Minimum Effective Creative Dose

Big creative projects are daunting. They’re so daunting that we often fail to begin before we even try. But if you try merely to give the project the Minimum Effective Creative Dose, passive genius will take it from there.

Mountains of research show that creative problems get solved while we aren’t actively working on them. But to take advantage of this phenomenon of passive genius, we need to first prime our brains with basic details about that problem.


We need the Minimum Effective Creative Dose. The Minimum Effective Creative Dose is the minimum amount of work required to get your mind working on the problem in the background. It’s the minimum amount required for passive genius to take over.

Instead of trying to write that report, spend five minutes writing in a scratch file every random thing you can think of related to the project.

Instead of trying to sit down and come up with a logo idea, spend five minutes collecting the logos of your competitors.

Instead of sitting down to book flights and hotels for a trip you haven’t even planned yet, spend five minutes brainstorming what you’d like for your trip to look like.


Any of these tasks may feel hard at first, but they each feel much easier than setting out to find a solution right away.

When you’re done with this first task, give yourself a day, a couple of days, or even a week to attend to other matters. Now come back and do the exact same thing. You’ll find that it’s suddenly gotten easier.

Instead of struggling to think of details about the report, you’ll find yourself writing it.

Instead of trying to think of competitors’ logos to find, you’ll find it much easier to come up with ideas.

Instead of stressing over your travel itinerary, you’ll have a little more clarity over what your trip looks like.


What happened? Passive genius took over. While you were working on something else, generally going about your life, or even while you were sleeping, your mind was taking that Minimum Effective Creative Dose, and running with it.

Try it. Next time you find yourself facing down a beast of a creative problem, give your mind the Minimum Effective Creative Dose. It may only take five minutes, but by the time you return to the problem, it will be as if you had worked on it for hours.

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