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.



#258: Means of Egress

February 9, 2016 at 3:45PM • 1 hour 45 minutes

TOPIC: Feelings, Slide Rules, and The Franklin Test

This week Merlin hasn't had enough coffee and may have early-onset toxoplasmosis, so he and Dan respond to great feedback from listeners, mostly on feeling feelings.


#257: Homemade Science Mayonnaise

February 2, 2016 at 4:00PM • 1 hour 34 minutes

TOPIC: Information, Context, and Courage.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the reaction to last week's episode about work and identity and respond to follow-up questions from listeners.

Also, Merlin buys a faucet.


#256: Every Minute Weighs the Same

January 26, 2016 at 3:30PM • 1 hour 37 minutes

TOPIC: Coder, Kayaker, Father, Person.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Dan's attempt to vastly rejigger his schedule in the interest of mental and physical health.

This leads to a long discussion of work, identity, expectations, and choosing which of the voices in your head to listen to and when.


#255: A Ladle of Ladling

January 19, 2016 at 1:45PM • 1 hour 46 minutes

TOPIC: Say something funny.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about entertainment as a career and how difficult it can be to know whether you're suited for it.

Plus, discussions of X-Men, San Francisco's collapse, and the best way to get vomit out of the bathroom sink.


#254: Fixed Points in Time

January 12, 2016 at 1:00PM • 1 hour 13 minutes

TOPIC: Budgeting the Primary Secondary Project

This week, Dan and Merlin do a deep dive on a very old and very thorny topic: managing time.

Thing is: this is not about bookkeeping—it's about accounting. Being honest, humble, and diligent in mindfully applying your time and seeing how it went.

(This is a good one.)


#253: Ty Lambo

January 5, 2016 at 2:00PM • 1 hour 53 minutes

TOPIC: Elephants all the way down.

This week, Dan and Merlin do a deep dive on communication, perception, persuasion, empathy, and understanding, as illustrated by everything from The Force Awakens to Don LaPre to PR emails to Donald Trump to a variety of elephants—plus a famous photo of a man and the fake dead triceratops he supposedly killed.


#252: The Chocolate Boys

December 23, 2015 at 3:45PM • 1 hour 47 minutes

TOPIC: Something something the things we own.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the way shopping changes how we buy stuff—and how buying is changing what we can actually shop for.

Then, there's a ruminative discussion of the Mast Brothers chocolate dust-up and what it might say about our sense of story, identity, and "authenticity."


#251: Manna Goy

December 15, 2015 at 2:30PM • 1 hour 27 minutes

TOPIC: Maybe quit being so "busy."

This week, Dan and Merlin drop a lot of science on the miraculous taxonomies of Judaica. Mazel Tov!

For the big topic, Merlin launches into an animated jeremiad on words meaning things, with a focus on being terminally "busy" versus being willfully "time-constrained."


#250: Step One: Don't Dress Like the Hamburglar

December 8, 2015 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 57 minutes

TOPIC: Sunrise, Sunset.

This week, Dan and Merlin celebrate their 250th episode with an extensive discussion of McDonaldland and its horrific culture and citizenry.

The main topic addresses the ““sunsetting”” of the Mailbox iOS app—and what it highlights about deciding where to put our stuff, what apps we choose to use, and what contingency plans it's probably wise to have in place.


#249: A John Nash Moment

December 1, 2015 at 2:00PM • 1 hour 49 minutes

TOPIC: Personal Crazy Walls

This week, Dan and Merlin start by covering a lot of things that you might actually be thinking of.

The meat of the episode focuses on a listener question about deciding what things go where—leading to a pretty nerdy exegesis of Notes vs. text files, reminders vs. task managers, and where stuff goes vs. where it probably should go.