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.


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#80: Cascading Wave of Bad

August 13, 2012 at 2:45PM • 1 hour 29 minutes

TOPIC: Kicking and Screaming

Merlin has been dragged kicking and screaming into at least two things this week. Sometimes, that works out, and sometimes it doesn't. But, how many of those things do we need? How many can you sign up for? How often do you see Beast coming down the hall?

There aren't that many things you have to do, but how can you see it coming? Well, you know where your cumin is and you haven't checked your MySpace this week. How's that for complicated?


#79: Mayor Pro Tem of Hoboville

August 6, 2012 at 2:00PM • 1 hour 24 minutes

TOPIC: Adapting to the Danger Room of Life

Dan and Merlin talk about how the protagonist of your story handles change in personal and work environments.

How do you respond in the face of change you haven't anticipated or isn't conducive to who you want to be? What is the worst that could happen? Who can help you except you?


#78: Scream, Poop, and Run

July 30, 2012 at 1:45PM • 1 hour 17 minutes

TOPIC: Gut Churn, Pointing Arrows, and Recognizing Change

This week, Dan and Merlin talk at length about a recent article by Radiolab's Jad Abumrad, called, "The Terrors & Occasional Virtues of Not Knowing What You’re Doing."

From the genesis of Radiolab through casting about for what comes next, Jad's article reads like a Greatest Hits of Back to Work. Just terrific.

It all comes down to working through the times you don't know what you're doing and making, then accepting that—even once you do know—you still have to push through change and evolution.

Working through the fear to make something awesome? Well. That's Fine for Jad Abumrad.


#77: Sadness Harmonica

July 23, 2012 at 1:45PM • 1 hour 25 minutes

TOPIC: Motivation, Hardware Stores, and Fighting the Last War

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about motivation—how it changes, how it doesn't, and how it can be fueled by anxiety and cognitive dissonance.

There is also discussion of Merlin's pear tart problem, the challenge of the engineering triangle, and, yeah, a new t-shirt That's Fine for Merlin.


#76: The Avatar of Dorian Gray

July 16, 2012 at 4:00PM • 1 hour 27 minutes

TOPICS: Better Meat & Working Backwards

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the many strategic and tactical benefits of reverse-engineering your next project.

There is also extensive discussion of choosing, preparing, and cooking meat.

It's not food until is sounds like food and it smells like food.


#75: The Mayor of Perspective

July 9, 2012 at 3:30PM • 1 hour 27 minutes

TOPIC: Feeling Stuck in the Middle

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about a topic suggested by listener, @toddsandends: what happens when you're stuck enforcing rules you don't agree with?

Whether you're a security guard, an RA, a SysAdmin, a character on The Wire, or pretty much anybody else, sometimes there's just stuff you gotta do. Even when you think it's a terrible idea.

So, who's allowed to corrupt you, what's it worth, and how long is that going to be okay with you?

As ever, work is a lot of work.


#74: Cheap Liberal Arts Relativism

July 2, 2012 at 3:30PM • 1 hour 24 minutes

TOPIC: How Much Honesty Can We Stand?

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about how ridiculously complex "Honesty" can be. Do "Candor," "Transparency," "Frankness," and all those other Capital Letter Nouns mean the same thing?


#73: Permission to Unclench

June 25, 2012 at 5:30PM • 1 hour 40 minutes

TOPIC: Aspects of Letting Go

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about two very different viewports into doing what you want to do and being who you want to be.

There's the non-fiddly value you earn from getting junk out of your head and into a place you trust (in this instance, OmniFocus location-based contexts).

Then, there's the "what the cuss?" situation faced by listener, "Evan," who's struggling with a work conundrum that's hard on the office freezer and his feelings.

How do you move toward doing the right thing in the face of a lot of wrong? And, how do you take care of the piddly crap that's made your brain such a messy white board?

Also, there's our new t-shirts, some boot scoots, lots of tickles, plus, that total tool who pushed Shlomo out. Don't even get Merlin started. Literally.


#72: Rocky Balboa Moment

June 18, 2012 at 3:30PM • 1 hour 27 minutes

TOPIC: Confidence, Courage, and the Problem with Thinking

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about why we may or may not feel confident to do stuff. How do other people seem to get it so easily, and where do they find the courage?

Well. You walk through The Forum, you check the mics, and you never let thinking get in your way.

Too much thinking? UNACCEPTABLE!

Dungeon. Seven years. No trials.


#71: Sorry to Lose You as a Son

June 11, 2012 at 12:30PM • 1 hour 39 minutes

TOPIC: The Problem with Passive-Aggression. If that's okay with you.

This week, Dan and Merlin apologize if they've made you unhappy with an episode about passive-aggressiveness, wussy non-communication, and non-apology apologies. But, maybe, that'll just have to be okay with them.

But, could you PLEASE take your tuna out of the fridge, pick up after your dog, make more coffee, change the toilet paper roll, and help with taking trash to the curb?

Thank You In Advance For Your Cooperation!
The Management