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.



#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.


#468: Cancellation Christmas

March 9, 2020 at 4:00PM • 1 hour 11 minutes

DISCUSSED: heck, yeah, there's a lot of uncertainty; the woeful knock-on effects of COVID-19, from SxSW to presidential handshaking; Dan graciously accepts Merlin's apology; it's so important that you not touch the fish's face; Dan's Podcast Method is back, baby; you can tell an ecosystem is healthy when the advice about it diversifies; Dan explains the Kelvin Timeline and why he hates it; a Celebration of Bones emerges; Merlin is intrigued by Otter and a little unsure about Jumbo; Dan wants you to know it's still him; breaking handshake news; the boys get a nice letter from a listener; Merlin kinda busts a gut about where his head was at when Back to Work launched; audio is afoot; recommended starter episodes are offered; and, finally, praise for Lost and Japanese Queer Eye.


#467: I Loved My Garden

March 3, 2020 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 15 minutes

DISCUSSED: Merlin's uvula thing is back; some handy one-liner suggestions; the boys are loving uBar, and this leads to a dive on how they use the macOS Dock; praise for Witch; Ultraman is back, baby!; 500,000° is very, very hot; some nebulous, initial thoughts about a bracing call to focus on doing the work (and not how it looks to others when you're doing the work); a listener letter on alternatives for music hosting and streaming in the Apple ecosystem; wow, hard drives sure got super-cheap, huh?; nostalgia for those awesome old Jasmine BacPac hard drives; and, finally, a listener needs your help finding good episodes about surviving and thriving while working in a corporate environment.


#466: The Maturation of Pillow Forts

February 25, 2020 at 12:00PM • 1 hour 18 minutes

DISCUSSED: Skype steals focus, and Merlin ate your poem; music is pretty great; some odds and sods and recommendations; everyone should have a bell; learning to trust your system (and yourself); listener mailbag; Dan loves his new backpack; more on bulwarks against madness.