Back to Work

Back to Work

United States

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 & Dan Benjamin.


312: Snake Eating Its Own Goodwill  

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  

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.

310: Nominally Mine  

TOPIC: My place is here—I fight with you! This week, Dan and Merlin cover a meetup announcement, Merlin's Les Mis obsession, Dan's new Hackintosh Method, and the Benjamin Family's slippery bar problem. Merlin advocates for "The Tiny Life Improvement Project." Pens and pencils are recommended, desks are discussed, and LBJ speaks out about his bespoke slack needs. The boys talk about the FTC's actions over Vizio's super-creepy user tracking, and wonder what questions to ask about the future of privacy on our smart devices. Things wrap with a quick discussion of culture-specific cargo culting and why we still cut the ends off the roast.

309: Hard Pass  

TOPIC: Celebrating your successful failures. This week, Dan and Merlin kick off with discussion of night bears, the ascendance of Netflix, and some very nice emails from listeners. Merlin also shares an important life hack for Twitter. Merlin brings in a new thought technology via Jen Kirkman guesting on John Moe's wonderful podcast, The Hilarious World of Depression: learning how to talk back to the voices in your head. Dan gives some big updates to his (theoretical) project to build a (theoretical) Hackintosh. Huge week. Finally, Merlin shares a thought on how to potentially find success in your miniature failures. What happens when you decide to keep doing something not because you want to succeed at it…but just because it's a thing that you do?

308: When Does the Fork Go on the Sat?  

TOPIC: Act like you're somebody that you like. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the evolution of voice recognition and touch interfaces and reminisce on the early days of making the turtle move. Dan brings in the topic of how fears of both failure and success lead to missed opportunities. Your hosts talk about how to track down the nagging bad feelings about these regrets and troubleshoot what we can learn from them. Merlin talks about recently returning to “Morning Pages,” what he’s learning from doing it, as well as some tips to help you get started with doing your own daily brain dump.

307: #43 on The Ladder of Kindness  

TOPIC: Youth is the aberration. This week, Dan provides updates on his Hackintosh project, which leads to a discussion of finding reviews and advice with context. The hosts realize, acknowledge, and quickly move past their program’s 6th anniversary, spending more time on that drum sound Merlin makes with his mouth. Recent email pitches are discussed, and advice is offered on smarter ways to pitch strangers on practically anything. Merlin responds to a question from a listener about learning to find inspiration in the absence of crisis.

306: Sunday Pant  

TOPIC: Reframing the conversation with yourself. This week, Merlin talks about his weird mortgage ads and compliments the literally fancy pants he got from the silver underpants people. Suggestions are offered for running a dehumidifier in a “smart home.” Dan and Merlin have a lot to say about terlets (hey, it’s been a while). Merlin shares a service for intelligently correlating personal tracking data, a listener has success with some B2W email advice, and another listener asks for tips on doing better self-talk. Dan shares his cool new project to build a Hackintosh.

305: Quadruple Down  

TOPIC: This is a feeling I'm feeling. This week, your hosts look at the announcement of Dish's new Air TV box, along with the rapidly evolving landscape for cord-cutters. Also, fantasies of monk holes are entertained. The big topic this week is a discussion of a listener's question about the role of positive thinking. [This is a good one.]

304: The 2016 Compilation Episode  

This is the Best of 2016 Compilation Episode, featuring your favorite moments of the show over the last 12 months. Each clip was suggested and submitted by you, our amazing listeners. Have a great new year!

303: A Liver Runs Through It  

TOPIC: Is Tim firing us? This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the challenge of dealing with email that's only kind of from a real person. There's some follow-up on Apple and wishing they'd just give us a "Get out of here!" Merlin recommends some podcasts and a terrific new clipboard manager from Tapbots. Dan talks about why he finally gave in and treated his eyes to a bigger phone. Just don't get him started on progressive lenses.

302: Rabbi for the Rabbi  

This week, the boys talk about slicing sand, unboxing videos, Overwatch, and some recommended TV viewing. Odds and sods, as you say. Main topic is follow-up re: listener feedback on recent Apple conversations.

