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.

#109: Two Paragraphs on Bourbon

March 5, 2013 at 2:15PM • 1 hour 25 minutes

TOPIC: Not So Much

This week, Dan and Merlin eschew ““topic”” to freely discuss razors, beef, They Might Be Giants, prolapse, Genesis, dogs, Spider-Man (and -Womyn), pretender marteenies, truck butt, the lonely plaster casts of our youth, blind harmonicists, those awesome blue IKEA bags, ceviche, E.L.O., Goldenberg's Peanut Chews, bumping, hypoglycemia, how Merlin named his daughter, Hyman Roth, endive, and, of course, The Big Lebowski.

Then, they go and blow it all by unintentionally having a really useful discussion about Merlin's three key elements of optimal and sustainable workflows.

#108: What Can I Spray?

February 26, 2013 at 4:00PM • 1 hour 28 minutes

TOPIC: Shaving a Yak

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about The Hierarchy of Fiddling. When does self-improvement silently shade into navel-gazing, and how do we realize that it's happening?

Some fixes mean applying a fast change that produces outsized results (a true "life hack"). But, most of our more circuitous excursions into the world of ““productivity”” lead straight into a recursive black hole of lost time, sheer frustration, and soul-sucking existential onanism (let's call that one a "life whack").

Learn how to live with your dirty debit card, just satisfice with your dish-washing skills, and quit trying to solve non-problems with non-solutions.

Yes, learn the key commands, but, don't feel like you need to learn all the key commands. Iterate with mindful sanity.

And, like it says on the tin: always focus on how you'll get back to work.

#107: Pull Out Your Dingus

February 19, 2013 at 6:45PM • 1 hour 22 minutes

TOPIC: Compression

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about compression. What happens when we don't account for how long something really takes to do? And, worse still, what if we don't think about what has to happen before we can even start it?

If you find you're stressed-out, over-scheduled, under-resourced—and not particularly loving the things you're making—there's a pretty good chance you've become a victim of your own compression.

Acknowledge and understand the problem, and then learn how to avoid the classic pitfalls by falling in love with your calendar all over again.

#106: Enough Candy to Last Forever

February 12, 2013 at 4:30PM • 1 hour 36 minutes

TOPIC: Duplicates, duplicates, duplicates.

This week, Dan and Merlin conclude their discussion of media management by focusing on dealing with duplicates. Just so many duplicates.

Music, Photos, Contacts, and Finder files. It's all thorny business, but a canny combination of backup, cool apps, and paranoid discretion can make your digital life more manageable and fun.

Also, some handy tips on sharing files, hosting media, and finding a digital home for your comic collection.

#105: Fissures of Men

February 5, 2013 at 2:30PM • 1 hour 24 minutes

TOPIC: Cool stuff Merlin loves.

This week, Merlin is delirious and may be in a fugue state, so he and Dan talk about a bunch of cool apps and gadgets--stuff that Merlin likes and really recommends.

Special attention goes to Drafts for iOS, the Logitech K760 Bluetooth keyboard, Verbatim's Tuff 'n Tiny USB drive, Cortex Camera for iOS, Cobook Address Book, with many more suggestions along the way, including handy tips based on how Merlin uses each.

#104: Grab Your Revolver

January 29, 2013 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 33 minutes

TOPIC: Modern Media Management: Metadata and Smart Playlists

This week Dan and Merlin continue their 3-part series on Modern Media Management: handling your iTunes Library, iOS Devices, and iTunes Match without making yourself crazy.

In this episode, the focus is on fixing audio metadata, with a big discussion of the awesome MusicBrainz and Picard.

#103: Lotta Little Knives

January 22, 2013 at 6:00PM • 1 hour 39 minutes

TOPIC: Modern Media Management: iTunes Match

This week Dan and Merlin begin a 3-part series on Modern Media Management: handling your iTunes Library, iOS Devices, and iTunes Match without making yourself crazy.

In this episode, they cover setting up and using iTunes Match, being safe and paranoid, what to do after you get the iTunes ping, some smart playlists that will help you exclude kwanzaa music, find stuff you don't want to listen to, and maintain your sanity.

Next episode they'll discuss wrangling metadata and smart playlists. Then in the last episode of the series, they'll cover managing the libraries on your devices and some grab bag stuff.

#102: Hunter Ready to Write

January 15, 2013 at 2:15PM • 57 minutes

TOPIC: Creative Costumes vs. Pushing Out Product

This week Dan and Merlin talk about how the legends and mythologies around creative people and beautiful losers can become such a destructive MacGuffin for us aspiring civilians.

Getting gakked out on Hunter S. Thompson's cocaine and buying Sylvia Plath's oven are unlikely to take you anyplace useful, interesting, or…creative.


#101: Sprinting Straight Into a Wall

January 8, 2013 at 3:00PM • 1 hour 29 minutes

TOPIC: Those New Years When We're Not Actually Resolved.

This week, Merlin and Dan step back from resolutions and shooting yourself in the face with a wrist rocket to talk about what you're actually trying to change.

You're failing and feeling bad and eating a whole bag of cookies because you're resolving to be someone you're not (yet). What are you really trying to address? Are you being honest with yourself? Where do you actually start?

Find the real reasons, build a real infrastructure, and build yourself a real habit.

#100: Go Ahead, Caller.

January 3, 2013 at 2:30PM • 1 hour 29 minutes

TOPIC: Yes. The caller is there.

This week, in celebration of their hundredth episode, Dan and Merlin do the first call-in episode of Back to Work.

A bevy of the beloved jackals and nerds ask questions about GTD, creative autonomy, sleep and energy, interpersonal work communications, moving up at work, self-publishing, finding your rabbi, Marines, X-Men, and more.