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 & Dan Benjamin.


  • 530: Nouns in America

    530: Nouns in America

    11/05/2021 Duration: 01h07min

    DISCUSSED: Merlin has been cracking nuts, and Dan is enjoying a beverage; in Follow-Up, Dan has made great progress with his new voice assistant; Merlin has thoughts on choosing a dingus ecosystem that’s right for you; words mean things, and often you want the right “procedure word”; Merlin has some good Back to Work-adjacent media recommendations; do we really want to rebuild The Embarcadero Freeway? Really?; and, Dan has some new scholarship on the films of Stanley Kubrick.

  • 529: Different Flavors of Fear

    529: Different Flavors of Fear

    04/05/2021 Duration: 01h26min

    DISCUSSED: Dan is actively gaslighting Merlin, and this can be proven; please stop stealing focus; praise for Ferris Bueller in general and the knees of Sloane Peterson in particular; passing thoughts on fear, procrastination, impostor syndrome, and solving the right problem; Merlin is delighted to discover a much-improved Little Snitch; Dan has thoughts on his Ford’s weird button; in gadget updates, Dan has found some useful headphones and has thoughts on trying to use his new Google dingus; finally, just in general, try to keep your hands away from the dragon’s mouth.

  • 528: Half a Parachute

    528: Half a Parachute

    27/04/2021 Duration: 01h30min

    Merlin has a whole new setup, and Dan has a whole new TV.

  • 527: Classic Mentos Situation

    527: Classic Mentos Situation

    20/04/2021 Duration: 01h04min

    DISCUSSED: Merlin is reporting live from the show floor; sleep is complicated; food is complicated, too; Dan tries to build muscles the right way; he also has strong feelings about TV shopping; Merlin just wants someone to tell him which is The Good One.

  • 526: Above-Average Practices

    526: Above-Average Practices

    13/04/2021 Duration: 01h33s

    DISCUSSED: some important movie follow-up; films (and other media) can be a powerful way to talk about things we aren't supposed to be talking about; Merlin has some links to help think about what comes next as we get back to ““normal""; plus, follow-up on Dan's Kindle journey, including some really useful tips.

  • 525: The Pollution of Modernity

    525: The Pollution of Modernity

    06/04/2021 Duration: 01h30min

    DISCUSSED: fake southern accents lead to some movie talk; Merlin apologizes; Dan does not want to spend a night in The Box; please utilize the restroom that conforms to the color of your gender; a guardsman pitches Merlin's wife; Merlin goes off on a surprisingly long tangent on kung fu movies--especially the work of The Great Gordon Liu; Dan needs a syllabus to get Cash even more into Godzilla movies; there are some words on DC movies; your hosts begin a dive into the Kindle ecosystem that turns into a dive into ""The Kindle Ecosystem""; Friend-of-the-Show, Moisés, provides some beneficial real-time follow-up regarding the king of monsters; Merlin needs some movie backstory but also wants wants to make it extremely clear that he is very attracted to an English actress.

  • 524: The Silver Linings Guy

    524: The Silver Linings Guy

    30/03/2021 Duration: 01h33min

    DISCUSSED: iOS has gotten really good; still, there's some Apple stuff we'd love to see get better; some Covid updates; anxiety and OCD in these fraught times; finally, Dan and Merlin need your advice for some networking upgrades.

  • 523: My Fingers Know It

    523: My Fingers Know It

    23/03/2021 Duration: 01h22min

    DISCUSSED: DST and rebooting sleep; some quick documentary talk; a challenging H.R. Giger poster; updates on sane prepping, looking at some interesting sources for electric power; on rational prepping; oh, boy, fatbergs; and, finally, a quick dive into the joys of "The Everything Button" and the myriad benefits of learning the key commands.

  • 522: Where All the Memories Go

    522: Where All the Memories Go

    16/03/2021 Duration: 01h27min

    Diving deep on the power of infrastructure. Yes, for you, too.

  • 521: Nozzle Tov

    521: Nozzle Tov

    09/03/2021 Duration: 01h06min

    DISCUSSED: Merlin has a lot to say about fizzy water and the drugs of Florida; someone please help Dan get his old Twitter name; talking recent media and deciding when a kid is "ready" for it; some Marvel talk; Jack Kirby ruled; finally, hey, tell us what you'd like to hear on topics related to preparation and infrastructure.

