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.



#337: Cognitive Bottleneck

August 18, 2017 at 4:00PM • 1 hour 11 minutes

TOPIC: How do you know when you're legitimately overwhelmed?

This episode, your hosts catch up on Florida, schedule and sleep consistency, ladders vs. walls, travel mania, and the fraught landscape of personal device security.

Your hosts respond to listener feedback and questions regarding feeling overwhelmed and dealing with dumb clocks.


#336: Town Centre Plaza Spot

August 18, 2017 at 3:45PM • 1 hour 5 minutes

TOPIC: Keep your hand away from the giant's mouth!

This week, Dan and Merlin look back on summer and forward to the new school year. Also, some excellent ad hoc Business Analysis about the past and future of malls and other retail outposts.

Your hosts respond to listener feedback and questions regarding domain name speculation and options for tracking multiple currencies


#335: Personal Assistant to Darius

August 1, 2017 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 32 minutes

TOPIC: Start treating yourself like a dummy today.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about iOS 11, the trade-offs of running betas, and waking up to how we're using devices differently. Merlin has thoughts on the usefulness of the will to live.

Dan has a new approach to dealing with PR pitches, and the boys undertake an exciting new social experiment.

Your hosts answer listener questions about the mechanics of calendar scheduling and best practices for building new habits.


#334: The Little White One

July 25, 2017 at 2:00PM • 1 hour 15 minutes

TOPIC: Mapping Your Focus and Motivation

This week, Dan talks about a cool new addition to his Fireside.fm service, and Merlin interviews him about how he likes to choose, plan, and evolve the features of an app.

Two questions this week, both from Listener Jonathan.

First, your hosts address the era of Peak TV, including how they choose their TV services and how they recommend narrowing in on finding the best stuff to watch (and when).

Next, the evergreen topic of calendars and todos returns. How do you decide what goes where? And how do combine focus and motivation to derive a functional map of your time terrain?

Dan considers acquiring a house mammal.


#333: Your Whiteboards Will Not Survive Reality

July 18, 2017 at 2:00PM • 1 hour 20 minutes

TOPIC: Help! My bosses are doing a really dumb thing!

This week, Dan and Merlin help a listener and his youngster get started with Spider-Man. Also, hey, support your Local Comic Shop!

Listener Molly asks how to help prevent a terrible, damaging change from happening inside her company.

Dan talks about War for the Planet of the Apes, and Merlin knows when to exit on a good bit.


#332: Piggybacking on Anger

July 11, 2017 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 40 minutes

TOPIC: Making the spice flow.

This week, Dan and Merlin dive into the thriving ecosystem of Florida's ad hoc roofing and lawn care professionals. Merlin gets The Boeing Contract, and Dan leaves a check under the mat.

Your hosts admit they don't really understand the big kerfuffle over 1Password, but they admit to feeling the pain of being an indie developer today. Dan just wants the beef ribs he'd been promised.

Around 1:19:30, the spoiler horn fires off for a squee-filled celebration of Spider-Man: Homecoming. (Seriously. Just go see this movie.)


#331: Hidden in Wigs

July 7, 2017 at 2:45PM • 1 hour 31 minutes

TOPIC: Time Tetris in Difficult Mode

This week, Dan and Merlin do a VERY deep dive on one listener's question about life with an excruciating shared Google Calendar. Merlin, unsurprisingly, has a lot to say about this. No. Like, really. A lot a lot.

Other topics include Food Lion bleach meat, God's only sandwich, Adventure Time Mashup Pack (Finally!), Agape love, and, importantly, "What’s Happening To Sleep Train?"


#330: Frowny Face for You

June 27, 2017 at 4:45PM • 1 hour 1 minute

TOPIC: Drawing effective water.

In this week's tight and bright episode, Dan and Merlin do dome followup on food bars and CBD oil, then discuss how to get better at letting people just enjoy what they like.

In this week's main topic, your hosts address how to think more productively (and more realistically) about what you need from a task management app.


#329: Stop all the OTUS

June 20, 2017 at 3:30PM • 1 hour 51 minutes

TOPIC: Thirty cable boxes.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about beloved late night talk shows, Planet of the Apes, and the future of TV. Dan introduces his new thought technology about "Protoforms."

Your hosts also respond to listener questions about using Chromecasts and how to start the day.


#328: Donkey in a Biscuit

June 13, 2017 at 2:45PM • 1 hour 43 minutes

TOPIC: Asterisks and Question Marks.

This week, Dan and Merlin cover corgis (and other pets), asking for lettuce wraps, high-floor sandwiches, bread in a tube, John Wick (no spoilers), and the wonderful comic infographics of Kate Willaert.

There is some ecosystem talk regarding ride sharing statistics and Apple's announced addition of podcast listening analytics. How many bits of identifying information are you sending?

Your hosts answer Listener Tim's question about when to accept that you can't do everything and should just let go of old project ideas.