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.



#281: The Mayor of Chocolate Sundaes

July 19, 2016 at 5:15PM • 1 hour 42 minutes

TOPIC: Way of the future.

This week, Dan and Merlin continue their discussion on updates to their systems and their productivity worlds. In particular: how have new technologies and critical masses of users led to wanting or needing fewer intermediary communications layers?

For years, email was more than just the lingua franca; it was that one internet communication protocol that every user could be counted upon to have and use.

But, today? Options, baby, options! Sometimes for worse, but, so often, for much better.


#280: The Big Filter

July 12, 2016 at 3:30PM • 1 hour 37 minutes

TOPIC: Updates on Productivity and a modern Kobayashi Maru Scenario

This week, Dan and Merlin start a new series on updates. Which sounds really boring, but it isn't, we swear.

This time out, the boys start by diving deep on how and why just so much of their productivity systems have changed over the years. Innumerable ways in which technology and life has evolved to where so many of the old systems seem fiddly, unnecessary, or both.

[This is a good one.]


#279: The Fishery Loophole

July 5, 2016 at 3:45PM • 1 hour 41 minutes

TOPIC: …and, then what happens?

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the unexpected cognitive benefits of ritual, repetition, and thinking through the fascinating question: "…and, then what happens?"


#278: Yelling at an Idea

June 28, 2016 at 5:30PM • 1 hour 30 minutes

TOPIC: People, amirite?

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the complexities of communicating with each other. And, brother, is it ever complicated.


#277: Everything's Hard

June 21, 2016 at 3:30PM • 1 hour 37 minutes

TOPIC: Varieties of pain.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Dan's progress on building fireside.io and its imminent beta release. Lots of fascinating details on why he's made it and who it might be great for.

Then, there's discussion of the unexpected mental benefits of physical training, and the influence that various sorts of pain (real or imagined) can have on us.


#276: Do You Even Lift?

June 14, 2016 at 3:30PM • 1 hour 36 minutes

TOPIC: Merlin's never sent his heartbeat.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about some of this week's WWDC announcements, the past and future of Apple, and that awkward feeling of wondering whether and when new technology is personally relevant.


#275: The Lies of Big Shoe

June 7, 2016 at 3:15PM • 1 hour 36 minutes

TOPIC: Fill one bag.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about our relationship with the stuff in our lives and how overwhelming it can be. Solutions are offered—throw out that old cinnamon!


#274: A Goat in the Pipe

May 31, 2016 at 5:00PM • 1 hour 36 minutes

TOPIC: Disruptions in Service

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about that ineffable but growing feeling of disconnection from the collections we used to treasure. Music, Photos, Movies, Books—all the stuff we increasingly entrust to The Cloud.

Seems like there's a weird confluence of changing culture and buggy technology that makes us feel sadly meh about making everything work. And that feels weird.

Also? Don't be Randyll Tarly. That guy's a total choad.


#273: Knives and Spoons

May 24, 2016 at 4:45PM • 2 hours 8 minutes

TOPIC: True or false dilemmas?

This week, things kick off with a discussion of how to be helpful. Especially at your kid's school, but really just in general. This leads to a rumination on "roots" and what makes us feel like we're part of a community.

The main topic is about the future of machine learning, voice control, and all things "smart." What do we want, what can we imagine, and how do our own biases and habits constrain our sense of possibility?


#272: Surprise Endoscopy

May 17, 2016 at 4:15PM • 1 hour 42 minutes

TOPIC: Such small hands.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Dan's acquisition of an iPhone SE and how much he's loving it. This leads to some ruminative discussion about how we pick devices based on how we prefer to use them.

Also, some love for Spider-Man in the Civil War movie.