Back to Work

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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.

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    • May 10, 2022 LATEST EPISODE
    • weekly NEW EPISODES
    • 1h 25m AVG DURATION
    • 1,034 EPISODES

    Listeners of Back to Work that love the show mention: merlin mann, back to work, merlin's, lizard brain, toasters, 5by5 network, 5 by 5, dan talk, macbreak, time and attention, restroom, gtd, mac power users, aaaa, it's an excellent, normal speed, 5by5 podcasts, existentialism, marlin, need to lie.



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    Latest episodes from Back to Work

    Episode 575: You're Being Scared Wrong

    Play Episode Listen Later May 10, 2022 68:10

    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

    Episode 574: Tired and Fourteen

    Play Episode Listen Later May 3, 2022 74:27

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

    Episode 573: Shovels, Not Teaspoons

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 13, 2022 75:48

    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

    Episode 572: My Open Source Thomas Edison Film

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 5, 2022 81:48

    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.

    Episode 571: Open Faced Sandwich of Reality

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 29, 2022 69:45

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

    Episode 570: Toilet Experiments

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 21, 2022 89:59

    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

    Episode 569: An Incurious Outsider

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 8, 2022 52:35

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

    Episode 568: Assistant to the Regional Danager

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 4, 2022 58:02

    Links:uBlacklist for Safari on the App Store — "Blocks sites you specify from appearing in search engine results"uBlacklist for Safari | Search Engine filter for SafariWhy Are There So Many Bad Bosses? - Freakonomics — "When these firms select people to be managers based on their current job performance, they are actively making themselves worse off. In other words: the Peter Principle is as real as Laurence Peter said it was. And, I'm editorializing here, it would also seem to be incredibly stupid."495. Why Are There So Many Bad Bosses? — Freakonomics Radio — OvercastRobert Sharl on Twitter: "⁦@hotdogsladies⁩ This is the business. OHTO Super Promecha Pencil PM-1500P | Cult Pens https://t.co/Inzfsujt55" / TwitterAmazonSmile : OHTO Super Promecha Drafting Pencil, 0.5mm (PM-1505P) : Mechanical Pencils : Office ProductsTweaks for TwitterAmazon.com : Staedtler Mars 780 Technical Mechanical Pencil, 2mm. 780BK : Steatdler Mechanical Pencil : Office ProductsAmazon.com : Staedtler Mars Carbon Lead, 12 x 2mm, HB (200-HB) : Staedtler Mars Lead Refill Hb : Office ProductsAmazon.com : Staedtler 502 BK A6 Mars Rotary Action Lead Pointer and Tub for 2mm Leads, 502BKA6,Blue : Pencil Sharpeners : Office ProductsPeter principle - Wikipedia — "…employees are promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another"Casting the X-Men in the Marvel Cinematic Universe - The First Class - YouTubeWells for Boys - SNL - YouTube — Introducing Wells for Boys, part of Fisher-Price's new Sensitive Boy line.Logo Programming Language — The Logo Programming Language, a dialect of Lisp, was designed as a tool for learning. Its features - interactivity, modularity, extensibility, flexibility of data types - follow from this goal. Links:uBlacklist for Safari on the App Store — "Blocks sites you specify from appearing in search engine results"uBlacklist for Safari | Search Engine filter for SafariWhy Are There So Many Bad Bosses? - Freakonomics — "When these firms select people to be managers based on their current job performance, they are actively making themselves worse off. In other words: the Peter Principle is as real as Laurence Peter said it was. And, I'm editorializing here, it would also seem to be incredibly stupid."495. Why Are There So Many Bad Bosses? — Freakonomics Radio — OvercastRobert Sharl on Twitter: "⁦@hotdogsladies⁩ This is the business. OHTO Super Promecha Pencil PM-1500P | Cult Pens https://t.co/Inzfsujt55" / TwitterAmazonSmile : OHTO Super Promecha Drafting Pencil, 0.5mm (PM-1505P) : Mechanical Pencils : Office ProductsTweaks for TwitterAmazon.com : Staedtler Mars 780 Technical Mechanical Pencil, 2mm. 780BK : Steatdler Mechanical Pencil : Office ProductsAmazon.com : Staedtler Mars Carbon Lead, 12 x 2mm, HB (200-HB) : Staedtler Mars Lead Refill Hb : Office ProductsAmazon.com : Staedtler 502 BK A6 Mars Rotary Action Lead Pointer and Tub for 2mm Leads, 502BKA6,Blue : Pencil Sharpeners : Office ProductsPeter principle - Wikipedia — "…employees are promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another"Casting the X-Men in the Marvel Cinematic Universe - The First Class - YouTubeWells for Boys - SNL - YouTube — Introducing Wells for Boys, part of Fisher-Price's new Sensitive Boy line.

