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.

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1131 episodes

Episode 586: We Have Met the Audience, and He Is Us

DISCUSSED: A very moist man's lawyer learns how Dropbox works; Merlin introduces "The Bump"; Dan has a cool new calendar technology; and Merlin speed-rounds some odds and sods. * *

1h 6m
Aug 09
Episode 585: The Wahlberg Uncertainty Principle

Frankly, it was a bit of a fever dream, but your hosts discuss sportsball, collective singular nouns, Coleridge's trap street, LEGO, and a handful of Merlin's recent wins. Lego

1h 16m
Aug 02
Episode 584: Groomsman Gifts for the Funeral

Merlin has thoughts on survival, aging, and whether to bother trying to understand whatever NFTs are. Next up, the triumphant return of "Cool Thing I Learned This Week" brings updates on iOS dictation and a very Merlin video about organization. Until such time as the world ends, we will act as though it intends to spin on. —Nick Fury, The Avengers (2012) (

1h 36m
Jul 29
Episode 583: The Dentist Picks the Chair

Your hosts discuss dramaturgy, package managers, and monospaced fonts. Ladies?

1h 19m
Jul 15
Episode 582: Dadsplaining

DISCUSSED: Dan misses going to the movies; cool ways to save your bacon in Git; and Merlin is excited about a (new to him) app for personal tracking and quantization.

1h 19m
Jun 28
Episode 581: A Frog That No One Saw

DISCUSSED: Merlin runs the table this week with: unseasonable heat; the joy of realizing when someone obviously loved (and probably had to fight for) the thing that they made; and finally, an extended meditation on a phone charger and the decisions that seek to bridge past and future.

1h 38m
Jun 21
Episode 580: Not All Avenues

A classic odds n' sods episode. Merlin needs help with a journaling via voice solution; your hosts look at password enhancements in the Apple betas; praise for Apple's SF fonts and SF symbols; a trippy video about paper sizes (and the universe); and, oh, those whacky Mormon sects.

1h 22m
Jun 14
Episode 579: Memento Morey Amsterdam

Dan & Merlin are live from the show floor, sharing their thoughts on the WWDC 2022 keynote address.

1h 16m
Jun 07
Episode 578: Raft of Anchors

On memory, security, and sleeping injuries.

May 31
Episode 577: Transylvanian Meditation

Considering the value of finding something new to suck at. Runner-Up Titles Stop Trying to Meditate and Just Breathe I’m That Guy in My Own Head The Confidence of the New Idiot

1h 22m
May 24
Episode 576: People Who Don’t Want to Talk to a Lamp

It's a very special "Oops! All Automation Check-ins" episode. But, of course—as always—there's also a philosophical component.

1h 34m
May 17
Episode 575: You're Being Scared Wrong

DISCUSSED: Dan's new tenants flip him the bird, and Merlin has strong feelings about email. Runner-up titles: Glass Surfing I Don't Believe in a Lizard Binary A Game Stop and a Bathroom A Mother Son Relationship That Is Weird The Allergies of Childhood Medium-Sized Important Breakthrough The Cultural Installation of Fear

1h 8m
May 10
Episode 574: Tired and Fourteen

Your hosts are finally back in action with vital updates on #productivity and #creativity. Also, ginger ale and egg substitutes.

1h 14m
May 03
Episode 573: Shovels, Not Teaspoons

DISCUSSED: Updates on new Plex functionality; praise for Severance; plus some updates on Merlin's new setup—and pursuing the life that you'd like to have. Runner-Up Titles: Shoulders Come in Pairs Meaty and Sad Sucked Up Into My Body Cavity Really Hurts Your Roller Skating Muscle It's a Nice Box I Saved Some Nice Boxes

1h 15m
Apr 13
Episode 572: My Open Source Thomas Edison Film

DISCUSSED: Big news from Plex; Merlin has an expansive new computer project; and Dan continues to make his way at a new gig using his trusty calendar.

1h 21m
Apr 05
Episode 571: Open Faced Sandwich of Reality

DISCUSSED: Dan is doing new things that require a new approach to his calendar. Merlin proposes some appropriate Calendar Kyber Crystals.

