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.



#59: Brains All the Way Down

March 19, 2012 at 5:45PM • 2 hours 1 minute

This week, Dan and Merlin tackle the problem of changing cultures at work. It's not a snapshot, it's not a kitchen table, and it may actually have surprisingly little to do with you.

Which is complicated.


#58: Girl with the QR Tattoo

March 12, 2012 at 4:30PM • 1 hour 12 minutes

TOPIC: Changing Inputs

Dan turns Merlin's technical difficulties into a discussion of discovering and paying attention to things that have a high ROI.

It's not about who you think you are, or the latest and loudest thing. You'll miss something even if you follow 1000 blogs, so remember who you really are.

La pregunta: ¿Que hacer?


#57: Start with Anger, End with a Sign

March 5, 2012 at 4:30PM • 1 hour 33 minutes

Merlin and Dan talk about successful lawn care secrets and getting angry over dog poop, paper towels, duck crossings, and the Dark Side.

No one ever saw the error of their ways because they saw a note from Management. Instead of counting piles and grabbing coals, maybe act a little more like Mr. Rogers.


#56: One Giant Beholder Dinosaur

February 28, 2012 at 4:45PM • 1 hour 27 minutes

Merlin and Dan talk about your attachment to old coffee cups, Captain America glasses, and Grandma's underwear cabinet—all the physical (and emotional) clutter that keeps you from making the things you love and having the life you want. The Kipple.

See: it's not a red snapper problem, it's an emotional problem. So, quit being scared of your fridge, or your inbox, or your todo list. Just suck it up, buy some contractor bags, and never organize another thing that's not worth keeping.


#55: The Pickles Never Touch

February 21, 2012 at 5:00PM • 1 hour 47 minutes

This week Dan and Merlin ponder why there's so much variability in the quality of our work. 

Whether we're making code, scrubbing toilets, or stinking up the Arby's, what explains our individual drive to do something better?


#54: Freemium Mason

February 16, 2012 at 4:00PM • 1 hour 35 minutes

Merlin and Dan talk about returning to paleo, the nature of wieners and discouragement, crown vic habits and anxiety addiction.

You won't beat it without a cocktail of grit and care with just the right amount of sacrifice.


#53: The Wages of Security

February 7, 2012 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 55 minutes

In the most average episode ever, Merlin and Dan talk physical and digital work environments so you can get going in the right direction and don't have to spend all day on it.

And, when do you know you don't want 10 times more of something and what do you do about it? There's no guarantee of security, even if you show up sober, so start acting like an entrepreneur and choose what you want 10 times more of.


#52: Walk the Coastline, Bitches

January 31, 2012 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 16 minutes

TOPIC: The Hidden Cost is the True Cost

Merlin is back from MacWorldPipeiWorld to talk with Dan about the True Cost of iceberg lettuce, an anchor tenant, 20 minutes of your time, and how much of your life you're going to eat sand.

You don't have a TARDIS to make it back to pick up your kid or make it to Built to Spill so walk the coastline.


#51: Living Inside the Nonsense

January 24, 2012 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 22 minutes

TOPIC: Slipping on Dates, Sliding on Days

Merlin and Dan talk about managing projects, scheduling calls, and being home when you scheduled a party. It SEEMS SO SIMPLE but then Jeannie has to go to Guam and slipping is your SOP.

The way out of this quagmire is to admit you can't get out of it. You can't change a culture of slipping with a poster or a fairy princess. You have to fix the slides if you want to fix the slips.


#50: The Pork Soup Paradox

January 17, 2012 at 9:30PM • 1 hour 24 minutes

TOPIC: What to do if you fear a layoff.

Merlin and Dan talk about rumors of layoffs—when the fear gets you, and you start filing in the narrative with a panther, even if you're developing the best-of-breed cereal portal or have been in the newspaper's Accounts Payable department for 20 years.

What do you do at the fork in the road? Do you interview with The Bobs? Do you just grow up and ask what the hell's happening? Do you try to pray away the hurricane?

Or, do you just get tragically okay with being 10 times more terrified for 10 more years?

Yes: there are lessons from The Wire.