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.


RSS Feed  •  iTunes  •  Sponsor  • 


#104: Grab Your Revolver

January 29, 2013 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 33 minutes

TOPIC: Modern Media Management: Metadata and Smart Playlists

This week Dan and Merlin continue their 3-part series on Modern Media Management: handling your iTunes Library, iOS Devices, and iTunes Match without making yourself crazy.

In this episode, the focus is on fixing audio metadata, with a big discussion of the awesome MusicBrainz and Picard.


#103: Lotta Little Knives

January 22, 2013 at 6:00PM • 1 hour 39 minutes

TOPIC: Modern Media Management: iTunes Match

This week Dan and Merlin begin a 3-part series on Modern Media Management: handling your iTunes Library, iOS Devices, and iTunes Match without making yourself crazy.

In this episode, they cover setting up and using iTunes Match, being safe and paranoid, what to do after you get the iTunes ping, some smart playlists that will help you exclude kwanzaa music, find stuff you don't want to listen to, and maintain your sanity.

Next episode they'll discuss wrangling metadata and smart playlists. Then in the last episode of the series, they'll cover managing the libraries on your devices and some grab bag stuff.


#102: Hunter Ready to Write

January 15, 2013 at 2:15PM • 57 minutes

TOPIC: Creative Costumes vs. Pushing Out Product

This week Dan and Merlin talk about how the legends and mythologies around creative people and beautiful losers can become such a destructive MacGuffin for us aspiring civilians.

Getting gakked out on Hunter S. Thompson's cocaine and buying Sylvia Plath's oven are unlikely to take you anyplace useful, interesting, or…creative.

Also: "BRIANMICHAELBENDIS!"


#101: Sprinting Straight Into a Wall

January 8, 2013 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 29 minutes

TOPIC: Those New Years When We're Not Actually Resolved.

This week, Merlin and Dan step back from resolutions and shooting yourself in the face with a wrist rocket to talk about what you're actually trying to change.

You're failing and feeling bad and eating a whole bag of cookies because you're resolving to be someone you're not (yet). What are you really trying to address? Are you being honest with yourself? Where do you actually start?

Find the real reasons, build a real infrastructure, and build yourself a real habit.


#100: Go Ahead, Caller.

January 3, 2013 at 2:30PM • 1 hour 29 minutes

TOPIC: Yes. The caller is there.

This week, in celebration of their hundredth episode, Dan and Merlin do the first call-in episode of Back to Work.

A bevy of the beloved jackals and nerds ask questions about GTD, creative autonomy, sleep and energy, interpersonal work communications, moving up at work, self-publishing, finding your rabbi, Marines, X-Men, and more.


#99: Nobody Wants to Live in a Scaffolding

December 21, 2012 at 7:30PM • 1 hour 35 minutes

TOPIC: Troubleshooting for Saner GTD

This week, Dan and Merlin wrap up their epic summer crossover series on David Allen's book Getting Things Done, focusing on the trouble spots, hang-ups, and occasional rat holes that people often encounter in implementing and maintaining their GTD system.


#98: Bagged and Boarded

December 18, 2012 at 4:15PM • 1 hour 36 minutes

TOPIC: Working Getting Things Done to stay current, complete, and creative.

This week, Dan and Merlin continue their discussion of David Allen's Getting Things Done system.

Learning how to leverage GTD's modality to firewall time for guilt-free creative work.


#97: Pope of the Office

December 11, 2012 at 4:00PM • 1 hour 44 minutes

TOPIC: Using GTD to sanely and intelligently decide what to do, and when, and where.

This week, Dan and Merlin continue their discussion of David Allen's Getting Things Done system.

Hopping over the basic workflow and setup (you'll definitely need the book for that), this is all about doing—leveraging the horizontal and vertical axes of GTD to intuitively choose exactly the right task at any given moment.

Regardless of interruptions, regardless of unexpected change, and regardless of what you're mindfully not doing.

David Allen calls GTD, "The Art of Stress-Free Productivity," and this is the episode where you'll find out how having put this system in place can yield astronomical improvements in how your actual things get done.

Also included: a teaser for January's "iTunes management" series, plus recommendations for the three best comic series Merlin read this week.


#96: Compensatory Muscles

December 4, 2012 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 41 minutes

TOPIC: A Better System for Dealing with Life's "Stuff"

This week, Dan and Merlin continue their discussion of David Allen's book, Getting Things Done.


#95: She's Five for a Living

November 27, 2012 at 2:30PM • 1 hour 30 minutes

TOPIC: Intro to David Allen’s “Getting Things Done”

This week, Dan and Merlin start a long-overdue three-part storyline on David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done.[1]

How do you unwad that giant crapball of stuff you call a life? The answer is simple, but it’s not so easy. You need a trusted system in which to collect, process, review, and—yes—do all the things that matter.

Getting Things Done is inarguably one of the best and most influential self-help books of all time for a good reason: it’s a candid, realistic, and painfully honest way to get out of your hole, and then stay out.

This week, we start with the philosophical and psychological underpinnings of GTD, as well as the myriad and thorny problems it can help you address.

So, pick up your own copy of GTD, read it through, then join us for a detailed tour of the system that changed Merlin’s game and helped jumpstart his online career.


  1. ©DavidCo, 2001.  ↩