301: Not on My Timeline  

TOPIC: Vaio Life! This week, Dan and Merlin respond to listener feedback and talk about the tightrope walk of caffeine consumption. Merlin suggests a new AudioDharma talk, which leads to a discussion of whether you have to be an X to learn about Y. Spoiler Alert: you don't. Dan updates us on his son's hot new gaming PC, and your hosts can't stop themselves from ruminating (again, again) on why Apple's hardware choices feel be so frustrating…and disappointing.

300: A Room Where I Don’t Matter  

TOPIC: Kipple and Boomboxes This week Dan and Merlin start by talking about purging junk and answering listener feedback about kids and phones and teachers dealing with email. Main topic this week is whither Apple? Based on how the company is evolving, who do we think their future products will be for?

299: Unhook from the Comparison  

TOPIC: Your "backstage" vs. their "onstage" This week, Merlin shares some useful thoughts (via Patrick Rothfuss) on being careful about how we compare ourselves to others. The hosts also share some terrific listener suggestions for fantasy books for kids. Also, Dan has strong feelings about poultry.

298: Night Boot for Big Beef  

This week, Dan and Merlin do another of their beloved Odds 'n Sods episodes, with tons of great recommendations for movies, TV, apps, services, and nighttime medical appliances.

297: It Takes Craftspersonship  

This week, Dan and Merlin are a little out of sorts, so, after some chat and followup, they talk about some of the things that make them happy. Plus, awesome Mac key commands.

296: Surely You Can't be Sirius  

TOPIC: Leaving Dropbox Vegas Merlin survives a sleepover, and Dan has a concern about Dropbox.

295: I’m Not Talkin’ for Clapping  

Dan's still a little under the weather What home automation is good at right now (and what it mostly isn't) Updates on Hiya and call-blocking apps not working so much Merlin is getting pretty good at making Trump hands Hey! Follow-up and listener questions! Listener Greg wisely reframes the communication problem If you want to help people: offer something specific John Siracusa just wants toast in a reasonable amount of time Listener Johnathan has trouble getting timely responses from his busy manager Tip: It pays to ask around and maybe escalate Everybody feels vulnerable about something Listener Brian doesn't want to pester people about his side project Tip: Scale up and act like a magazine editor Ooooo…The Monty Hall Problem! Listener Matt needs tips on being a new dad Tip: You're not as bad at this as you think (or fear)

294: Sufficiently Advanced Friendship  

TOPIC: How to pester people responsibly. Dan's a little under the weather. Maybe kids should be in balls. Who knows? "Wrap a hot towel around your head." Westworld. It's definitely a thing. Follow-up… TaskPaper 3.5 is awesome. Yes. There are good board games. Sorry about that. How Merlin made Candyland more interesting. But only a little. Followup on smoke detectors. What a mess! More advice on covering up dumb LED lights. Merlin has an amazing rice cooker. Harry Potter talk. Movies we like, etc. Cool new Harry Potter prints. MAIN TOPIC: How to pester people responsibly. Trouble getting a response: what's the real problem here? Merlin learned a lot from being an unsuccessful project manager. If your results are at odds with your expectations? Something isn't working. Dan talks about his new interest in informal journaling. Writing is a 3D printer for your thoughts.

293: The Frame for Our Relationship  

TOPIC: The Minimum Viable Waste of Time. Some awesome odds and sods, a great new Markdown editor for OS X, and a main topic on dealing with those aggressive email follow-up people. Dan's Concern™ regarding his annoying smoke detectors Why things seem to get worse and more diverse Evaluate the credulity of Amazon reviews with Fakespot Scary edge cases for Samsung Note fires Cary's great DNS switching trick Merlin is loving Typora, a clever and powerful new desktop Markdown editor Pandoc does many file conversion things Homebrew makes Mac package management a doddle Brett Terpstra's Markdown Service Tools are essential TableFlip is a cool app for making and editing Markdown tables Fountain and Slugline are awesome for Markdown-like screenplay writing Also, hey. Editorial for iOS can totally handle Fountain files. Turns out! Merlin and Dan are still really liking iOS 10 It's definitely worth the time to prune your iOS notifications Main Topic: How should we deal with all those "just circling back" people? iPhone spam call blocker Hiya seems to be working now

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