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.


330: Frowny Face for You  

TOPIC: Drawing effective water. In this week's tight and bright episode, Dan and Merlin do dome followup on food bars and CBD oil, then discuss how to get better at letting people just enjoy what they like. In this week's main topic, your hosts address how to think more productively (and more realistically) about what you need from a task management app.

329: Stop all the OTUS  

TOPIC: Thirty cable boxes. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about beloved late night talk shows, Planet of the Apes, and the future of TV. Dan introduces his new thought technology about "Protoforms." Your hosts also respond to listener questions about using Chromecasts and how to start the day.

328: Donkey in a Biscuit  

TOPIC: Asterisks and Question Marks. This week, Dan and Merlin cover corgis (and other pets), asking for lettuce wraps, high-floor sandwiches, bread in a tube, John Wick (no spoilers), and the wonderful comic infographics of Kate Willaert. There is some ecosystem talk regarding ride sharing statistics and Apple's announced addition of podcast listening analytics. How many bits of identifying information are you sending? Your hosts answer Listener Tim's question about when to accept that you can't do everything and should just let go of old project ideas.

327: Slightly Semitic Bird  

TOPIC: She was only 15 years old! This week kicks off with some thoughts on yesterday's WWDC Keynote and some potentially promising signs for Apple's future. Dan declares YouTube videos from The Trip to be the greatest thing Merlin has ever shown him, and he is correct. Merlin is infatuated with Nebo. Then, the boys answer listener questions about calendars, GTD and Buddhism, and how to choose a browser.

326: The Ronald McDonald of Feeds  

TOPIC: "The results have been increbidle." This week, Dan and Merlin opine about various Apple feelings and wondering where the heck things are going. Merlin is sanguine. Merlin is mad at KFC, and Dan reminds us how great 1974 was for movies. Finally, your hosts respond to listener feedback.

325: The Real Celebrity Chefs of the Hollywood Hills  

TOPIC: Again with the motivation. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about what motivates the companies who make set-top boxes vs. the providers of the content for those dinguses. What attracts fans to a given platform, and why are we getting so resistant to straight-up buying movies and TV shows? ("I learned it by watching you!") In listener feedback, your hosts examine whether and how various apps and services can be deployed in the service of building better habits.

324: Delivery Status Not Updated  

TOPIC: Odds 'N Sods In this sprawling "odds 'n sods" episode, Dan and Merlin discuss: superheroes, scary movie trailers, (yes, more) egregious package delivery drama, customer service Buddhism, some excellent kids books, updates on the pretty good Hulu Live TV service, commercials for prescription drugs, politics and blood pressure, the joys of, auditing your online authorizations, why are jackals, spray-on hair, delivery tracking services, and, yes, some deep updates on emails pitching visits from guests.

323: A Horse Named Chili  

TOPIC: Lady in a tube. This week, Dan and Merlin unexpectedly end up doing a pretty deep dive on Amazon voice products and the evolving ecosystem around them. Which is way more interesting than it sounds. Deep dive.

322: The Passive Voice of Water  

TOPIC: Curiosity before fear. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the experience of Apple stores and repairs, The Handmaid's Tale, Dan's invertebrate-sensing skills, and some follow-up on "look left, go left." Listener Molly asks about how to become a morning person, and Listener Lance wants help with the anxiety of moving someplace new.

321: Need Some Velocity  

TOPIC: Velocity! This week Dan and Merlin talk about lice, Kenny Rogers, strange memory phenomena, an intriguing new oil, and popcorn nugs pricing. A question from Listener Ben leads to suggestions for finding velocity.

320: Log Cabin Portal  

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  

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  

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  

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  

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  

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  

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  

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  

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.

Video player is in betaClose