1h 9m
Mar 29
Episode 570: Toilet Experiments

DISCUSSED: Dan is back from reporting on the show floor; recommendations for some Back to Work-adjacent podcast episodes; incidental thoughts and advice on presentations as performance; everybody wants a better email app; and Dan shares his thoughts on The Batman; Runner-Up Titles Two Bags of Dongles Just a Butt in a Chair Dirty Little Secret About Daddy A Face in the Brady Bunch Grid The Washington Fulfillment Society

1h 29m
Mar 21
Episode 569: An Incurious Outsider

DISCUSSED: Dan and Merlin talk about Apple's latest event and consider what the future looks like from Cupertino.

Mar 08
Episode 567: Sit on Me

DISCUSSED: the Russians are coming; Dan has thoughts on Marvel TV shows, and Merlin has thoughts on Hawkeye specifically; Merlin bravely and boldly recommends watching a film that's often considered the greatest ever made; in Follow-Up, Dan has an update on Taskpaper as well as wanting advice on how to fire Photoshop; Merlin seems weirdly excited about his new pencil; yet more praise is heaped on Rogue Amoeba; and, finally, in an unexpected twist, both your hosts realize they did the same thing last week. img Bando (After Pixelmator) img Fresh Baby (Before Pixelmator) img Fresh Baby (After Pixelmator) img Lemongrab (with Pixelmator ML Super Resolution) img Octagonal Brass

1h 17m
Feb 22
Episode 566: Vice-President of Doing It Wrong

DISCUSSED: your hosts can't complain (but, sometimes, they still do); a provisional craving for secular pre-cana; what are your canonical family holidays?; Dan has to sign something; a quick clarification on eels; Dan has some camera struggles, but Merlin offers advice that's costly and not actually all that useful; as Merlin re-approaches his World of Text, he is obviously getting even more gaybones for VS Code; and, finally, Merlin begins sketching his new project about energy, fuel, and courageous non-vacations. Runner-Up Titles A Defensive Fist My Uneasy Gait Your Backdoor Camera A Brace of Nips If I’m to Be Your Gamera

1h 35m
Feb 15
Episode 565: The Injustice of Youth

DISCUSSED: boiling ATX water and the long-term return of the Bang-Bang Machine; thought-provoking insight on youth, hustle, and work-life balance from Slate Political Gabfest; and Dan tries his hand at TaskPaper. Makebelieve Help, Old Butchers, and Figuring Out Who You Are (For Now)

1h 10m
Feb 08
Episode 564: The Elephants of Style

DISCUSSED: 🐇🐇; Dan shares follow-up on surviving his Covid week; a listener emails the show with a fascinating offer; your hosts discuss childhood mail; in Breaking News, the actor, M. Emmet Walsh is still alive; it's fun to say "Jackery"; praise for Maira Kalman; some initial thoughts on Apple's Universal Control; and finally, advice on the wisdom of running betas. Emmet Walsh Runner-Up Titles The Elephants of Style A Birthday Party for Monkeys Poor Professor Lumens

1h 30m
Feb 01
Episode 563: Bang-Bang Machine

An epic journey that begins with Dan's viral week and ends with a misunderstanding about the first Chicago album.

1h 41m
Jan 25
562: No More Attempts on My Father’s GitHub

DISCUSSED: Memories of Super Dave; KEYnote by LockPickingLawyer; Dan gets conspiracy theory-curious; the tapestry of entertainment by cults; Dan helps Merlin understand Git; and Merlin gets a new hub.

1h 27m
Jan 11
561: Flip the Telescope Around

Taskapalooza begins. Rock me, Joseph Alberto Santiago.

1h 39m
Jan 05
560: The Cat of Amontillado

Wrapping up the year with thoughts on unearned Covid optimism, defining "normal," Roomba training, Microsoft Visual Studio, plus a new (and decidedly more positive) reframing for New Year's resolutions.

1h 33m
Dec 28, 2021
559: Grade on the Curve of Time

Talking Spider-Man and phones for kids.

1h 28m
Dec 22, 2021
558: Pseudism

Merlin's Best of 2021™ kicks off with the return of "Cool Things I Learned This Week."

1h 31m
Dec 14, 2021
557: Food Court of Pain

A classic odds and sods episode covering: Rush lyrics; personal pronoun tips; Fitness+ meditation; more melees with various voice assistant ecosystems; a big shout-out to the iconic Listener Rachel A.; and Merlin's newfound love of Keyboard Maestro.

1h 28m
Dec 07, 2021