloud Sync offering.
  • This is one for the books.


#291: Three Healthy Holes

September 27, 2016 at 3:15PM • 1 hour 31 minutes

TOPIC: The Unreliable Narrator of You

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about weather, compost, small changes, plus some Sling TV followup.

The main topic involves Merlin helping Dan sanely enter the Philips Hue Light ecosystem. It's not just for nerds any more. (Although, sure, yeah, it's still mostly for nerds.)