    Episode 567: Sit on Me

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 22, 2022 77:41

    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. Bando (After Pixelmator) Fresh Baby (Before Pixelmator) Fresh Baby (After Pixelmator) Lemongrab (with Pixelmator ML Super Resolution) Octagonal Brass

    Episode 566: Vice-President of Doing It Wrong

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 15, 2022 95:44

    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

    Episode 565: The Injustice of Youth

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 8, 2022 70:51

    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)

    Episode 563: Bang-Bang Machine

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 25, 2022 101:58

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

    562: No More Attempts on My Father's GitHub

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 11, 2022 87:48

    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.

    561: Flip the Telescope Around

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 5, 2022 99:16

    560: The Cat of Amontillado

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 28, 2021 93:01

    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.

    559: Grade on the Curve of Time

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 22, 2021 88:48

    558: Pseudism

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 14, 2021 91:32

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

    557: Food Court of Pain

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 7, 2021 88:36

    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.

    556: The Only Way Out Is Claws

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 3, 2021 80:11

    The Boys are back, and they're not sure how big this thing gets.

    555: The Accretion of Non-Essential Things

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 16, 2021 95:01

    DISCUSSED: Dad stuff; flying too close to the smart home sun; appreciating the magic of Wes Anderson; the virtues of UPS battery backup; and, finally, Merlin starts tentatively sketching a unified field theory for rethinking how we think about and use space.

    554: Not the Water's Problem

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 9, 2021 50:31

    DISCUSSED: please stop changing the clocks; our kids are not us; the people of England have spoiled or corrupted several very good words; The Ellis Island Bit; surnames mean things; getting pelted with rocks and garbage; a Michael Penn playlist for 1 to 3.5 of you jackals; some Mad Max talk; it's always two things with Kevin Kelly; and, finally, some Marvel talk.

    553: Bioavailable Chambers of Flexibility

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 2, 2021 64:48

    This is what happens when Merlin stays up til 2 a.m. watching a movie and then has to record a podcast at 9 a.m. Because, your day is a continuum.

    552: Youth is the Anomaly

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 27, 2021 90:27

    Dan has all the waiters singing at him, and Merlin tries to buy the non-existent SIMS 4 for the Mac. Main topic is considering how best to set up a device that provides structure and motivation without all that beeping, beeping, beeping.

    551: Life Is for Using

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 19, 2021 85:48

    DISCUSSED: Your hosts talk about music, Apple Watch, and getting out of your kid's way. Also: life and MacBooks Pro.

    550: Ampersands and Raisins

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 12, 2021 99:53

    DISCUSSED: Dan and his son are up to Daniel Craig in their Bond journey, and this leads to an exploration of how our feelings about movies and their characters can change over time; considering the media you're scared to rewatch since it's probably not as good as you remember; your hosts dive further into browser extensions and why they're so critical to filtering your world. The Leftovers Neil Breen License to Clown

    549: A Typical Feisty Boy Child

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 6, 2021 81:36

    DISCUSSED: Exploring rural voices; the things that kids (and we) have had stolen away over the past couple years; what movie would get your butt back into a cinema seat?; an opinionated dive into Safari's new approach to tabs (and why it feels so concerning); and, finally, Merlin shares a bunch of Safari extensions that do new stuff—or do old stuff in a cool or interesting way.

    548: The Results of This Dog

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 27, 2021 74:26

    DISCUSSED: Merlin considers a black market medical purchase; the anatomical anomalies of the problematic sleeper are considered; some favorite YouTube finds are discussed; and, finally, your hosts begin scratching the surface of iOS 15's many clever and life-enhancing new features.

