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.



#443: Immediate Electric Smugness

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

DISCUSSED: Merlin has a cool new voice from talking to friends late last night; Dan has an automotive collision anecdote, while Merlin has thoughts on how preparation fails us in extreme moments; in follow-up, Listener Steve has terrific advice on dealing with bad hotel room technology; your hosts love insider information from pilots and other category pros; Dan ordered a watch, and Merlin is apparently not actually wrecking a plane; the guys respond to listener letters about ages of people in movies, Dan's world-destroying Disney fact (that he can't remember), plus a listener's concern about company password hygiene; and finally, Dan has great news about refreshing an iMac, but less great news about household password hygiene.


#442: Dog Eating Chair Digestion

September 10, 2019 at 3:45PM • 1 hour 13 minutes

Dan and Merlin discuss the upcoming big Apple event and why this one's potentially interesting. Also, dog anecdotes.


#441: Boggle, Boggle!

September 3, 2019 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 43 minutes

  • hurricanes!
  • hyperactivity
  • exposing kids to the canonical films
  • that weird, affected Hollywood accent
  • a name for that time comparison phenomenon
  • making your voice interactions more fun
  • catching up on the Platinum Age of TV
  • dealing with device charging at scale


#440: It's Never Been About the Suit

August 27, 2019 at 4:30PM • 1 hour 38 minutes

Lots of talk about the changing media landscape, plus some odds and sods.


#439: Servant of the Red Badge

August 20, 2019 at 5:00PM • 1 hour 30 minutes

DISCUSSED: finding an actor's age and height; time analogies; Merlin needs help naming two critical phenomena; Dan is dissatisfied with how cars look; could Wolverine get a Caillou tattoo, and would it grow back, hmmmm?; Merlin is getting into plants (no, not sexually); the return of that time when Danny held the license plate; and finally, Merlin has a long stemwinder on an admittedly amorphous topic: the unimpeachable benefits of undoing most of the buttons we've clicked.


#438: The Mashed Potatoes Need You

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

DISCUSSED: Merlin has a little visitor today. Dan has some thoughts on conference scheduling. This leads to a broader discussion of the sensitivities we may or may not have to other peoples' limitations and constraints. It's nice to meet people.

For some reason, religion, churches, and clergy are discussed. "This is what Peter did say!"

Finally, the guys answer a listener question about working from home. Merlin poses a challenge.


#437: The Credit Section

August 6, 2019 at 2:45PM • 1 hour 5 minutes

Dan and Merlin explore the complexities of personal style. Not personal style as in fashion, but as in preferences, identity, and modes of interaction. How do we let others know how we are?

How do we derive a sense of what works best for us, and why is it such a shameful struggle to effectively communicate that to others? What do AirPods, Snapchat, and Bloomberg Terminals potentially have in common?

And, would it be cool if I just listen to this podcast instead of talking about my blouse and the weather?


#436: Better Than a Lipstick

July 30, 2019 at 4:00PM • 1 hour 10 minutes

DISCUSSED: the admirable candor of B.B. King; the simple joys of the Ordinary Night; movies that are or are not dated and how that affects your enjoyment; how sci-fi seemed to mostly miss the internet; our embarrassment of media options; tech in media and what it means for plot stuff; technology adoption curves are definitely speeding up; doing everything you can not to use your phone as a phone; more generational stuff; how time and context changes our perception; should they take all the smoking out of movies and tv?; remember: you're not making errors—you're adding information; and, finally, Dan has an exciting announcement and a wet notebook.


#435: Scanner of Horizons

July 23, 2019 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 14 minutes

DISCUSSED: kindness; eyeglasses, at length—including eyeglasses indignities, discounts, and injuries; a renewed surfeit of dingalings, fake friends, and a dumb podcast hit piece; and, finally, your hosts respond to a listener question on getting stressed about personal quantization.


#434: Grist for an Unnecessary Mill

July 16, 2019 at 1:00PM • 1 hour 13 minutes

Show notes are short this week because Merlin had to go buy contrast paints for his figs.

Main topic is speculating about speculation.