643 episodes

Back to Work is an award winning talk show with Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin discussing productivity, communication, work, barriers, constraints, tools, and more.

Back to Work 5by5

    • Technology
    • 4.7 • 2K Ratings

Back to Work is an award winning talk show with Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin discussing productivity, communication, work, barriers, constraints, tools, and more.

    Episode 644: A Tony Bennett Hair Hat

    Episode 644: A Tony Bennett Hair Hat

    An important discussion about aging as examined and explained through the lens of James Howlett.
    David Ferrie - WikipediaMerlin's Wisdom Project — "It's only advice for you because it had to be advice for me."

    Max Eisenhardt (Earth-616) | Marvel Database | FandomMagneto | X-Men Wiki | Fandom

    • 1 hr
    Episode 643: The Price of Lies

    Episode 643: The Price of Lies

    Merlin thinks LLMs have raised the bar for voice assistants in general and Siri in particular. Dan and his kid watch the excellent HBO series, Chernobyl.

    Merlin’s weird, truncated contexts in Things.
    Seven Little Pieces of My Heart — Merlin really likes music, and he has a delightfully economical way to share it with you.
    Dr.Feelgood 【She Does It Right】 - YouTubeHisashi Ouchi, The Radioactive Man Kept Alive For 83 DaysThe Chernobyl Podcast | HBO - YouTubeBleachers - Tiny Moves (Official) - YouTubeUnder the Radar #289: Vision Pro Numbers - Relay FMextratone/siri: complete list of siri voice commands — siri voice commands list

    • 1 hr 29 min
    Episode 642: A Better Roll of Toilet Paper

    Episode 642: A Better Roll of Toilet Paper

    Your hosts discuss facial hair, notebooks, the metric system, flexing about local weather, and becoming the bathroom supplies you want to see in the world.

    Amazon.com : kleid 8902 Notebook, 0.08 inch (2 mm) Grid Notebook, A5, 0.08 inch (2 mm) Grid, Olive : Office ProductsKleid StationeryKinokuniya USAAmazon.com: Maruman MNEMOSYNE Notebook 8.27 x 5.83 Inches (A5), 5mm dot grid, 80 Sheets (N105), white : Everything Else — Merlin's notebook.Amazon.com: Kinsa Smart,Fever, Digital Medical Baby, Kid and Adult Termometro - Accurate, Fast, FDA Cleared Thermometer for Oral, Armpit or Rectal Temperature Reading - QuickCare : Health & Household — Merlin's thermometer.Le Grand K – Saint-Cloud, France - Atlas Obscura — The former global standard for the exact mass of one kilogram sits under lock and key outside Paris. Metric Paper - YouTubeSMISKI - 【OFFICIAL SITE】SMISKIShopkins Brand Page - Moose ToysMerlin's Wisdom Project — "In thinking about optimizing how you work, try to distinguish between the parts of your job that are necessarily difficult versus the parts that are harder than they actually need to be. The former is the reason that you get the big bucks, and the latter is the reason why you may often feel like the bucks should be bigger."sam elliott young - Google SearchThe Cornell Note Taking System – Learning Strategies CenterEx-Men: Wolverine - YouTube

    • 1 hr 42 min
    Episode 641: Germans in the Wild

    Episode 641: Germans in the Wild

    Travel is not always about traveling, but it is definitely always about your life.

    Wacky Races (1968 TV series) - WikipediaCincinnati Superhero Connection | Cincinnati ExperienceMuttley - WikipediaSimple Scan | Agile TortoiseAmazon.com: Anker MagSafe Charger Compatible, Anker MagGo 3in1 Charging Station, Qi2 Certified 15W Wireless Charger Stand, Apple Watch Charger, for iPhone 15/14, AirPods, Apple Watch S9 40W USBC Charger Included : Cell Phones & AccessoriesAmazon.com: 150W USB C Charger, Anker 747 Charger ( GaNPrime), 4-Port Fast Compact Foldable Gan Charger for MacBook Pro/Air, iPhone 14/Pro, iPad Pro, Dell XPS 13, Galaxy S22/S21, Note 20/10+, Pixel and More : Cell Phones & AccessoriesAmazon.com: Anker Magnetic Battery, 10,000mAh Foldable Wireless Portable Charger with Stand, 20W USB-C Power Delivery for iPhone 15/15 Plus/15 Pro/15 Pro Max, iPhone 14/14 Pro / 14 Pro Max/13/12 Series : Cell Phones & AccessoriesAmazon.com: Anker 727 Charging Station (GaNPrime 100W), Compact Power Strip for Travel, Work, 5 ft Detachable Extension Cord with 2 Outlets and 4 USB Ports, for iPhone 14, Samsung, iPad, MacBook (Not a Battery) : Cell Phones & AccessoriesAmazon.com: Anker GaNPrime Power Bank, 2-in-1 Hybrid Charger, 10,000mAh 30W USB-C Portable Charger with 65W Wall Charger, Works for iPhone 15/15 Plus/15 Pro/15 Pro Max/14/13, Samsung, Pixel, MacBook, Dell : Cell Phones & AccessoriesAmazon.com: Baseus USB C Cable, Mini 100W Retractable USB C to USB C PD 5A Fast Charging Cable, 4-Stage Length Preset USB Type C Charger Cable for iPhone 15/Pro/Plus/Pro Max, MacBook, iPad Pro, Samsung S23/S22+ : ElectronicsBravo Sling Max Limited Edition Black (V2)Amazon.com : AeroGarden Harvest 2.0, Indoor Garden Hydroponic System with LED Grow Light, Holds up to 6 AeroGarden Pods, Cream : Patio, Lawn & GardenHop Along - "Waitress" (Recorded Live for World Cafe) - YouTube