    546: Snow Day for Nerds

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 13, 2021 56:57

    Reporting live from the show floor and looking at options for time tracking.

    546: Snow Day for Nerds

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 13, 2021 56:57

    Reporting live from the show floor and looking at options for time tracking.

    545: The Cat's Fine

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 7, 2021 64:22

    DISCUSSED: The rules of "Rabbit Rabbit"; exploring the magic of Domino's probability-altering powers; forests versus trees and past versus future; Chevy Chase and a familial ninety-ten inversion; and, finally, praise for Lulu Miller's mind-blowing thoughts on the downsides of imposing "order" onto chaos.

    545: The Cat's Fine

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 7, 2021 64:22

    DISCUSSED: The rules of "Rabbit Rabbit"; exploring the magic of Domino's probability-altering powers; forests versus trees and past versus future; Chevy Chase and a familial ninety-ten inversion; and, finally, praise for Lulu Miller's mind-blowing thoughts on the downsides of imposing "order" onto chaos.

    543: Clownitentiary

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 24, 2021 71:29

    DISCUSSED: Nicholson movies; Synology yums and yucks; difficulties of shows about music; upcoming rabbit rabbit plans.

    543: Clownitentiary

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 24, 2021 71:29

    DISCUSSED: Nicholson movies; Synology yums and yucks; difficulties of shows about music; upcoming rabbit rabbit plans.

    542: MRSA Mann

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 17, 2021 78:10

    DISCUSSED: Catching up; Merlin's Travel Results; praise for Best in Show, SCTV, and public libraries; Dan has a new computer.

    542: MRSA Mann

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 17, 2021 78:10

    DISCUSSED: Catching up; Merlin's Travel Results; praise for Best in Show, SCTV, and public libraries; Dan has a new computer.

    541: Proprietary Escape Key

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 27, 2021 84:51

    A celebration of M1 devices, the benefits of learning how to learn, and considering when a new learning curve might be worth the climb.

    541: Proprietary Escape Key

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 27, 2021 84:51

    A celebration of M1 devices, the benefits of learning how to learn, and considering when a new learning curve might be worth the climb.

    540: Extreme Medical Sloth

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 20, 2021 69:50

    Find the tool you need—but, keep asking yourself, "Soooooo…now what?"

    540: Extreme Medical Sloth

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 20, 2021 69:50

    Find the tool you need—but, keep asking yourself, "Soooooo…now what?"

    539: Where the Ghosts Live

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 13, 2021 79:11

    Things get pretty silly, yet somehow land on some extremely Back to Work points about time management, compression, values, and moving your own goalposts. For some reason, McDonald's becomes an important controlling metaphor.

    539: Where the Ghosts Live

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 13, 2021 79:11

    Things get pretty silly, yet somehow land on some extremely Back to Work points about time management, compression, values, and moving your own goalposts. For some reason, McDonald's becomes an important controlling metaphor.

    538: Tossed Salad of Remembrance

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 6, 2021 91:25

    DISCUSSED: Dan begins a journey into new worlds of voice control and home automation.

    538: Tossed Salad of Remembrance

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 6, 2021 91:25

    DISCUSSED: Dan begins a journey into new worlds of voice control and home automation.

    537: Insane Corner of My Own Design

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 29, 2021 70:02

    DISCUSSED: Some ups and downs of living the smart speaker lifestyle. Also: the dramatis personae of The Land of Make Believe; feeding the demon dogs; and learning to be careful with the words we put in front of other words.

    537: Insane Corner of My Own Design

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 29, 2021 70:02

    DISCUSSED: Some ups and downs of living the smart speaker lifestyle. Also: the dramatis personae of The Land of Make Believe; feeding the demon dogs; and learning to be careful with the words we put in front of other words.

    536: Fonzie Slap

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 22, 2021 80:48

    DISCUSSED: Merlin and his wife realize the moment they crossed a line; in Follow-Up, your hosts celebrate the late great Fred Willard; in further Follow-Up, the state of the union in smart voice devices is considered; and, finally, the long arc of calendar talk starts to wind down with some hard talk on disambiguation and actually really getting real.

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