I have always enjoyed doing jigsaw puzzles.
Recently, with extra time available for relaxing activities, I have been doing some puzzles. After a couple of 500-piece puzzles, I took on a 1000-piece puzzle. Not an easy task.
But as I spent time working through the puzzle, it allowed me some quiet time to think. As I worked on it, I thought about some of the lessons and tactics of puzzles that are actually very applicable to tackling other daunting tasks in life.
And so I started to put together a list, and maybe you have some to add.
Here they are, the things I learned from a jigsaw puzzle, that I believe apply in every day work and home life.
Organize your work. When I have a job to tackle, I often dive in, when I should take the time to organize before starting. With puzzles, I organize the edge pieces separate from the inside pieces, find the corners, and build the outside frame first. I should do the same when tackling other tasks – organize before starting.
What seems impossible at first, isn’t. Just looking at all the puzzle pieces made me think “I can never do this!” Such is the same with daunting tasks at work or at home. But as with a puzzle, start small. Eat the elephant one bite at a time. The solution will appear, slowly but surely. Be persistent.
Focus on one area or one solution at a time. There are many different sections in a puzzle, and when I get looking for pieces for all the sections, I get nothing done. When I focus on one section, it is much easier to put together. Focus is a great asset in the workplace and even at home. Pick a small section, focus, and complete.
Change your perspective. I can stare at a section or a piece of the puzzle for a long time, and not be able to solve it. But if I change my perspective, such as turning the piece, or moving to a different section, it often gets solved. The same holds true in solving something complex at work, or in working with a team to find a solution. Change your perspective; listen to the point of view of others; seek to understand another point of view instead of arguing for your own.
Take a break. This holds true with many puzzles (such as crosswords) and with finding a solution to complex problems. Take time away from it. Go for a walk, work on something else, take a day away. Often when you come back, the solution presents itself. Or if you distract your mind with some other activity, instead of focusing on the problem, the solution presents itself.
Celebrate even the smallest accomplishments. I am down to the last parts of the puzzle. There are still a lot of pieces left. They all look the same. When I get one to fit, I give myself a little high five celebration. When it’s done, I will do a whoop whoop and probably take a picture. It’s important to celebrate achievements large and small. You and your team deserve it!
As you tackle problems large or small, remember the jigsaw lessons. I hope to.