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.



#46: Not Counting the Mezzanine

December 20, 2011 at 5:00PM • 1 hour 23 minutes

Topic: The Meta-Distractions of "Minimalism"

This week, Merlin and Dan get all "Zen" about bias and minimalism. Your background won't get any blacker, so stop burning cycles arguing on the internet or worrying about what other people think or how minimal you are. It's not about the bird skeletons, lion skins or barefoot girls. Unless that's what works. Just make sure it really works. 


#45: Finagling the Tree Bag

December 13, 2011 at 5:45PM • 1 hour 9 minutes

Topic: The Narcissism of Small Differences

This week, Merlin has a quiz for Dan to determine whether Ben Franklin, "The Immigrant Song," or Quantum Mechanics has the most cultural impact--as well as his teasing out Dan's go-to for uninstalling Android apps.

Paying attention to the same degree you care goes nicely with keeping a sense of humor. Especially about those small differences regarding couch cushions, pink spaceships, and Sgt. Pepper's.

The answers are Moby Dick, Julian calendars, ZoSo, chigger bites, and--yes--The Greater Nerd Theory.


#44: Circuitous Bridge of My Own Design

December 7, 2011 at 7:30AM • 1 hour 13 minutes

Topic: Moving from dumb nouns to awesome verbs.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the problem with Capital Letter Nouns; how real and specific verbs will always trounce Excellence, Effectiveness, and Mission Statements--even in the Best-of-Breed Pursuance of Five-Nines Quality Across The Enterprise.

They also look at transitive and intransitive flavors of "feasance," finding your keyboard's Excellence Key, opting-in for The Johnson Treatment, lancing that actionable boil, and (as ever) shooting the obvious fish in the obvious barrel.


#43: I Return Null

November 30, 2011 at 8:30AM • 58 minutes

Topic: Asking questions in order to find better questions

This week, Dan and Merlin pick up their discussion of asking better questions and how sometimes the point of asking a question isn't to get an answer, but to get another, even better question.

How do you do this? Blundell Chains, hypotheses, the clackity noise, and iteration.


#42: Coconut Headphones

November 22, 2011 at 4:45PM • 1 hour 16 minutes

This week Dan and Merlin talk about asking good questions instead of massaging your real problem until it fits the comforting solution you found on the cover of a magazine.


#41: Carpal Tunnel Diem

November 15, 2011 at 6:00PM • 1 hour 21 minutes

Dan and Merlin talk more about why we get stuck and how might re-think getting "unstuck." Looking at process over product, remembering how you got here, and getting clear about what you're really trying to make.

Merlin also has some updates and tips for your iTunes Matching and your Google searching.


#40: Dirty South Is Off the Menu

November 8, 2011 at 8:15PM • 1 hour 39 minutes

Dan and Merlin talk about what it means for Google to change the meaning of "plus," and how it might bolster the production of "stuff and needy."

They also consider options for "getting unstuck" with a creative project—how, sometimes, the constraints can help a lot more than the options.


#39: A Source of Rice with Velocity

November 1, 2011 at 5:15PM • 1 hour 20 minutes

On strength and tolerance.

Dan and Merlin talk about the many facets of strength, including the complexity of knowing what to be strong about, to whom, and when.

It's about way more than nailing the "clean and jerk" or yelling at Sips-His-Coffee-Really-Loud Guy. It's also about accepting all the things they just can't stand about you.

Also covered: the inescapability of Italian disco, maintaining an unassailable lawn, confronting skinny ladies in heels, negotiating D-minus hip-hop, and finding the will to spelunk all the way down the personal productivity stack.


#38: Sorry. You Can't Have a Candle.

October 25, 2011 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 19 minutes

On improving presentation culture.

Dan and Merlin talk about bombing the deck, advancing the slides, and striving to improve the self-perpetuating bad culture of presentations.

Slide?!?

(Also, kid germs in the spaghetti, meeting the angry corn guy, and moving closer to the metal with our Showbot hero.)


#37: It's Never Not Everywhere

October 18, 2011 at 4:00PM • 2 hours 4 minutes

This week, Merlin loves and hates iCloud while loving and REALLY loving Dropbox. He and Dan observe angry corn, discuss emailing files to yourself, wonder what to do with an ugly photo, and explore Mr. Noodle's brother, Mr. Noodle.