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.



#311: A Fair Eight

February 14, 2017 at 4:15PM • 1 hour 13 minutes

TOPIC: Alice hopes to hear from you.

This week's episode is packed—literally, packed—with useful tips, tricks, and even a crazy challenge.

Psyching yourself into falling asleep, learning how to breathe, using your iPhone's secret trackpad, and a gauntlet thrown (or maybe dropped?) to make yourself do everything with your voice for a day.


#310: Nominally Mine

February 7, 2017 at 5:15PM • 1 hour 19 minutes

TOPIC: My place is here—I fight with you!

This week, Dan and Merlin cover a meetup announcement, Merlin's Les Mis obsession, Dan's new Hackintosh Method, and the Benjamin Family's slippery bar problem. Merlin advocates for "The Tiny Life Improvement Project." Pens and pencils are recommended, desks are discussed, and LBJ speaks out about his bespoke slack needs.

The boys talk about the FTC's actions over Vizio's super-creepy user tracking, and wonder what questions to ask about the future of privacy on our smart devices.

Things wrap with a quick discussion of culture-specific cargo culting and why we still cut the ends off the roast.


#309: Hard Pass

January 31, 2017 at 4:15PM • 1 hour 17 minutes

TOPIC: Celebrating your successful failures.

This week, Dan and Merlin kick off with discussion of night bears, the ascendance of Netflix, and some very nice emails from listeners. Merlin also shares an important life hack for Twitter.

Merlin brings in a new thought technology via Jen Kirkman guesting on John Moe's wonderful podcast, The Hilarious World of Depression: learning how to talk back to the voices in your head.

Dan gives some big updates to his (theoretical) project to build a (theoretical) Hackintosh. Huge week.

Finally, Merlin shares a thought on how to potentially find success in your miniature failures. What happens when you decide to keep doing something not because you want to succeed at it…but just because it's a thing that you do?


#308: When Does the Fork Go on the Sat?

January 24, 2017 at 5:30PM • 1 hour 38 minutes

TOPIC: Act like you're somebody that you like.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the evolution of voice recognition and touch interfaces and reminisce on the early days of making the turtle move.

Dan brings in the topic of how fears of both failure and success lead to missed opportunities. Your hosts talk about how to track down the nagging bad feelings about these regrets and troubleshoot what we can learn from them.

Merlin talks about recently returning to “Morning Pages,” what he’s learning from doing it, as well as some tips to help you get started with doing your own daily brain dump.


#307: #43 on The Ladder of Kindness

January 17, 2017 at 5:15PM • 1 hour 38 minutes

TOPIC: Youth is the aberration.

This week, Dan provides updates on his Hackintosh project, which leads to a discussion of finding reviews and advice with context. The hosts realize, acknowledge, and quickly move past their program’s 6th anniversary, spending more time on that drum sound Merlin makes with his mouth.

Recent email pitches are discussed, and advice is offered on smarter ways to pitch strangers on practically anything.

Merlin responds to a question from a listener about learning to find inspiration in the absence of crisis.


#306: Sunday Pant

January 10, 2017 at 4:15PM • 1 hour 47 minutes

TOPIC: Reframing the conversation with yourself.

This week, Merlin talks about his weird mortgage ads and compliments the literally fancy pants he got from the silver underpants people. Suggestions are offered for running a dehumidifier in a “smart home.”

Dan and Merlin have a lot to say about terlets (hey, it’s been a while).

Merlin shares a service for intelligently correlating personal tracking data, a listener has success with some B2W email advice, and another listener asks for tips on doing better self-talk.

Dan shares his cool new project to build a Hackintosh.


#305: Quadruple Down

January 3, 2017 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 29 minutes

TOPIC: This is a feeling I'm feeling.

This week, your hosts look at the announcement of Dish's new Air TV box, along with the rapidly evolving landscape for cord-cutters. Also, fantasies of monk holes are entertained.

The big topic this week is a discussion of a listener's question about the role of positive thinking. [This is a good one.]


#304: The 2016 Compilation Episode

December 31, 2016 at 5:30PM • 1 hour 1 minute

This is the Best of 2016 Compilation Episode, featuring your favorite moments of the show over the last 12 months. Each clip was suggested and submitted by you, our amazing listeners.

Have a great new year!


#303: A Liver Runs Through It

December 20, 2016 at 3:15PM • 1 hour 32 minutes

TOPIC: Is Tim firing us?

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the challenge of dealing with email that's only kind of from a real person. There's some follow-up on Apple and wishing they'd just give us a "Get out of here!"

Merlin recommends some podcasts and a terrific new clipboard manager from Tapbots.

Dan talks about why he finally gave in and treated his eyes to a bigger phone. Just don't get him started on progressive lenses.


#302: Rabbi for the Rabbi

December 13, 2016 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 15 minutes

This week, the boys talk about slicing sand, unboxing videos, Overwatch, and some recommended TV viewing. Odds and sods, as you say.

Main topic is follow-up re: listener feedback on recent Apple conversations.