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.



#255: A Ladle of Ladling

January 19, 2016 at 1:45PM • 1 hour 46 minutes

TOPIC: Say something funny.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about entertainment as a career and how difficult it can be to know whether you're suited for it.

Plus, discussions of X-Men, San Francisco's collapse, and the best way to get vomit out of the bathroom sink.


#254: Fixed Points in Time

January 12, 2016 at 1:00PM • 1 hour 13 minutes

TOPIC: Budgeting the Primary Secondary Project

This week, Dan and Merlin do a deep dive on a very old and very thorny topic: managing time.

Thing is: this is not about bookkeeping—it's about accounting. Being honest, humble, and diligent in mindfully applying your time and seeing how it went.

(This is a good one.)


#253: Ty Lambo

January 5, 2016 at 2:00PM • 1 hour 53 minutes

TOPIC: Elephants all the way down.

This week, Dan and Merlin do a deep dive on communication, perception, persuasion, empathy, and understanding, as illustrated by everything from The Force Awakens to Don LaPre to PR emails to Donald Trump to a variety of elephants—plus a famous photo of a man and the fake dead triceratops he supposedly killed.


#252: The Chocolate Boys

December 23, 2015 at 3:45PM • 1 hour 47 minutes

TOPIC: Something something the things we own.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the way shopping changes how we buy stuff—and how buying is changing what we can actually shop for.

Then, there's a ruminative discussion of the Mast Brothers chocolate dust-up and what it might say about our sense of story, identity, and "authenticity."


#251: Manna Goy

December 15, 2015 at 2:30PM • 1 hour 27 minutes

TOPIC: Maybe quit being so "busy."

This week, Dan and Merlin drop a lot of science on the miraculous taxonomies of Judaica. Mazel Tov!

For the big topic, Merlin launches into an animated jeremiad on words meaning things, with a focus on being terminally "busy" versus being willfully "time-constrained."


#250: Step One: Don't Dress Like the Hamburglar

December 8, 2015 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 57 minutes

TOPIC: Sunrise, Sunset.

This week, Dan and Merlin celebrate their 250th episode with an extensive discussion of McDonaldland and its horrific culture and citizenry.

The main topic addresses the ““sunsetting”” of the Mailbox iOS app—and what it highlights about deciding where to put our stuff, what apps we choose to use, and what contingency plans it's probably wise to have in place.


#249: A John Nash Moment

December 1, 2015 at 2:00PM • 1 hour 49 minutes

TOPIC: Personal Crazy Walls

This week, Dan and Merlin start by covering a lot of things that you might actually be thinking of.

The meat of the episode focuses on a listener question about deciding what things go where—leading to a pretty nerdy exegesis of Notes vs. text files, reminders vs. task managers, and where stuff goes vs. where it probably should go.


#248: A Rye Bread Made of Birds

November 24, 2015 at 1:30PM • 1 hour 32 minutes

TOPIC: More Songs About Buildings and Food

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about transitions, microwave ovens, air conditioning, and the likelihood of salmonella.


#247: On a Farm with a Monkey

November 17, 2015 at 2:30PM • 1 hour 23 minutes

TOPIC: A Mark on a Page

This week, Dan and Merlin kick off by talking about Dan's recent interview with "Weird Al" and how he's such an interesting harbinger of changing times for media and platforms.

Next, Merlin responds to a listener's question about how he uses a notebook, which leads to an extended dissertation on how to ruin your notebook in the best way possible. Nothing doesn't go in here.


#246: Venn Diagram of Confusion

November 10, 2015 at 2:00PM • 1 hour 54 minutes

TOPIC: Medieval or Renaissance?

This week, Dan and Merlin start out by helping listeners learn to identify the subtle differences between all things Renaissance and Medieval.

The remainder of the show is split between an in-depth introduction to the Plex media ecosystem, and a philosophical and practical meditation on choosing how to spend a given day.