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.



#426: New Wave Night

May 14, 2019 at 2:15PM • 1 hour 28 minutes

DISCUSSED: Dan has a new setup, and Merlin randomly recommends a kids' book; your hosts remember too much; Dan realizes he took the wrong shop class, and Merlin realizes why Generation X was (and remains) mostly useless; Dan walks us through his new setup, and the boys talk about the joys of VNC; Merlin is excited about the new "Guard" functionality of the Amazon voice dingus; Ferris Bueller's Day Off is still very good; what is the sound of one Koan falling?; your hosts discuss an article proposing why everything should take 20 minutes; Merlin dives deep on his own longstanding use of this heuristic; this leads to some classic #productivity talk; there's some instamatic camera nostalgia; Dan has a new project, and you should maybe contact him; Once AGAIN!; the glory of Spirited Away is discussed; Dan recommends a good TV show for date night; and, finally, Dan and Merlin admit they'd probably watch basically anything about Watchmen.


#425: Off the Cushion

May 7, 2019 at 4:30PM • 1 hour 30 minutes

DISCUSSED: Dan explains what the photos he sends mean; Merlin encourages Dan to air a beef, and Dan kindly assents; Oh, boy, Windows! My old nemesis…Windows!; the Mac's interoperability glory days were amazing; it really sucks to watch a computer start up and start up and start up; ports confuse Merlin, who is now officially an old; Dan and Merlin talk about a few things they enjoyed watching on YouTube; Merlin has a recommendation for downloading internet videos (purely for educational reasons); Merlin also recommends a really good podcast episode about "data-driven parenting"; then, Merlin kinda pops off a little; hey, listen: you can rarely have benefits without risks (and kinda vice-versa); Dan's watching Deadwood again, and Merlin gets kinda excitable again and does lots of quotes for some reason; and, finally, Merlin has a super-tip about improving your results in Apple Health.


#424: A Roach Riding a Rat

April 30, 2019 at 1:30PM • 1 hour 13 minutes

DISCUSSED: the restorative tonic of a good night's sleep; a return to sleep as video game; it's okay to tweet your hosts about hoagies and Publix; concerns about butt cancer; Dan recommends a Netflix series; Merlin endorses Overcast clips; the difficulty of balancing user requests with reality; Merlin commends the deliberate simplicity of his daughter's spork; Merlin recommends a podcast; and, finally, your hosts respond to a listener's email about the therapeutic benefits of "controlling a small area."


#423: It Only Hurts for a Minute

April 23, 2019 at 1:15PM • 1 hour 28 minutes

DISCUSSED: Dan and Merlin get hungry, but they've had it with all the bread; the trough food is so costly; no one is sweating Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons; Marvel-ish movies are discussed, including the new one with Lady Sansa; Merlin is very concerned about aphasias; Dan introduces us to Forbidden Snacks and endorses his new shoe appliance; shoe appliances are then discussed; Dan hasn't had to use his sword…yet; people sure love them some pencils; there was some weather, so the seder got all fakakte; the finer points of Judaism and sundry Hebraica are clarified; Dan got scrolls-on-tape from a sympathetic cantor; Buster Scruggs is recommended; the boys receive a quick surprise visit from the great Tom Waits; and, finally, your hosts talk about a terrific YouTube video about what we can all learn from our worst trainwrecks.


#422: Magic Rub

April 16, 2019 at 2:00PM • 1 hour 10 minutes

DISCUSSED: Dan has just started a new pen; there's some pen, pencil, and eraser talk; Dan has an important anecdote about utilizing eraser-based people skills; Dan's iMac is working fine, but he's concerned about the poofs coming out of the balloon blower; Dan saw Venom and has some thoughts; Merlin commends a comic and a podcast and an app launcher; the evolution of computer interaction has rewired our brains; why do they have to make the print so small?; Merlin has songs in his head; and, finally, Merlin apologizes to Nick Fury.


#421: Black Dress Cowboy Boots

April 9, 2019 at 3:45PM • 1 hour 12 minutes

DISCUSSED: What we talk about when we talk about optimism; the power of "Act as Though"; on edibles; a YouTube recommendation, then more YouTube recommendations; how even do we tell YouTube what we never want to see again? HOW?!; the difficulty of sensible algorithms; the fascinating concept of "pareidolia"; Professor Shoelaces's extensive metatags; your hosts answer a listener's question about when to go physical versus when to go digital.


#420: Baby Thorin

April 3, 2019 at 8:00AM • 1 hour 7 minutes

DISCUSSED: Merlin is back on his old cans; Dan is pivoting to video; Cash stepped in paint, and kids are terrible storytellers; a book recommendation; a case for the Oxford comma, please and thank you; Dan starts asking for help with his new iMac; gross nickel–and-diming by Apple; praise for Southwest Airlines; Dan (finally) gets to finish asking for help with his new iMac; a cool new open source Mac video app; the Mac laptop keyboard problems ain't going away; Dan really likes Final Cut; Merlin fights with UPS, both on principle and as a game; Merlin thinks Dan's egg cooker rules.


#419: The Elephant in the Sword

March 26, 2019 at 2:00PM • 1 hour 42 minutes

DISCUSSED: allergy attack!; big anniversary today; elegy for Two Cats Comics; some D&D talk; Dan got a sword!; yet more D&D talk; key commands for line-moving; Dan got his YouTube URL back; a Theranos book recommendation; Dan almost got cast in a TV show; some observations and reckons about Apple's big Services event.


#418: This Man…This Monster!

March 19, 2019 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 13 minutes

DISCUSSED: Top o' the Morling!; praise for the home release of Spider-Verse; Dan and Merlin offer some more TV recommendations; Merlin endorses an excellent "turns out" podcast; a deep dive on slow-rise squishes and related stress toys; Merlin wears his childhood privilege on his sleeve.

Finally, the guys answer an excellent listener question about the complex work of maintaining a household with someone you love.


#417: Fish Bishop

March 12, 2019 at 1:00PM • 1 hour 10 minutes

DISCUSSED: Merlin is trying some new things and probably needs to adjust his DIP switches; audio equipment is discussed; remembering Hal Blaine; German words; fish dropsy; dining at Alamo Draft House; kids and crafts; follow-up on Power Puttering; recommending a Siracusa anecdote; recommending a philosophy podcast; recommending several cool products; some strong (if muddled) thoughts on the Michael Jackson documentary.