What Jigsaw Puzzles Can Teach You About Business

by Guest Blogger on 2012-05-2212

Do you like jigsaw puzzles? What can you learn about working on a challenging puzzle…or a puzzling challenge?

When I was around 7 years old, I wanted to grow up and own a puzzle store. I imagined that I would put together jigsaw puzzles for a living, then glue, frame and sell them as artwork. I even had a gimmick thought up where I would discount your purchase if you put together part of the puzzle I was currently working on in the store. Sadly, as I grew older, I realized that a puzzle store wasn’t the greatest idea from a business standpoint but from a personal standpoint, they can still hold good value.

A good friend of mine and I had a conversation the other day where he turned me on to Ravensburger puzzles. Anyone familiar with the brand knows of how beautiful and difficult these puzzles can be. Some puzzles are 18,000 pieces, which in puzzle terms is flat out insane. Not having completed anything so large in my life, I decided to order a 5,000 and 3,000 piece puzzle and give it a try. While they have yet to arrive, I wanted to show you how I am going to tackle these monsters and how it helps me keep my mind sharp.

jigsaw puzzle
Image from GettyImages

Things I’ve Learned From Tackling A Complicated Jigsaw Puzzle

If we try to be perceptive enough, we can learn a few lessons from almost anything we do or encounter. Even the process of putting together a jigsaw puzzle can teach us a thing or two! So how do I tackle such a project?

1. Find the room.
The very first thing that I need to realize is that to finish a 5,000-piece puzzle, I have to have the room in my house to complete it. When completed, the puzzle measures 40” by 60” and to put it together correctly, I’m going to need an open and flat space of at least twice that to spread the pieces out. If I don’t have the resources to spread the pieces out, then my task of completing the puzzle becomes exponentially more difficult.

2. Develop a strategy!
Once I have done my best to turn the pieces on their right side, and spread the puzzle out, it’s time to develop a strategy. You might think that putting a puzzle together is easy, and I agree with you if it’s only 100 pieces. Like many things in life, developing a strategy before you follow through on something allows you to prepare for unexpected detours and changes to your plan. In this instance, the best course of action for me would be to complete the border of the puzzle first. Flat edged pieces are always easier to put together and this will allow me to work from the outside in. Once the border is complete, I go after the easy sections of the puzzle, usually the multi colored and text written areas. After those are completed and I’m still left with 4,000+ pieces, then the real fun starts.

3. Make a commitment to complete the project.
Like with any well laid out plan, it’s important to stick to it even when the chips are down. Determination is your best friend when trying to complete the difficult areas of a puzzle, as sometimes it’s nothing more than trial and error with 4,000 pieces. When I decided to buy large-sized puzzles, I knew what I was getting myself into and I can’t let that change just because I’m going to spend the next 10 years putting a big puzzle together.

4. Enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Finally, if I have the mental fortitude not to be bored out of my mind, I know that it’s only a matter of time before this puzzle is completed. There are few satisfactions in life better than putting that last puzzle piece in its place (I’m not crazy, I swear), especially when it’s one of this magnitude. I’ll glue it, frame it, and hang it up on the wall as a trophy to remind me that I was able to do something that many could not.

I know it might sound a little strange but in the end, the above scenario is relatively similar to the business world. To be successful, you need to plan ahead and gather the resources necessary to make the plan work. “Sticktoitiveness” — sometimes no matter the circumstances — is crucial to making sure that the initial strategy works, and hopefully you will find that more often than not, things work out in your favor. If you need inspiration, check out the video below. I’m about to do this very thing, only with 2,000 more pieces!

This guest post comes from Michael, a contributing editor of the Dough Roller, a personal finance and investing blog. He explains how his perfect hobby can be an analogy to the world of business.

Created December 20, 2009. Updated May 22, 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael December 20, 2009 at 4:39 pm

Thanks for the opportunity SVB!

Anthony December 20, 2009 at 8:21 pm

This is an interesting post with a very unique topic. Oddly enough, I experienced a “puzzle-building” activity for work, which highlighted all of the same ideas you’ve mentioned. Obtain resources, have a plan, etc.

From the puzzle’s side, I HATE putting together puzzles. I am always short puzzle pieces in the end. It’s somewhat disappointing to get to the end and have holes in the puzzle… oh well!

CarA December 20, 2009 at 8:31 pm

I actually put together quite a large puzzle myself. I had it professionally matted and framed when it was complete. It was a fun project mostly because I learned something new in the picture framing world. There’s always something to learn. -CarA.

Bing December 20, 2009 at 8:56 pm

Interesting comparison – I like it. Always good to step outside of your current mindset and refresh your perspective. Thanks!

Ken December 21, 2009 at 6:04 am

I do see the connection. Knowing and framing the pieces of a project is important.

Kosmo @ The Soap Boxers December 21, 2009 at 3:28 pm

A friend of mine does the 20,000 piece puzzles. I never realized that these existsed (well, other than as a freak show thing).

The double sided puzzles (same picture on both sides) look like they could be really difficult.

John DeFlumeri Jr December 21, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Ravensburger puzzles? 18000 pieces? The rest of my life would be puzzling!

John DeFlumeri Jr

Kosmo @ The Soap Boxers December 21, 2009 at 8:24 pm

@ John D: With or without the puzzles, I am certain that the rest of your life will be quite puzzling.

/Kosmo ducks quickly to avoid thrown objects

PennyStocks December 22, 2009 at 11:46 am

You wanted to open a puzzle store? That’s priceless. Interesting analogy — it works!

Jason Hommel December 23, 2009 at 11:19 am

I like number 4. How long does it take you to mess up the puzzle again after spending hours with it? That should be the same thing in business. Enjoy the fruits of your labor. Better yet, enjoy it with others. Share what you know so they can share your success.

Ralph January 12, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Have you tried virtual jigsaw puzzles (online and download)?

Ivan February 19, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Great thought. I think everyone needs to get a break in order to do things better. I think breaks can get you refreshed and can give you new ideas and a new point of view.

Leave a Comment