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.



#320: Log Cabin Portal

April 25, 2017 at 3:45PM • 1 hour 49 minutes

TOPIC: Triangles Everywhere!

This week, Dan and Merlin shuck and/or jive about stealing, Publix, airlines, driver’s ed, douchebagerié, Twitter bots, and more.

Main topic this week is a question from Listener Brian about project management. Merlin expounds at length at this dark art and what it can teach us about life.


#319: Contract with the Universe

April 11, 2017 at 3:45PM • 1 hour 26 minutes

TOPIC: Oh my GOD, this is torture.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about—amongst other odds and sods— the Mean FedEx Guy, the weird future of gig economies, and Adventure Time.

Then, there's some handy tips on how to leverage iOS Accessibility settings for a better and more efficient experience on your device.

Listener Michelle writes in to ask about dealing with colleagues who use the hallway as an ad hoc one-on-one meeting. What strategies can we employ to be civil and collegial about careless interruptions without lowering our standards or losing our minds?


#318: Emotional Goggles

April 5, 2017 at 5:00PM • 1 hour 12 minutes

After some brief shucky-jivey, the boys resign themselves to discussing the big Apple announcement. They ponder why and how the message was delivered in the way it was as well as what it means. Dan has thoughts on modularization and Merlin reveals a new unified field theory.

Then, yay, lots more responses to excellent questions from listeners.


#317: Zero Gun Salute

March 31, 2017 at 2:00PM • 1 hour 20 minutes

After some very important follow-up, and more than a little shucking and jiving, your hosts answer questions from listeners.

This is a good one!


#316: Corona MacGuffin

March 21, 2017 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 11 minutes

This week, Dan and Merlin have one of their beloved "odds and sods" episodes. Something for everyone in this diverse and bewildering episode.

"Same day delivery!"


#315: The Nakamichi Deal

March 14, 2017 at 3:45PM • 1 hour 36 minutes

TOPIC: "Delivery Attempted."

This week, Merlin struggles with his coffee-making options, and Dan recalls his days of fishing lures. USPS deliveries, several TV shows, and Wolverine's disturbing bone claws are also discussed.

Listener Jackson writes in to ask about dealing with failings of self-discipline.


#314: Which Fellini You Want to Be

March 7, 2017 at 5:00PM • 1 hour 41 minutes

TOPIC: "Remember this film is supposed to be a comedy."

This week: Dan struggles with his progressive lenses, but he really liked the movie, Logan. Merlin's daughter has made four piles, and he finally accepts that he really should be watching more movies for his "work." Then, there's follow-up on that crazy S3 typo and some pretty poor Oscars® OPSEC.

Then we're on to answering listener feedback via two futurist hats and a parenting hat:

  • Listener Andrew, on self-driving cars and the mainstreaming of ponderous tech punditry.
  • Listener Jason, on whether a future of voice computing will become a sociopathic blight.
  • Listener Mark, on where the heck to find reasonable resources on better parenting.


#313: Parents, Old People, and Perverts

February 28, 2017 at 3:30PM • 1 hour 34 minutes

TOPIC: You can't perfect life.

This week opens with the carnage of today's Amazon S3 problems and why so much of the internet seems broken. A brief history of outage monitoring is provided and a praxis for improving the process is proposed.

Dan and Merlin debate what can be learned from how kids and other non-olds use technology "wrong." Should they be learning from us or should we be learning from them?

This leads to some deeper ruminations on how we can choose to get better at doubting our own perceptions and correcting our own weird thinking. The future still isn't here yet—and that's kinda what makes it the future.

After some discussion of mental health and creativity, the show pivots into yet more discussion of emerging technology, and how it consistently scares the crap out of people until…it just doesn't.

Dan and Merlin wrap by answering a listener's question about whether it's better to be good at writing or at speaking.


#312: Snake Eating Its Own Goodwill

February 21, 2017 at 4:00PM • 1 hour 38 minutes

TOPIC: You're living in the future!

This week, Merlin is in a bit of a tizzy as he tries to make coffee, redo his ads, and change his productivity system at the same time. Todoist and the evolving landscape of task apps are discussed. Dan likes Trello and Merlin likes tearing everything down and maybe just starting over.

iPhone call ID and blocking apps get the treatment and Merlin has some recommendations.

Dan has some questions about comics, and the boys reminisce about The Simpsons. As you do.

Things get a little dark as your hosts look at deploying web ad (and tracker) blocking as survival and safety OPSEC.

This leads to the donning of Futurist Hats and some subsequent speculation about the unfathomable things we might expect from our devices in the coming years.


#311: A Fair Eight

February 14, 2017 at 4:15PM • 1 hour 13 minutes

TOPIC: Alice hopes to hear from you.

This week's episode is packed—literally, packed—with useful tips, tricks, and even a crazy challenge.

Psyching yourself into falling asleep, learning how to breathe, using your iPhone's secret trackpad, and a gauntlet thrown (or maybe dropped?) to make yourself do everything with your voice for a day.