  • 520: Preemptive Punishment Food

    520: Preemptive Punishment Food

    02/03/2021 Duration: 01h09min

    Preparing isn't just for preppers. But, how do you incorporate scope and infrastructure without turning into a nut?

  • 519: Designated Toilet

    519: Designated Toilet

    23/02/2021 Duration: 01h11min

    DISCUSSED: Dan has updates on Texas's recent weather events and the unanticipated cascading effects on complex and interconnected infrastructures; then, for dessert, your hosts explore the delights and insights of the "isolated tracks" rabbit hole.

  • 518: 10% of a Headache

    518: 10% of a Headache

    16/02/2021 Duration: 01h11min

    DISCUSSED: As The Lone Star state struggles with a surfeit of anomalous weather events, your hosts dig into the challenges inherent to all sorts of complex, interconnected systems.

  • 517: How Daddy Make That Paper

    517: How Daddy Make That Paper

    09/02/2021 Duration: 01h08min

    DISCUSSED: Doing pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good; Dan discovers a shark is menacingly circling one of his product names; there's a reason Merlin is not in the corner office; your hosts fondly recall the Avon products of their youth; Dan shares a terrific anecdote about George Harrison and Phil Collins; please don't use my things for things those things aren't things to be used for; Mission: Impossible movies are very good; if you want to really appreciate something, it helps to make yourself be an amateur again; a recommendation for a very smart Mac location managing app; Merlin presents a lengthy and disordered jeremiad on HomeKit, HomeKit apps, and the new iOS playground; which is mostly all just to say: why are email apps still so terrible?

  • 516: The Steely Dan Dad

    516: The Steely Dan Dad

    02/02/2021 Duration: 01h03min

    No way am I even going to attempt a description this week. With that said: [this is a good one]

  • 515: Please Do Not Tapdance for Me

    515: Please Do Not Tapdance for Me

    26/01/2021 Duration: 58min

    DISCUSSED: There are things that one wants to see less or fewer often; is this particular button actually hooked up to anything?; there is literal must-see TV and you must see it literally immediately; everything is catching on fire; four basic steps for being a successful adult (who has to deal with other adults); thoughts on creativity and focal length; the process of unpandemicizing, or: do we still know how to put a Casual Corner in a mall?; Dan is loving his iPad; Merlin introduces a theory on The Velocity of Writing Instruments; and, finally, a quick celebrity cameo.

  • 514: Chicken Wipe

    514: Chicken Wipe

    19/01/2021 Duration: 01h02min

    DISCUSSED: Dan continues to explore the exciting possibilities of his latest hardware acquisition.

  • 513: A Preferred Testicle

    513: A Preferred Testicle

    13/01/2021 Duration: 01h16min

    DISCUSSED: life's relentlessness continues apace; Cash enjoyed Dan's modified Godfather trilogy; celebrating Lil' Inappropriate Books; a terrific recent use of "Layla"; some Inside Baseball talk about a recommended app segment; then, for the balance of the episode, your hosts start diving into Dan's exciting new acquisition and how best to put to good use.

  • 512: You Have a Mustard Fetish

    512: You Have a Mustard Fetish

    05/01/2021 Duration: 01h12min

    DISCUSSED: Merlin looks at a shelf and then, for some reason, discusses it; walls and Japanese beds and jokey-sized dishwashers all benefit from wheels; life is different when you live on a boat; it's important to find the right tool for the job; some people see forests, while others see trees; Merlin performs his very good Gordon Ramsey impression; Merlin also performs his very good David Lynch impression; in Follow-Up, we learn the extremely unsatisfying reason Personal Requests weren't working on a HomePod; there is discussion of the power of Siri alongside frustrations with its poor documentation; interesting bugs are discussed; your hosts explore the similarities between good documentation and good recipes; weird comic book feet are explored; tips on good media your hosts are enjoying; and, finally, there's some rapid-fire app and scripting recommendations.

  • 511: One Ringy-Dingy

    511: One Ringy-Dingy

    29/12/2020 Duration: 47min

    DISCUSSED: Making a problem go away is not the same thing as solving the problem.

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