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.



#478: Morbidly Obese Clemenza

May 19, 2020 at 2:30PM • 1 hour 13 minutes

DISCUSSED: discussion of The Freshman and thoughts on what makes a movie "hold up"; has anyone ever craved a three-star movie?; what Merlin really wants is a smart friend; Dan is enjoying On Becoming a God in Central Florida; the difficulty of making weird good; I didn't buy it a beer; your mask is not a case for your beard; Dan has follow-up on bikes; Merlin has follow-up on companies and WFH help; thoughts on what we know and don't know about the difficulties of ““reopening””; the benefits and challenges of being a chain-worrying project manager; praise for the Austin Grackles.


#477: The Immediacy Filter

May 12, 2020 at 12:15PM • 1 hour 14 minutes

DISCUSSED: Here we are in Spain; a lot went on behind the scenes of The Wizard of Oz; also Modern Problems existed; further discussion of 80s movies; they used to make more movies; B-MO gets a show?; secrets of the child whisper network; Saturday morning memories; C19 is making a lot of holes and gaps in kids' lives; what even is the deal with colleges?; wisdom from the great Kevin Kelly; it's one thing to know something, but it's another thing to know something; and, finally, beginning to explore how best to level resources and expectations as many of us work from home.


#476: Paul Williams Sat Alone

May 5, 2020 at 12:30PM • 1 hour 23 minutes

DISCUSSED: Dan has concerns!; every road has many parts, but you seriously need to show your humanity; stop signs are really just velocipede serving suggestions; not all wood floats; too soon; an ambitious crossover is proposed; Cormac McCarthy rules; Phillip W. Battery sure has a lot going on for a busy and attentive new dad; as a main topic, your hosts bounce off a terrific recent episode of Merlin's beloved You're Wrong About; hey, what B2W-ish lessons can be drawn from the response to the Y2K "bug"?; ultimately, it is just so hard to solve one problem without potentially creating five other problems; memories of New Year's Eve, 1999; for once, Dan wasn't concerned at all; more praise for YWA, and a humble apology to Sarah; hey, listen, don't be ashamed to find delight; praise for Slugline 2; a recommendation for a James Franco movie.


#475: ¿Why Not Dos Otros?

April 28, 2020 at 1:45PM • 1 hour 13 minutes

DISCUSSED: Merlin is having a strange day, and Dan notices everything; please remember that fear and stress and anxiety are pretty terrible motivators; praise for On Becoming a God in Central Florida and 1Password; security theater vs. security reality; Dan's new mouse is as quiet as a…what's the word?; Brushing with Hardest Available Toothbrush Considered Harmful; Dan is gently exposing his son to one of the great films. So what?; a couple great pieces on making actual good passwords; recommendations for a Sondheim special and a terrific YouTube guy; extensive advice and suggestions for a listener moving to a Mac; learning almost anything is a lot like learning The Metric System; and, finally, praise for the great Peter N. Lewis.


#474: The Confidence to Keep Pedaling

April 21, 2020 at 5:00PM • 1 hour 6 minutes

DISCUSSED: our perception of value is definitely personal and maybe even a little generational; sometimes, the only thing you can afford is the best; a listener question about where your hosts are with comics; further praise for TaskPaper; updates on macOS text editing; Merlin capitulates to Catalina; Dan answers a listener question about coping with chronic back pain; learning how to stop rehearsing frailty by embracing the wonders of momentum.


#473: French on Tom Sawyer

April 14, 2020 at 2:45PM • 1 hour 12 minutes

DISCUSSED: Dan loves it when things just work and so does Merlin; Dan is composting, and Merlin is down to clown; ¡repita después de mi!; massive real-time follow-up; playing with iBeacons; excellent follow-up and notes from listeners; many reccomendations; memories of Grad Night; this is a very silly one.


#472: Sunday Afternoon Feeling

April 7, 2020 at 2:00PM • 1 hour 18 minutes

TW: very brief mention of suicide around minute 24.

DISCUSSED: a classic three-act episode! Expertise is difficult to explain—let alone to teach; the Sunday Scaries are real; it's an interesting (and surprising) time for people with anxiety and depression; let's keep trying to give each other a break; some follow-up on Descript and the One-Drawer Project; You Look Nice Today is back; finally, Dan has some tips on surviving working from home.


#471: One-Drawer Project

March 31, 2020 at 1:30PM • 1 hour 6 minutes

In this very intimate episode, Dan and Merlin share some ideas for positive yet do-able projects to improve your life and world in these dumb, scary times.

Also, covered in this episode: recommendations for Max Richter's Sleep and an insane new podcast production app called "Descript".


#470: Battery Car Man

March 24, 2020 at 5:30PM • 57 minutes

Difficult times and the Venn overlap between anxiety and OCD. Hang in there, everybody.


#469: Israel, Jr.

March 17, 2020 at 2:15PM • 1 hour 18 minutes

DISCUSSED: “CATS — Now and Forever!”; BokBok.wtf; on civic responsibility; Dan browses worms, and Merlin finds him a spider; Dan wants some keyboard advice, and Merlin just needs a ride; some thoughts on engaging versus escaping right now; praise for Danny Elfman and Oingo Boingo; suggestions for leveraging the wonder of libraries today; Dan is working on a big Minecraft project, also some listener letters.