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.

#459: Alley Oop to Yourself in the Future

January 7, 2020 at 1:15PM • 1 hour 8 minutes

Merlin needs help in the NOC; Dan discovers sensitive sauce; there are thresholds; hurting your roller skating muscles; new printer; and, finally, Merlin conducts a long exploration of unnecessary efficiencies, evolved technologies, and the minimum viable productivity system.

#458: 2 Fury 2 Road

December 31, 2019 at 12:30PM • 1 hour 12 minutes

For this very special end of the century, fin de siècle episode, Dan and Merlin make bespoke personal recommendations for music, podcasts, apps, TV shows, YouTube videos, and gadgets.

#457: A Buddhist Gift

December 24, 2019 at 5:00PM • 1 hour 23 minutes

DISCUSSED: holiday lizard talk; some benefits of using "Environment" and "Journal" calendars; nostalgia for the Palm family of products in general and Graffiti in particular; responses to listener letters about: finding a "hook" for a new habit, physical media follow-up, HomeKit dinguses, Markdown editors, the joys of the TaskPaper lifestyle, advice on recovering from a disruption, and, finally, some thoughts on the unexpected benefits of disruption.

#456: Urinal Cup

December 17, 2019 at 10:00PM • 1 hour 15 minutes

DISCUSSED: Dan presents a curious new bathroom project; some thoughts on OCD, procrastination, and empathy; praise for Fury Road, Inglourious Basterds, and Dunkirk; Dan has follow-up on his awesome new laptop and the state of Unix shells; Merlin makes the case for occasionally getting unused to things.

#455: Talc Mandala

December 10, 2019 at 4:30PM • 1 hour 12 minutes

DISCUSSED: Drafts for Mac is out!; check out Damon Lindelof on The Watch; suggestions for HomeKit power strips; and responses to listener letters on rediscovering the joys of physical media and getting started with addressing chronic pain.

#454: Enough Women Nation

December 3, 2019 at 1:00PM • 1 hour 8 minutes


  • the commercials you get in your head
  • listener feedback on music management
  • first results of Merlin's own deep dive on music management alternatives
  • thoughts on the "safety" that ends up making us less safe
  • the perverse magic of "ghoti"
  • thoughts on Dan's cool new laptop
  • getting the shell you want
  • sometimes Daddy needs to go in the closet

#453: Shoulder the Brunt

November 27, 2019 at 10:00AM • 1 hour 19 minutes

DISCUSSED: Merlin has an email confession; Dan steps up with a shoulder; listeners have given your hosts a season of the show; praise for HBO's Watchmen; a discussion of curating media for kids; Merlin exercises Personal Privilege; everybody is different!; praise for the new MacBook Pro (and who it may or may not be good for); the beginnings of what could be an extensive series on reclaiming control of your own media; some Plex homework for both listeners and your hosts; a brief rant on the downsides and limitations of renting other people's music; Merlin is birthday-gifted with Planty II plus some awesome @pants materials.

#452: Wine is My Travel Drink

November 19, 2019 at 5:00PM • 1 hour 27 minutes

  • updates on travel and packing
  • a new notebook Merlin likes
  • finding a notebook that accommodates both your brain and the shape of your day
  • Merlin's bespoke six-block notebook method
  • Dan struggles mightily with his hotel room
  • a notional badge for gauging lifetime exposure to a ubiquitous TV celebrity
  • some more travel talk, including the promise for a future dedicated episode on travel updates
  • a suggestion for trying iOS Voice Control
  • finally, in some detail, we return to Synology Corner

#451: I Am Not a Herpetologist

November 14, 2019 at 5:00PM • 1 hour 34 minutes

Our worst episode ever. Enjoy!

#450: Slow-Motion Hypocrisy

November 5, 2019 at 2:30PM • 1 hour 6 minutes

Dan is getting a Synology, Merlin has been making stuff, plus the return of "Cool Things I Learned This Week."