    • 1 hr 17 min
    Episode 640: Bob's Big Mess

    Episode 640: Bob's Big Mess

    A classic odds n' sods episode. Plus, Merlin has thoughts about memory and ecosystems, and Dan is considering jetting through an eclipse.

    • 1 hr 19 min
    Episode 639: The Commodore's Club

    Episode 639: The Commodore's Club

    Dan talks about what he's learned from traveling a bunch, and Merlin thinks a lot of weirdness comes from our twin fears of boredom and inconvenience.
    Tailscale · Best VPN Service for Secure Networks — Tailscale makes creating software-defined networks easy: securely connecting users, services, and devices.Amazon.com: MagSafe Charger Compatible, Anker MagGo 3-in-1 Charging Station, Qi2 Certified 15W Wireless Charger Stand, Apple Watch Charger, for iPhone 15/14, AirPods, Apple Watch S9 (40W USB-C Charger Included) : Cell Phones & AccessoriesThule Accent | Thule | United StatesHow to Pack a Bag Using the Ranger Roll | The Art of ManlinessAmazon.com: Veken 8 Set Packing Cubes for Suitcases, Travel Essentials for Carry on, Luggage Organizer Bags Set for Travel Accessories in 4 Sizes (Extra Large, Large, Medium, Small), Black : Clothing, Shoes & JewelryTrying the Same Breakfast at Cracker Barrel and Bob Evans, WinnerDelta Air Lines adds 2024 solar eclipse flight from Austin to Detroit

    • 1 hr 15 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
2K Ratings

2K Ratings

Daniel Rutherford ,

Updated for 2023!

After taking a break and checking in again, this show has gotten a lot more fun throughout the last year - I really like the energy of Merlin rolling with Dan lately and it feels a little bit like the early days just without the productivity focus.

I’ve gotten some great recommendations from recent episodes and am back to being a fairly regular listener. If you took a break and happen to see this review, I urge you to check it out again - it’s like catching up with old friends after a while.

I don’t know what specifically happened behind the scenes but I feel like both hosts are doing better behind the scenes and it’s really coming through over the mic. Hope you will continue this show for a long while despite the rocky podcast ad industry.

Sherif S. ,


Dan gets to finish maybe 1 in 4 of his sentences.

(I’ve been listening for many many years, I’m not a newcomer who doesn’t know what this podcast is about).

gx4bbx3 ,

It’s been fun, but the AI talk is offputting

Back to Work has always been amusing at the very least and extraordinarily helpful when they do actually talk about productivity and work. And right now it’s a crucial time as the specter of “AI” looms overhead, with people on both sides of the “issue” claiming this and that. I think it’s fine that Merlin (and to a lesser extent Dan) are very interested in these chatbots as they are here to stay and people do need to begin wrestling with them, for better or worse, as it encroaches (forcefully by the hands of mostly corporations and bad actors) into all aspects of our lives. We should be learning how to use this stuff to make our lives and our work easier if we can, and Merlin and Dan tinkering with this stuff can be helpful. But I think Merlin is still too dismissive and lacking empathy for the people who are genuinely losing their jobs already because executives are already rushing ahead to using the chatbots to generate content, even in spite of the clear indications that this stuff isn’t ready for prime time and there are no guardrails or limitations for a lot of this stuff legally. It feels a bit like the biggest proponents are in their own world and fail to acknowledge the damage that this stuff is doing, and merely say that people need to adapt, as if that’s reasonable in all circumstances or easily doable. So hearing about AI chatbots with this almost naive enthusiasm and air of dismissal for its opponents has become tiring as I read about a company laying off dozens and then 2 months later looking for an AI editor to handle 200-250 articles a week. Maybe I’ll be back to see if the approach to this stuff changes, but for now I need to hit pause on any new episodes.

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